Summon the power of silence
“Hurry up.” “Come on.” “Let’s go.” Children are often at the mercy of our hectic pace. If we can even sometimes allow them to experience the soothing practice of silent parenting, we create more harmony and invite more cooperation. Try one or more of these practical ideas for summoning the power of silence:Peaceful requestsI was eating lunch at the high school football field where a dozen kindergartners from a nearby Waldorf school were running around. When it was time to go, the teacher stood in the end zone and silently waved her arms, motioning the kids toward her. As each child spotted her, they nudged a friend and ran toward her. Some were more reluctant than others, yet within minutes, all the children joined her. It took less time for her to silently round up those children than it would have yelling across the field.Written requests One way I have taught my children to peacefully get their needs met if I am on the phone is by writing a note to me. (Note: If you spend a large amount of time on the phone this practice will lose its effectiveness.) As illustrated below, my children heartily adopted my value of silent interruptions. One day our tenant came to the door while I was on the phone asking to speak with me. “You can’t interrupt her,” said my 5-year-old, “she’s on the phone. You’ll have to write a note.” A few seconds later my tenant handed me a note that read the washer is on fire! Later we discussed safety exceptions for silent interruptions.The salesman’s secret: the silent close. When making a request, pause for a moment of silence and watch your cooperation soar:”No, you may not sleep over at Molly’s house tonight.” Silence”You need to wear shoes in the store.” SilenceIn sales this is also known as the silent concession and is difficult to do – especially for those of us raised in word-ridden in western society. Here is the secret of the silent concession: Whoever speaks first after the proposal is offered will make a concession in the negotiation. So make the proposal, then zip your lip. Substitute silence for excessive talking. If we talk constantly, we’re not open to the two-way experience of connection. As the Japanese proverb says, “Speech is silver, silence is golden.” Look for opportunities in your day to fill with silence. Here are some of my wordless interactions:– I started putting my children’s lunch boxes on the stairs to the door instead of telling them 20 times not to forget their lunch boxes.– My toddler gets into the car with messy hair, and as I’m driving I just hand her a hairbrush (as a bonus, my choice of no words also greatly minimized this month-long power struggle over brushing her hair before going to preschool).– My child sneezes. I just hand her a tissue.In the words of Haim Ginott, “What you can say in a paragraph, say in a sentence. What you can say in a sentence, say in a word. What you can say with a word, say in a gesture.” Vickie Falcone is the YouthZone Director of Programming.
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