If You Want Someone’s Attention, Whisper

Before I had kids I knew exactly what I was doing. I just knew that when I had kids they would be wonderful and well behaved, I would talk with my children, explain things to them and they would happily listen to their mother. And then Hailey was born and I realized I knew absolutely nothing.

Prior to having children I didn’t see anything wrong with a swat on the butt if a child deserved it, that’s not child abuse, that’s effective parenting. Then I saw Hailey’s face and that all went out the window. I’m not saying that spanking is wrong, it’s just not right for me. I don’t believe that a swat on the bottom will scar your child for life or make you a bad parent. I was spanked as a child and I have no more issues than people who weren’t spanked. I don’t think I was any better behaved than other children, I just quickly learned to do my misbehaving out of Mom’s sight.

We all have moments when our children push us to the brink, when we really do understand why some animals eat their young, it certainly seems easier than dealing with tantrums and biting and not sleeping at night. Because I didn’t feel right about spanking I had to find another way to express my displeasure when Hailey was misbehaving. For me, it was getting very quiet and soft spoken. Hailey knew when I whispered she was in big trouble. If I got down to her level and spoke directly to her, very quietly, she knew she had crossed the line.

I didn’t do this with any forethought, that’s just the way it worked out for me. It proved especially useful when I became a single parent. Parenting is difficult, doing it without the luxury of a break is so very hard. Add to that the fact that you always feel you and your child are being judged by your single status and it’s even more important to be able to discipline your child anytime, anywhere, without make a scene.

Try it sometime, if you whisper and they have to listen closely it seems to have even more impact that yelling. There were times when I just wanted to lash out, I was angry, she wouldn’t listen and I was going crazy. I would force myself to be very, very gentle with my touch and my tone. It worked like a charm.

Once Hailey and I were in the library and we found the books she was looking for and I set her at one of the desks to read while I browsed the shelves. After about ten minutes she was bored and wanted to go. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except that she started being really loud and obnoxious about it. The louder she got the quieter I got until finally I was on one knee with my hand on her arm, quietly telling her that she had just lost all privileges for the day. At that time a librarian walked by and actually stopped and thanked me for being so gentle with my child, she said she sees so many parents yanking their kids by the arm or spanking them that it was nice to see a Mom talking quietly with her child when she was misbehaving.

That conversation took the wind out of Hailey’s sails and she was well behaved the rest of our library trip. Even at 18 she knows, if Mom is quiet, that means you are really in trouble.