Try this on a young motormouth

Dear Kid Whisperer, I have a 4-year-old who is really well behaved. I don’t have much to complain about, so I actually feel like a whiner even asking you this. His “motor” goes a mile a minute. He’s constantly, and I mean constantly, talking to me and asking me to play with him. I mean, I do play and talk with him a lot, but I do a lot of work from home and I just can’t be at his beck and call at all times. Is it unreasonable to try to get work done around him? How do I do it without losing my cool, because that’s where this is headed. – Don, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

A. Wow, Don, did you ever come to the right place. I’m right there with you. My three-year old is the same way. Let me give you a strategy that allows me to deal with this in a calm, cool way so I don’t end up losing my temper.

First of all, yes, you have a right to get work done, clean your home and take good care of yourself. If you don’t take good care of yourself, you can’t take care of your kid. Don’t listen to our culture that wants you to treat your child as the littlest emperor, providing not only everything that he needs but also everything that he wants.

I can show you how to set and enforce reasonable playtime limits with your kid. Here’s how:

Kid: DAD!!! Who’s your favorite “Star Wars” character!?!? Why is an owl called an owl? Are Mariah Carey and Drew Carey related? How old is Grimace? Do you want to play spin around? I want …

Kid Whisperer: I will play and talk with you as soon as I am done with the dishes.

Kid: Is a pickle a vegetable or a mammal? Who invented snot? Can we play Motorcycle Monkeys?

Kid Whisperer: (on the exhale) When will I play and talk with you?

Kid: But … who is going to be in the monkey cockpit? Can we play now?

Kid Whisperer: When will I play and talk with you?

You can repeat this sentence over and over. Drift off into your happy place as you mindlessly repeat this over and over until your kid goes away or is quiet. If he really persists and you just can’t take it anymore, you can up the ante.

Kid Whisperer: I allow quiet little boys to stay in the kitchen.

Kid: But …

Kid Whisperer: Oh, no. Who do I allow to stay in the kitchen?

Kid Whisperer picks up Kid and carries him to a place where his voice won’t drive Kid Whisperer nuts. If Kid comes back and talks to Kid Whisperer while Kid Whisperer in finishing the dishes, we continue the broken record.

Kid: I demand playtime in the form of “Star Wars” action figure hand-to-hand combat!

Kid Whisperer: Oh, no. Who do I allow to stay in the kitchen?

Kid Whisperer again picks up Kid and carries him to a place where his voice won’t drive Kid Whisperer nuts.

That is it. As long as you don’t show frustration or anger and don’t deviate from the script, your kid will start entertaining himself. Of course, once you are done with the dishes, go have a great time playing Motorcycle Monkeys.

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Scott Ervin is an independent facilitator of parenting with Love and Logic and The Nine Essential Skills for the Love and Logic Classroom. He is a parent, third-grade teacher and behavioral consultant. For more, visit