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Teaching Your Kids That Silence Is Golden

6. Use times in the car when no one listens to music and allow your kids to sit in silence—just looking outside the car window absorbing what is there. You can even make a game of what they spy while looking quietly outside.

7. Talk with your children about what they feel when there is silence and how they experience being quiet.

Of course, there are different methods for helping differently aged kids be still.

For ages 0 – 5: a) Distract them. Get them engaged in singing their favorite song. Read them a story or tell them a story that captures their imagination and makes them forget their loud words. b) A firm no, if they’re yelling, is impactful. They don’t want to upset you or displease you and are most likely to get quiet. c) Give them a time out if they don’t do as you ask. But don’t get angry. It’s never a good idea to discipline out of anger because your kids learn that they get punished when you get angry rather than when they misbehave. It also makes them more afraid of you when you discipline in anger—and fear causes kids to close down and become more distant from you rather than building a close, trusting relationship with you. d) Create a quiet area—a small table and chair with a decoration they like. Have a book, a favorite toy or coloring book with crayons to entertain them. Take them there when they’re being too loud—not as a punishment, but as a place to re-set their decibel level and their mood.

For ages 5 – 10: a) Set aside quiet times to read in order to teach them that they don’t always have to be engaged in loud activities. b) Talk with your kids about your family values and include the value of quiet times, respect for others in the family and why these are important for all of you. Talk at their age level but begin to have these conversations about what is important to all of you in your family. c) Make sure they are getting the overall attention they need. If they’re not, kids will act out negatively just to get attention—because negative attention is better than no attention.

For ages pre-teen and teen: You can now talk with them as adults. a) Ask them for their help in setting the tone for the evening. This shows respect for their maturity and increases self-esteem to ask for their help. b) Set guidelines—with your kids—as to when there will be TV and music on, how people will talk to each other, what is acceptable in speech patterns and loudness and what is not. Along with these guidelines ask them to help you set consequences if they don’t adhere to what you decide. They need to learn that there will be consequences, but they need to be a part of setting them so they don’t rebel if or when you need to impose them. Imposing consequences feels different than punishing them because they have had a part in setting those consequences. Punishment, on the other hand, tends to feel like something is being done to them that they have no control over. Therefore, it tends to elicit more intense emotions and even rebellion.

Above all, always treat your children with respect. You can’t expect them to treat you better than you treat them.  They take their cues from you, so take the high road. You’re the parent—don’t allow your kids to drag you down to their level. Be gentle, be consistent and enjoy the golden gift of silence your kids give to you.

Related:
How to Discipline a Child
Tips for Finding Quietude
5 Ways to Create Meaningful Family Rituals

Read more: Children, Do Good, Family, Teens, , , , , , , , , ,

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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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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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