Do you have a child who easily tunes you out? Do you feel like all you do is repeat yourself? Do your words get the behavior and attitude that you want from your child?
Sometimes, it’s better if we keep our mouths shut. It’s so cliche, but actions do speak louder than words. There are several scenarios where staying quiet has more power:
- Your child suddenly whacks his baby sister in the head. He knows better; you don’t need to remind him.
- The child throws a toy across the room in a fit of rage. Quickly carrying him by the hand to his room for a timeout will speak volumes.
- You tell him to wash his hands for dinner, and he turns around and screams “no!” in your face. There should be no question in anybody’s mind whether this is acceptable.
Imagine your toddler throws a fit in public. You might be tempted to give him a piece of your mind. Or you might want to ask the people nearby whose kid this is. It can be tempting to publicly admonish our kids because we want other people to know that we don’t let tantrums go unaddressed. But really, does the grocery store checker care how you parent your child? Probably not. And it’s bad enough that the people around you have to hear your screaming child. Do they really need to listen to your threats and demands?
Besides, our discipline is often much more effective when we don’t say a word. When he’s throwing a fit in public, simply take him by the hand, hold it firmly, and walk quickly out of the store. He’ll get the hint. Take him home, put him on his bed for a timeout, and then when he’s calm you can start talking. The other benefit of keeping quiet is that it keeps you from flying off the handle and threatening consequences that you eventually regret.
It’s also important to keep quiet when you’re about to hand over a logical consequence. If the child knows his behavior is wrong, don’t warn him. Don’t give him the option of choosing the consequence over obeying. React calmly and swiftly and he’ll be all the more respectful of your authority. And if your child is in the middle of a tantrum, it’s especially important to keep quiet about consequences. Threatening consequences to a kicking, screaming child will not get him to settle down. It will only make him more mad.
So the next time your child frustrates, angers or embarrasses you, think twice before saying a word. If your child thinks you’re all talk and no action, the reversal of your ways will surprise him (in a good way).