We are an Army family, through and through. I grew up an Army Brat and my husband went to a military college. So to say Army phrases and jargon have seeped into our vernacular is an understatement.
Until recently, I never realized how many Army terms cross over into parenting and just how effective they can be. Rather than having a huge yelling session (I mean discussion), using these six Army phrases helps us reshape our days so that they are a little less loud and a lot more productive.
1. Move with a purpose
Any basic trainee or ROTC cadet can remember the days of senior noncommissioned officers yelling at them to “Move with a purpose!” It basically means to walk quickly, efficiently and without running, as the situation may be too dangerous for running. I am constantly saying this to my children. Walking in parking lots with three kids is challenging -- one wants to run, one is moving at a snail’s pace and the other is crying about who knows what. Getting them to all walk at the same pace to our destination is key to my sanity and I am sure it is the key to yours as well.
2. Lock it up
This is usually reserved for unruly privates but I have told my children to “Lock it up” on more than one occasion. Crying for no reason? Yelling instead of using an inside voice? No thank you. I tell them to lock it up and move on. In a military setting, it usually means to stand at attention and be quiet but since kids will be kids, I reserve this phrase for telling them to check the volume level on their voice and teach them to self-regulate when it’s appropriate to yell and when it is time to be quiet. I often use this on the playground if one of my kids falls down and cries over a non-injury: Lock it up and keep playing. Unless a limb needs to be amputated, I am sure you will be fine so go back to playing with your friends.
3. I’m watching you
Not so much an Army phrase, more like making use of the classic hand and arm signal. Pointing two fingers at my eyes and then turning the fingers toward my kids, sometimes even saying, “I’m watching you,” is a great reminder to your kids that they need to rethink their current activity. Maybe they are making a mess at a time where a mess would not be appreciated or maybe they are just doing something unsafe.
Nothing makes a child stop what they are doing faster than being reminded that they are being watched. And since it is mostly non-verbal, you can shoot your kid one of these in a crowded place so that they can make a better choice.
4. Move out
This phrase works in more than one way. When we are getting ready to head out for the day’s activity and everyone has done their potty break and shoes are on, it is time to “Move out!” Get in the car and let’s go see what adventures are waiting for us. But “Move out” is not all good. Sometimes they hear it when they are being told to stop playing and do their chores. “Did you clean your room? No? Move out!” Do they always go the first time around? Of course not, they are kids but they will eventually go and the toys will get cleaned.
My husband is Airborne, and as such has learned an interesting way of counting down. When we are getting ready to leave for the day or even just a head’s up for when dinner’s almost ready, it is not uncommon to hear someone call out “Ten minutes!” and then a “Standby.” This is a great way to help kids with transitioning from one activity to the next because it gives them a head’s up that soon, they will have to move onto something else.
6. Say again
Never say “repeat” on the radio. Never say it at home either. When my kids or my husband says something that I do not hear or understand, it is not uncommon for us to say “Say again?” Even better, if someone says they are going to do something they know is naughty, a quick “Say again?” usually is enough to derail whatever scheme was turning in their heads.
Of course, the classic Army phrases are often echoed in the house as well: Roger, Hooah, Copy, but these additional phrases are a great way to hopefully encourage your children to stop a negative behavior and turn it into a positive one without tears or yelling on either party’s part. And cutting down on unnecessary tears is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
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