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.