Sunday, May 6, 2012

Our kids notice everything we do so...

I've noticed an increase in the volume of my children. They are loud. It drives me bananas sometimes. And I go, "why can't you just be quieter?"
"Why must you yell and shout at each other?"
"Stop it!"
And then my husband and I were having one of those deep meaningful parenting talks that we get into sometimes when the kids are sleeping.  And he mentioned that he noticed us having shorter tempers with the kids.  Our tendency has been to raise our own voices.  No wonder the kids are being loud, they are just doing what we have been modelling for them.  I know it sounds cliche, but actions speak louder than words.  Kids do what they see, not necessarily what they are being told. 
We made the decision to do something about it.  We've started off with small steps.  Example, when it's dinner time, instead of yelling up the stairs for the kids, I take the trek up to their room, knock on their doors and very politely let them know that dinner is ready.  Another example: when my son's friend's mom came to pick him up one afternoon, I didn't yell up to the boys that L's mom was here, I went upstairs, knocked on the door and (again) politely, let them know L's mom was there, they had 5 minutes to clean up so she could get him home for supper.
Amazingly enough (or maybe not so amazingly), the volume of the house has gone down, way down!  There's less protesting from the kids because I'm treating them with respect.  They are speaking kinder to each other because I'm speaking kinder to them.  I'm also taking the time to givepositive time outs and demand (again politely) respect.  If one son starts to yell at the other, I will ask that child to come see me and explain that we do not yell at each other, we need to speak respectfully and listen to each other.  If one child snaps at me and speaks to me rudely, I will point blank tell him that I do not deserve to be spoken to in such a manner.  I will be glad to speak and talk through whatever is bothering him, when he uses a polite tone.  And it's working!
Today, I went to use the main bathroom and saw that there were toothpaste streaks all over the mirror.  It was obvious that one child had gotten toothpaste on it and used a facecloth to try to get it off, but all they ended up with was a big mess.  Now, in previous times I would have yelled down the stairs for both boys to come up and explain it and then probably bawl them out for doing it.  Today, I walked down and in a very kind voice asked if one of them knew what happened to the mirror.  At first, they seemed to have no idea what I was talking about, so I asked them to follow me up the stairs, bringing the Windex and a cloth along.  I just explained that it had to have been one of them, and that the considerate thing to do if that happens is to clean the mirror properly so that others could use it, all they have to do is ask for help.  My oldest then spoke up and said that it was him and that it was an accident, he didn't know what to do and thought he'd be in trouble.  I told him there was no trouble, and we cleaned off the mess together.  He then returned to what he was doing before and both of us stayed relaxed and content.  What a difference!  I think this is really going to work.  I just have to remember to keep it up and keep my own cool!  After all, it's up to me to teach my children about respect and manners and if I'm not modelling it for them, then what?