Monday, September 24, 2012

Silent Signals

We love to use Silent Signals!  We have used this tool for various reasons with our daughter over the last few years.  A silent signal is one that, just as it sounds, is a physical, but silent, signal to your child to do or not do something.  The signal is decided and agreed upon by you and your child at a peaceful time, not during conflict.  The tool card says "Adults often talk too much.  A silent signal could speak louder than words."

Recently, our six year old daughter has started becoming more playful and rambunctious when we have guests over to our house.  This is very different behavior for her.  After a few different incidences of her climbing on people, dressing them up in tiaras and feather boas, and coercing them into games of Monopoly, I decided something needed to be done.  First, we needed to talk about what type of behavior was appropriate when guests were over.  We talked about wanting our guests to feel welcomed and relaxed, and to be able to enjoy some adult conversations.  In order to achieve these goals we listed some appropriate behaviors and also talked about some that weren't so great.  Then I told my daughter how much I appreciate her help when we have guests over, and that I know that they really enjoy seeing and spending time with her too.  I told her I thought it would be good if we had a secret signal we could use if she started to get caught up in playing and forgot about the appropriate behaviors we had agreed on.  I told her not only would it be fun to have a secret, but also then I would not have to correct her in front of other people.  She really liked that part of it!  I gave her some examples of silent signals we could use, and she thought of a few of her own.  In the end we agreed that either her dad or I would pull on our ear lobe if she needed a reminder of how to behave with guests.  We even did a couple of pretend skits to practice the signal.  About an hour before our guests arrived the next day I reminded her about the signal.  We ended up not needing the signal that day.  I am guessing just taking time for training was enough for her to rise to the occasion.  There have been other guest's since then, and each time we remind her of the signal before they arrive.  We have used the signal a few times, and it has worked perfectly each time!

I love this tool because it is so respectful of the child.  Children don't usually like to be scolded or even told what to do or not to do in front of other people.  It is humiliating to them.  But sometimes they do need reminders.  That is why this tool is so great.  First it gets you talking about expectations, so everyone is on the same page.  It requires participation, planning and agreement on the part of both parents and child.  This type of "pre-game plan" is so helpful for the child, they feel respected, in control of themselves, and prepared for what is expected of them.  It is just another great way to empower and respect your child while still helping them to learn how to navigate this life!

Next up: Letting Go!

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