Tuesday, June 29, 2010

“T’s” to Tame Tension

At times, we’ve all sensed rising tension as we discipline an unruly child. Kids can get cantankerous, we feel frustrated and get angry, arguments explode and reckless words can be said on either side. Here are tips to help ease the tension so you can successfully confront and correct behavior:

1. Talk in a quieter voice. Children, of any age, can easily misinterpret an adult’s higher volume as “being mad” at them. Then they become defensive, yell, and voices spiral into a shouting match. By lowering your voice, you display self-control and help children feel psychologically safe during times of conflict. With my daughters, I found that my calm, assertive voice weakened a storm on the homefront. Remember, you don’t have to scream to discipline.

2. Teach emotional literacy. If you’re annoyed, say so, and if worried, identify that feeling too. Naming your emotions helps children learn about you and to recognize their own feelings as well. Often I’ve said to my daughters, “I’m feeling disrespected” as a forewarning and to teach them about emotions. When kids are “emotionally literate,” they’re more able to tell you how they feel, rather than act out their feelings.

3. Take time out. During a disagreement with my children, I’ve occasionally removed myself briefly from the situation. By going to my room for a pause, I’m able to gain perspective, think through my response, and rejoin my daughters to skillfully correct their behavior. Rather than remaining in a tense situation, engaging in an angry outburst you may regret, and comprising your discipline skills, take a short time out.

Have you used any (or all) of these Ts? Tell me about it in the comments below:
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Laurie Wallin said...

Oooh, love the way you simplified this! What a great idea. I often also sing while lowering my voice because it helps make my breathing more regular. So, "T for Try to sing?" or "T for turn into a musical?" :)

Thanks for your post!

Brenda Nixon said...

Thanks for your comment Laurie. I like your "T" too.