Parenting and Legs!
The other day I read a parent’s plea for silence. Her child would not stop talking. She said her child talked from the moment he woke up until the moment he fell asleep. She said she needed a moment of quiet, or else!
The tip I suggested was age appropriate, and really does give a parent a bit of silence. I’ll share the tip in a minute. After I posted my answer I realized that many parents aren’t aware of how long the legs are in the tips I suggest. That’s what this post is all about.
We all know that each time a child begins to climb on your last nerve, whether it’s whining, talking all-the-time, or misbehaving, (s)he is trying to tell you something. Kids can’t say, “Hey I’m lacking a skill, can you help a kid out?” So (s)he unconsciously sends a message wrapped in some sort of behavior. That behavior arrives on your doorstep tied with a special bow. A bow that produces frustration or irritation on your end so you’ll pay attention to the need!
Most of the time, parents ignore the hidden message and react to their own emotions of irritation and frustration. They choose instead to stop the child’s behavior right now!
What I’m suggesting is we meet a child where they are. At their developmental and emotional level. That we provide a skill that not only solves the immediate issue, but one that also provides legs. You wondered when I would get to the legs part, didn’t you?
Let me explain by sharing the tip I used. (This example is played out with a 4 yr. old even though talking all the time is developmentally on target. This can be modified to use with older kids too.) Suppose you too have a child who talks all-the-time. Whatever comes into her mind, comes out of her mouth, as my mother used to say. (S)he talks all-the-time. You need a break. Some blessed quiet, or you’ll loose your mind!
Why not implement a no words walk? Here’s what you do.
Tell your child you’re going on a short walk. Ask her to be silent for 1 block, just 1 block.
Tell her there’ll be no talking from the end of the driveway to the moment she touches the street sign or stop sign at the end of the block.
Tell her to use her eyes instead of her mouth.
Tell her that everything she wants to tell you needs to stay in her head till she reaches the street sign, then she can use her words and tell you what she saw.
The first time you do this she won’t stay silent the entire length of the block, and that’s perfectly normal. So simply stop, look in her eyes, and remind her that this is a no words walk until she gets to the street sign, then she can tell you what she saw. The key is to use a calm, monotone voice as you remind her, then use a very excited tone of voice at the end of the block.
One day soon she’ll have made it the entire block without talking, and you’ll have created a way to get some silence! Then you can move this tip into the car to gain a silent drive to the store, and on and on it goes. You may think that’s the end of it. Oh no my friend, that’s just the beginning.
What you’ve actually done is introduce the concept of observing things. Before this moment your child had no idea this concept existed. You couldn’t explain it, she had to experience it, that’s how kids learn, from experience. This tip just taught your child a key life skill. She’s using it now as play, but this tip has legs that grow with your child helping to guide her as she develops.
The art of observing doesn’t stop there. Consistently using a no words walk or drive while she’s young allows her to practice the skill of observation. This increases her awareness of what’s going on around her, and that helps keep her safe. During the tween and teen years she’ll be able to observe what her peers are doing and can decide whether or not she should participate.
This tip also teaches her the value of taking in information and thinking about it before sharing it. A key life skill we want all kids to have before getting on the internet.
You will have shown her how to wait … for your undivided attention. That skill will be used every day with you, with teachers, with family, with peers and eventually with employers.
Finally, you’ll have shown her how to calmly inhale the beauty of the world around her. A key life skill used when trying to find peace and calm in a stressful world. And all of this began with a no words walk.
The tips I suggest are meant to be simple so they can meet a child where they are developmentally and emotionally. And as you can see, the tips may be simple on the outside but that doesn’t mean they aren’t complex and multi-layered on the inside.
Take a look at the Authentic Parent Series and you’ll see that there’s a wealth of information in this series. Ideas and concepts that have legs that are complex and multi-layered, to help you and your child right-this-minute, and that will unfold for years to come.
Share this post with others you think might benefit from this information. And leave me a comment letting me know what you thought about this tip.