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Teaching Your Kids That Silence Is Golden

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Teaching Your Kids That Silence Is Golden

Some days you just crave quiet. Your soul is yearning for calm and you’re thirsty for an environment with no chaos, no upheaval and no loud noises.

But your kids are yelling!

How do you deal? By screaming at them to be quiet? I hope not, because your best strategy is to model the behavior you want from them.

But think about it. No wonder kids are noisy—they’re surrounded by man-made sound almost constantly. Noise is so commonplace to them that they are often uncomfortable in silence. In a world where kids and adults alike are plugged into technology and listening to TV, videos and music, teaching our kids to be quiet is a precious lesson—one that helps them get calm and in touch with their inner selves.

Here are some strategies to get kids to be quiet.

1. First and foremost, always try positive reinforcement for good behavior. Praise them when they do what you ask. Kids love to please and want to know when they’ve done it well. They usually do what they think you expect of them, so if you tell them they’re always loud, they’ll continue to be loud. If you reprimand them for yelling and tell them how they are misbehaving, they’re likely to misbehave and keep yelling because that’s what you’ve focused on. If you want them to be still, then tell them how much you like it when they’re quiet. Let them know that you expect that they will be soft and gentle. Focus on the positive behavior you know they can do, not the negative behavior they sometimes engage in, in order to get more of that positive behavior.

2. Next, be clear about what you mean by getting quiet. Is it total silence you want or just not yelling and causing commotion? When you say, “Please be quiet.” your children might not even know exactly what you’re asking of them.

3. Talk with your kids about the value of stillness—how it relaxes your mind and renews your spirit and allows you to get in touch with what’s going on inside you.

4. Set aside times at home where no one will be plugged in to anything. As a family, you can use this time to read or have quiet conversation.

5. Go for walks with your kids in nature and allow them to experience the beauty and wonder of solitude where you focus on the songs of the birds overhead and the crunching of grasses and twigs underfoot.

Next: More tips and strategies for different ages

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Joanne Stern

Joanne Stern, PhD, is a psychotherapist with a private practice emphasizing counseling with families, parents, couples and teens. She’s a teacher, consultant, speaker, and expert guest on parenting and family topics, including communication, discipline, self-esteem, addictions, eating disorders, grief, and loss. Parenting Is a Contact Sport: 8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Kids for Life is her first book. A mother and grandmother, she and her husband, Terry Hale, live in Aspen, Colorado.

31 comments

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11:39PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

teaching them how to be quiet when it's socially appropriate would be good. however, not all children are the same. they don't all look at the world the same way. some children just don't have the type of personality where they can stand quiet environments for too long and forcing them to change who they are, is that really necessary?
i'm not saying that's what this article was telling people to do it's just something to think about

4:23AM PST on Feb 25, 2013

All education should start from family

4:51AM PDT on Jun 3, 2011

Talking to them about the value of stillness might be difficult when they are toddlers though.

12:26PM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

This is a great article! I really appreciate the note that telling kids to "be quiet" is really vague! Helping kids know what silence and quiet really mean, intentionally practicing silence--especially in nature--is SO helpful! Keep writing please!

8:10AM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

I will keep this article at hand and try some of the tips.

7:35AM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

excellent article,....................this should be given to parents in every schools in the world so that they can teach their children to be quiet and RESPECT other people privacy ESPECIALLY when they are out..or in restaurant etc.....


Also I think that people should understand that....: This is MY home. I should be allowed to control the environment inside MY OWN home....to be quiet....

Why is this so difficult for people to accept? If I don't want to listen to your choice of music, why don't I have that right?

Sronger laws should be in place AND applied!

4:12AM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

If you can not understand my silence, you will never understand me, they say. It is true but being non communicative is another thing and it is harmful for the soul!

3:06AM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

good tips! thanks!

1:07AM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

I dont even play music at home anymore--I just love natural sounds like birds singing.

11:21PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

Thanks for advise it fun to listen to children their ideas and cute stories but yes some time you need to have some peace and time to your self

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