We have come to the end of our first month of 2013. How are all your resolutions coming? So far, so good here!
My parenting resolution this month was Speak Softly. By that I meant that I would not only try to keep my voice quiet, avoid yelling, but also to keep my words soft, by avoiding negative or hurtful words. Children are so sensitive, even the slightest sharp word aimed at a child can be very hurtful. This resolution required me to think or pause before responding to my children. This is easier at some times than others. When, for example, my toddler is dipping his fingers into the gross sludge in the bottom of the dirty dishwasher and then tasting them, it is very hard to pause and then respond calmly, and quietly. Needless to say there were a few days that I didn't feel I could check of this resolution during my nightly resolution assessment. But for the most part this resolution worked.
It is amazing how we can model self-control with our children to teach them to control themselves. When our children see us flip our lids, not only do they often feel very scared, but this teaches them that shouting and loosing control is an appropriate response to anger or stressful situations. When we instead remain calm, we teach self-control and show respect to our children. Sometimes speaking softly meant that I would simply walk away, calm down, and then return to the situation to deal with it more calmly. Other times it meant just letting go, choosing my battles. To my surprise, my children were able to resolve problems on their own, and learn from their experiences without my involvement at all. If I had intervened, especially with anger, I am sure the results would not have been as good.
The biggest surprise for me was how effective just using a calm and quiet tone of voice can be. Even when I was angry or upset with my children, when I kept my voice calm and talked to them softly, I could feel myself calm down much more quickly than if I had yelled and screamed at them.
All in all, this is a resolution that I hope to continue forever. When I spoke softly, I felt like I was being a better parent, I am pretty sure my children appreciated it and they responded by speaking more softly themselves, and I felt like I had an overall sense of peace. In keeping with this idea of what I say to my children, next month my parenting resolution will be to Avoid Nagging!