Don’t do that! You know you’re not supposed to….
What do I have to do to get you to listen to me?
Stop hitting your sister. Cut it out.
How many times do I have to tell you?!
Quiet down, you’re going to be the death of me!
(read all with tone of frustration and blame)
Be the child on the receiving end of these remarks. What happens to you when hear the accusations? Do you tense up, look away, run off, shut down? Where does your focus go? Depending on your temperament and how you have learned to avoid trouble, you choose a defense mechanism. So when that familiar tone emanates from your parent, you immediately hide behind your wall—your defense of choice. You do not put your focus on the effects of your behavior (a hurt sister, a tired mother), you put your focus on yourself and strategize how to keep from getting in trouble.
We teach our children early to defend themselves—unbeknownst to us—and then get furious when they do, claiming they never take responsibility for themselves.