05 September 2009

The Sound of Your Voice

I love that song. (Sorry if the video is out of sync with the song. It didn't used to be) Anyway, I've been thinking lately. Again. I know, all this deep thinking is way out of character for me. But hey it's happening so I thought I should at least record it for posterity's sake, ya know?

So I was thinking about how I talk to my sweet daughter, Boogers. Anyone who knows her knows that she can be kind of in your face, loud, very talkative and extremely inquisitive. Her favorite words and phrases are, "Why, Mom?" "What are you doing, Mom?" "Why are you doing that?" "What did you say to (insert person's name)?" A month or so ago we were driving to my sister's house 2 hours away. The radio doesn't work in our car and my cell phone was dead so all we had was ourselves to keep us occupied. Boogers sang and chatted non-stop for over an hour. I'm not talking saying something then a break for a bit and then starting up again. It was non-stop. I didn't know someone's mouth could move for that long. She must have amazing muscular structure in her jaw. Sometimes all the questions and the never-ending chatter can get, well let's just lay it all out there and say sometimes it just gets plain annoying.

I have found myself falling into the pattern of using harsher tones of voice than necessary to talk to her. My fuse has been shorter than it needed to be. Lately I've really tried to stop that. I don't want her to look back at her childhood and remember her mom being annoyed with her all the time. Plus I want her to be happy now. I noticed that when I used harsh tones her countenance would change and frankly mine too. If I snapped at her then I was more likely to snap at her the next time I asked her to do something or stop doing something. Like I said in my last post, I want our home to be a place of refuge from the world. Somewhere that she can go after a long day at school and possibly after interacting with some not so nice kids and feel safe. So this week I tried an experiment.

I changed the way I spoke to her. I can't say I've really changed the words I use very much, but just the tone of voice. "Go brush your teeth!" turned into "Boogers, it's time to go brush your teeth, please." or something to that effect. And you know what? It's actually working. She has become such a better listener the last few days than ever before. Not only is she behaving better, but both of us are happier. There isn't any more sulking and pouting (well that hasn't gone away completely but it's not heaven here) or hurt feelings from her. Plus I find that if I use a happier tone of voice, I am most likely to continue to use that tone of voice. Like I said, I haven't really changed what I say, just how I say it. I have discovered that the sound of my voice has such an effect on our home-for good and for bad.

Maybe it's just coincidence but I'm hoping it's not.


Anonymous said...

Oh, crap. I was just thinking this today after I yelled at my 6-year-old. I am having a really hard time not yelling lately. I sometimes think I should not see people until I am feeling more pleasant. But that would probably constitute abandonment, where my family is concerned.

Thanks for sharing this. It is (another) good reminder for me.

Jessica said...

Good for you! It's amazing what a difference it can make when mom's tone is softer, huh?

Anonymous said...

Very timely reminder for me as well. Although, sometimes my kids don't seem to take me seriously until I raise my voice a little. The problem is, they've trained me so well that I just skip to the yelling part before giving them a chance to respond to the asking nicely attempts. I better start trying again!

Melissa said...

I've struggled with this too. It's not always easy to keep that annoyed tone out of my voice!
Kudos to you for noticing the problem and doing something about it!