“I have to make the bed now”, said Anike, in a calm voice.
This was while three months’ old Ishola was still on it even though he was awake and just cooing away in that familiar baby tune. This was 6:05am.
“You are so determined to be early today lovely; this is really good for you. So why not put your brother on his rocker and go ahead?” said mom as she beamed a smile and those encouraging words on Anike.
The previous days had been like a war zone. Anike seemed to be determined to be in slow motion mode for God knows why and consistently making it late to school- perhaps to escape her morning chores. However, mum refused to be boxed into a corner. Irrespective of the time, she wasn’t bending on the early morning chores. Yesterday, as Anike seemed all set without laying the bed, using her calm voice, mum reminded her that she couldn’t be set until her bed was set. Anike knew she had no choice but to do the needful. This gained her some two more minutes still in the house from her already delayed time, which was going to add like seven more minutes to her commute time.
As a recovering yeller, I can assure you that the calm voice is an extremely useful parenting tool.
Children can self-correct. One of the tricks is to stay calm when you want to yell. This may sound simple and we all know it’s not. So, what can you do when you have made the decision to maintain and use your calm voice irrespective of what the situation throws?
First, you need visual cues. Just as a vision board propels you to achieve your goals, these visual cues will be your reminder to maintain and use your calm voice. So stick them up everywhere that matters- on your mirror, on your fridge, on your dashboard, as your computer and phone screensaver, on the bathroom door and just about everywhere… it could be as simple as a message to self: I am choosing calm today. Constantly being at face with this is a powerful tool to gradually live it. So, the next time you want to raise your voice, stop in your tracks- if you have to do some deep breathing, count 1-10, leave the room for a moment- that’s okay- you would be setting a great example for your children on how to calm your body and your emotion when you are upset.
Our kids tend to mirror us. When they see you keep calm in the heat of the moment, they will be much more likely to stay calm as well.
Second, look for ways to make your physical environment more soothing- when you play songs, spiritual messages etc in the background, it can really help to bring down the stress level of everyone in the family. That shift in energy will make you more aware of using your calm voice.
Third, it can also help to reduce to volume and pace of your speaking. I speak pretty fast and I find out that when I speak more slowly and softly, I’m more likely to use my calm voice and my kids will usually follow suit.
Fourth, it also helps to speak with a smile. It’s hard to have an edge in your voice when you are speaking with a smile- even when you are telling your kids to do something or not to do something- that smile can go a long way in helping you to speak with a calm voice and diffusing a power struggle. Little wonder one wise man said: smile, its charity and that wise man is the prophet of Islam- Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Next, whenever possible, walk into the room your child is before speaking to him or her. When we shout from room to room as it’s tempting to do, we are really raising the tension and volume in the household and the tendency is that when they do not hear us the first time, we yell our request. This is a good recipe for stress for all of us!
Once you see the impact of your calm voice on your children, I bet you will be motivated to use it all the time.