30 Day Mom Challenge Day 15: Be firm when needed, but not harsh.
This challenge harkens back to that French parenting article I discussed in the last post. According to the article, one of the tactics that French parents use is this idea of firmness without harshness. I really think it’s great advice.
I’ve long heard that to gain control in a conversation, speak at a low volume. The result is that the listener is forced to stop whatever it is they are doing and lean into the conversation, effectively forcing them to give you their undivided attention. I think this tactic works perfectly with children. Of course, if you’re a loud talker or a natural born yeller (ahem. Yes I am.), it might take a few tries. You don’t want to start out whispering (they won’t hear you) but you can calmly take it down a notch (like I did), and use a few more words, and the idea will come through. This is usually a more appropriate response to life rather than loud, boisterous craziness (which comes more naturally to us).
So to give us all time to get that boisterousness out, I try to make time in the day for crazy time and quiet time. If we’re in the car and I am frustrated to the point where even the kids’ laughing makes me want to lash out, we have music appreciation time and we listen to whatever is playing to talk about how the music makes us feel, about what instruments we can hear, how many voices singing. This simple and firm redirection often buys me a few minutes of calm.
So for me, the key to avoiding harshness is purposeful calm.
Some days work better than others.