11/22/2012

The Voices of Motherhood


I've been watching mothers lately.  Well, not exactly lately... I've been watching mothers, closely, since I had my own kids.  Watching other mothers is a great way to get natural and pressure free parenting advice.  There are so many different parenting styles and observing mother/father/child interactions is a great way to see which philosophies work the best for your family.

In my mother watching, (and I use mothers loosely as "parents"- I just have more interactions with mothers- but mothers and fathers can be used interchangeably here) I've noticed, that when a child misbehaves or presses the limits in some way, mothers use four basic responses in dealing with their children.  Personally, I've used each one, depending on the situation, but I think all of us favor one method or the other and the one we favor makes a large difference on the overall behavior of our children.

1.  The Redirection.
This is when the child wants a lollypop and instead of saying what you are thinking, "NO way, are you crazy!?  I'm making dinner???" you say, "oh look at these yummy cucumbers.  I can cut them like a heart and that will be so much fun!"

The Redirection contains a fun, alternative activity/solution so that the word "No" does not have to be introduced.  Sometimes, the Redirection is so much easier than the fight, especially when the fight (the lollypop verses the cucumber), really isn't that big of a deal in the overall picture.

The Redirection becomes less effective in the overall picture when it is a child throwing rocks at people being redirected to throw them in the lake instead, for example.  Some things are worth the fight.

2.  The Whine.
The Whine is actually a whine from the parents.  It is usually accompanied with statements such as, "why did you throw your plate on the floor?" or "Don't hit your brother with the stick."  The Whine also generally has omitted the authoritative "No!"

I admit, I have been known to use the Whine, but it generally accompanies complete accidents with statements like "why did you spill your milk again?" or "you knocked over the laundry I just folded?"  My Whine is usually followed by a "Please be more careful..."

Quite often, though, I have observed the Whine used for much more serious infractions.  The problem with the Whine is that the children don't learn the seriousness of their infraction, just like with the Redirection.  They have no reason to change the behavior, whether it is knocking over the folded laundry, running out in the street or coloring on a playdate's coffee table.

3.  The Mom Voice
The Mom Voice is a stern, no- nonsense, ever so slightly raised tone of voice that portrays the seriousness of the situation. The Mom Voice generally contains the word "No" (or a form of it) and is accompanied with a look that could melt butter in an ice storm.  Occasionally it is followed up with the threat of a consequence but generally the memories of past consequences stop the behavior with just the reminding look and tone of voice.  (The Mom Voice only works effectively when the promised consequence is actually followed up on, otherwise, The Mom Voice has no credence.)

4. The Scream
The Scream is just that, an end of the rope, all patience lost, all out scream(ing).  Some moms begin and end with this (and all in between) and some moms resort to this when they have lost every other battle and are at the end of their rope.  (We've all been there.)


I'm sure, at some point, we've each done it all.  But, I have noticed that we all favor one method.  What do you use and how's it working for you?

Whaddya think?

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