The following is a guest post from Kathy Stowell of Bliss Beyond Naptime.
My name is Kathy and I married a non-talker.
The man can go for days without saying a word but when he does everyone’s all ears and laps up each and every single, quiet, mono-toned, but potency-packed, syllable.
Over the years his borderline mute ways have shone a light on my latent desire to fill every empty airwave with ongoing commentary, idle questions and ramblings that can sometimes lead us down the rabbit hole of too much information. Especially for little ears that, unfortunately, make up the bulk of my listening audience.
Of all the ways to simplify tossing out the excess in the form of spoken words is often an overlooked way remove excess from our lives. Since shining a simplicity seeking searchlight on this realm I found a refreshing contrast between wading in an eddy of tranquil silence and floundering against the tide full of chit chat flotsam and jetsam.
Some of the savory side effects of zipping it more often than not include:
- time and space for words to sink in and be properly digested
- less distractions from the important work of deep play
- conservation of precious Mama energy from having to repeat herself the kids listen more
- a sense of peace in the house
It’s by no means a Vispassana retreat center here but by bringing awareness to this dimension of being human has made a substantial contribution to our quest for simplifying our parenting and our lives.
Five Ways You Too Can Talk Less to Your Kids
1. Filter your next utterance with these three questions: Is what I’m about to say true, kind and necessary?
This is a great filter found in Kim John Payne’s book Simplicity Parenting that, like everything else in parenting, takes some practice until it morphs into habit.
Write them down on piece of paper to post on the fridge or come up with a secret hand signal for you and your partner to remind each other. It’s a great team-building exercise to come up with one. I like miming a key locking my pursed lips.
2. Don’t ask about feelings so much.
It’s difficult for the little ones to find the words that describe the nuances of emotions and until around the age of nine. Plus, being little sponges that they are, they’re susceptible to projection at this time. Allow this age set to process in more nourishing, age-appropriate ways such as physical exertion, established rhythms and deep imaginative play.
3. Sing it, Sister!
My daughter watched The Sound of Music for the first time ever the other day. She loved it and I got to confide in her my childhood fantasy of being a Von Trappe kid. Why not get a little Maria and sing a bit of the day away instead of talking?
Learn a few simple songs by picking up a wholesome kids’ cd or refresh your memory with nursery rhymes you grew up with. Eventually the verses serve as an effective transition tool for moving from one activity to another. Before you know it you just simply have to hum the first few bars of “do a deer” and your kids will march off like little soldiers of love to wash their hands before dinner!
4. Get close and personal when offering instructions.
When you find something to say that has dripped through you true, beautiful and necessary word filter, and is particularly important that it be heard (such as a set of instructions or important reminder), stand physically close, with a strong but loving presence and make eye contact. Be matter of fact but speak with soft eyes.
5. Offer fewer choices.
It’s easier to be matter of fact when you’re not presenting a long list of options to pick and choose from. Kids are easily overwhelmed so sometimes even two choices can push them over the meltdown edge. So don’t ask if you can help it. That also goes for the high pitched ‘okay?’ I often catch myself doing at the end of some sentences. Don’t do it. Okay?
Like any simplicity making changes, this one isn’t going to be easy. But be gentle with yourself, celebrate the small triumphs and observe with curiosity your edges of discomfort and breathe into it. Again, work with your partner to give each other support and the reminders you will need along the way.
And above else make it fun. Yes, the silent treatment can be fun!
Kathy Stowell is a mother of two, Mama Bliss Coach and certified Simplicity Parenting Workshop Leader. Her next Simplicity Parenting Ecourse begins May 1st in which the exploration of how filtering adult content and limiting screen time can enrich our children’s experience of childhood will be celebrated and supported. Come back tomorrow for a special giveaway from Kathy!