Did you dream about what a house with children would be like? Perhaps it included the pitter-patter of feet on the floor and joyful, playful voices. The reality for many, though, is those pitter-patters are more like stomping elephants and the joyful voices are really screaming and hollering as everyone tries to be heard. If you're ready for a quieter, calmer home, start now with your voices. It is possible to raise a child using your own quiet voice while teaching her to have a quiet voice herself.
Model the behavior that you desire in your child, who learns by watching you. Therefore, speak in a quiet voice, even when you're upset or angry. If necessary, you might need to learn strategies, such as breathing techniques, to deal with your anger. When your child is screaming or too loud, don't respond with a loud voice to compete with hers. Wait until she calms down or takes a break from the noise to speak with her. When your child is a baby, she might scream and love her own voice and the sounds she is able to make. This is normal, but when you play with her, continue to use the quiet voice.
Walk to the other room when you want your child rather than yelling across the house. Expect this same behavior from your child. Say something like, "We are no longer going to scream at the top of our lungs when we want each other. Instead, we're going to go get the person we want. This also means no more yelling 'dinner' when it's dinner time."
Say the person's name when you begin to speak to him. Upon hearing his name, his ears will perk up and he's more likely to hear and process what you say, and the person speaking is less likely to raise her voice to gain attention. If, for example, your child is playing with his toys, you should say, "John, it's time to put your toys away."
Teach your child the difference between indoor and outdoor voices, a skill that most children should be able to master at age 3. Outdoors, your child can make louder noises. Indoors, he shouldn't. Practice different kinds of voices with your child. Go outside and let loose. Inside, whisper and speak in soft tones and ask whether your child can hear you without straining. When you're speaking in your normal, but still soft voice, the answer should be yes. Explain there, that there is no reason to speak any louder when indoors.
Give your child your full attention while she is talking. If you are only half listening, she could feel the need to raise her voice. Teach your child to do the same. Good listening also includes looking at the person who is speaking to you and responding appropriately.
- When you feel the urge to yell, remember that your child is less likely to process or think logically through what you are saying if you are yelling at her. Instead, she will likely have a flight or fight response, the opposite of what you want.
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