Let’s face it. Parenting isn’t easy. Parenting without raising your voice seems even LESS easy. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to leave you hanging. Here are 8 simple and easy ways to get your child’s attention without raising your voice in the slightest.
Raising Your Voice: Why It Happens
You may not have ever given much thought to why you are raising your voice. It’s such an automatic reaction that we don’t really think much about it. But did you know that there are two main reasons you’re raising your voice?
We may not be fully aware that our intentions are to show authority or power but our brains are wired to believe that making oneself larger or feared is a useful tactic when insecurity or anxiety creeps in. These situations, where we feel we are losing control causes us to fear the actual loss of control and therefore elicits the reaction of our primal instincts, yelling.
To Be Heard
The other most common reason for raising your voice is simply, to be heard. When you shout, it’s a reaction of your brain trying to desperately express the feeling of not being understood or acknowledged. Sound familiar? Think of a time when you were trying to explain a situation to someone and they just weren’t getting it. Did you let out a big, “argh!”? This is your body communicating your frustrations in not being understood.
An important thing to remember is that you are not alone. You are not a bad parent. There is no manual for raising a child. We strive to do our best and we will make mistakes along the way. Putting the right tools in your pocket for parenting without raising your voice will help tremendously in reducing stress for both you and your children. It won’t make you a perfect parent but a parent willing to learn and try is definitely close.
Give a Valid Explanation
“Because I said so,” or ” I’m the parent, you’re the child,” aren’t explanations that children understand. When someone first told you that 2+2=4 and you asked why, you wouldn’t have accepted the answer of, “just because it is.” Give them a valid explanation of why they can or can’t do that specific thing that is causing the frustration.
Is your child standing on the coffee table? Explain to them why you don’t want them to do that. “Please step down from the coffee table. I don’t want you to get hurt or break something.”
Other options you can use or even build on are why you have that rule, how it makes you feel or instructions on how to do the action appropriately.
“We don’t stand on the coffee table so we don’t hurt ourselves or break our things.”
“It makes me feel scared you’ll hurt yourself when you stand on the coffee table.”
“Coffee tables aren’t meant to stand on, dear. Why don’t you try standing on the soft carpet? That’s a spot meant for standing.”
If you take the opportunity to explain instead of scold it’s more likely to de-escalate the situation before you feel like raising your voice.
Read More: Getting Through Days When Parenting is Hard
Give Them Options
Sometimes things are just easier if we are given a different option. Maybe they hadn’t thought of that option or perhaps hadn’t realized they even had an additional option. Letting them chose between your approved options ensure the result is acceptable and allows your child to feel like they had a part in the decision making. If they’re a part of the process instead of fighting against it they’re much less likely to resist.
Let’s use the jumping on the coffee table example once more. Instead of exclaiming, “Get down from there!” You can try, “Hey buddy! I can see you like to jump! Do you want to jump on the fuzzy carpet or would you like to jump on the trampoline?”
Again, including them in the process not only gives them the feeling that you’re a team but it helps them learn how to make decisions for themselves in the future.
Admit It When YOU Make Mistakes
We all know that one person who will never apologize or admit when they’re at fault. Don’t be that person! Use your mistakes as an opportunity to show your children that it’s normal to fudge things every once in a while. Showing them that mistakes do have consequences, good and bad, but that even adults make them is extremely reassuring to your children. You’d be surprised how this knowledge can help them with strong emotions and tantrums when they make mistakes themselves.
Read More: Ways that Fear Impacts Your Parenting Skills
Simple, right? Ha! Calming your child when they’re visibly upset and you’re a ticking time bomb of frustration can prove to be pretty difficult. Start with something easy like counting, breathing, or singing a song. Let your child know you see they’re upset, that you want to help but you both need to calm down first. Ask them to count with you to 3 or take 3 deep breaths. If they have a favorite song, ask them to sing it with you. If they’re reluctant tell them that’s okay! You’re going to sing it but they can join in if they feel ready.
Redirecting your focus as well as theirs onto something easy and controllable helps to defuse the tension and anger. Once diffused, you’ll both be able to tackle the situation with a more level mindset.
Set Rules and Stick to Them
Don’t be the parent that has a pocket full of empty threats. This tactic will get you nowhere. Kids may be little but they catch on quickly and if you don’t stick to the rules and consequences you set, they will pick up on it. Explain the rules and consequences clearly and make sure you follow through. Making sure the consequences are realistic is also a huge factor. Telling your child they’ll be grounded, “for the rest of their life,” is not the most believeable result and they’ll see right through that.
Rule: We don’t hurt others. Consequence: Time Out
If they break the rule, explain it to them. “We have a rule that we don’t hurt others. You hit your brother and the consequence is a time out for 5 minutes.” This is where you need to stand firm. If they get up, gently pick them up and place them back in their time out spot. Stick to it and they’ll quickly learn that you’re not bluffing. When you have a solid plan that you both understand regarding behavior, it’s much easier to parent without raising your voice to them.
If a situation is especially tense and you feel like raising your voice is the only option, walk away. Give yourself some breathing room. Whether you just step out of the door frame or into another room for a moment (with the child in a safe place) it’s always better to remove yourself from a situation to compose yourself and organize your thoughts before allowing the emotions to erupt.
Our emotions are helpful tools. We don’t want to repress or deny them but we do want to give them the appropriate space to express themselves outwardly. If that expression is going to be too explosive, give yourself that space and come back in a moment when you have released the emotions you have difficultly controlling.
Parenting is one tough job. None of us are perfect at it. What matters is that we’re continually trying and constantly learning to better ourselves and our methods. Learning how to parent your children without raising your voice may seem like a small thing, or it may even seem like an impossible thing but all things take practice. Implement any or all of these skills and not only will you feel frustrated less often but you’ll find that raising your voice wasn’t the only way to get your point across.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 12 Tips for Positive, Peaceful Parenting.
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