Yesterday as we were driving home from our farm pick-up, I was aware of my almost five year old’s running commentary on life. She was tired, and definitely gets “more chatty” the more tired she becomes. “Mommy, I want to have a sleepover with Timmy. Older Sister could come and sleep with Timmy’s older sister and I could sleep in Timmy’s bed. I wouldn’t be afraid…” “I am so hungry, I am starving!” “I am bored!” “It’s cold outside but I am not wearing my hat! My hat itches!” Chatter, chatter, chatter, complain, complain, complain.
How often do we feel the need to jump in to a tired, whiny, four or five year old’s world and talk them to death about it? How often do we jump in and negate her feelings? I could have said, “You are too young to go have a sleepover away from us.” “If you had eaten your lunch, you wouldn’t have been so hungry now.” “Your hat is fine, it fits you perfectly!”
What does a tired, hungry, whiny child need? No comment! Especially no comment on future plans that are not even in the works with all the reasoning about said future event. Stop talking! A smile, some distraction with singing, a reassurance that “we will be home soon” is all that is needed.
A tired, hungry child needs their basic needs for food,rest and connection met. If they cannot rest at that time (ie, it is dinner time and they need to stay up a bit longer and cannot nap now), how about some soothing repetitive physical activity? Pouring water, a bath, winding yarn, carding wool are all good choices.
Donna Simmons of Christopherus takes this approach with little children who are “chatterers” here: http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2005/12/litle_ones_who_.html
Make it your work this Advent season to have “no comment” unless it is essential. And this is morphing from children into Grown-Up Land, but please consider making it your work this Advent season to listen more than you talk, and to gather information before you blurt out a conclusion or advice. Remember what people want most when they talk to you is often just what a child wants – a warm smile, a hug, a bit of understanding. Sometimes the journey is long and rough, and ultimately one experienced within that individual’s soul.
A great reminder Carrie! We know this, but why, oh, why is it sooo hard to stop talking, to just not say anything and smile or simply reassure that poor child of ours, calmly and peacefully… I sure will work on this one during Advent! Thank you so much for this post!
Thank you for this. I always need the reminder to not respond so much since I have a very chatty four year old!
What do you do though when you either don’t respond, give a simple, “I wonder,” or something else other than give a direct explanatory answer… and the child keeps pushing for an answer, with, “Mommy, you’re not answering my question!!! You’re not listening to me!!!” and then the question over and over again. She gets very indignant when I brush aside her questions or don’t respond to many of her random comments. She’s been this way since she was one and would repeat a word over and over until acknowledged: “Cat! Cat! Cat! Cat!” until I said, “Yes, I see, that is a cat.” Even then, she would not stand for a simple, “Yes” or “Umm-hmm.” The less I respond, the more angry she becomes. My younger child is different from this. She is fine with me singing instead of answering everything and not talking much.
But I think she is searching for a boundary in what you will answer and when and when she does “X”; I also think it depends upon if she asking regarding some serious adult topic that she doesn’t need to know at the age of 4 or more something related to her play that is necessary to know to keep going. Also, I certainly would not answer more if she is getting agitated and angry. Using a soft voice and requests instead of demanding is something that is not always easy for a four year old but necessary to learn…:) I do think with your oldest though, I would think very, very carefully about her verbal input from adults in general…Silence, warm smiles, less talking all the way around, answering her questions as needed but not initiating a lot with her verbally…..
Pingback: Inner Work for The Holy Nights « The Parenting Passageway
Pingback: Parenting Light Bulbs. | picklebums.com
This is so true and something I try to remember but often forget. A couple of months ago I lost my voice for two days…two beautiful quiet happy days for the whole family. I really did notice a difference in the energy around the house. I couldn’t get all worked up and angry about things because I couldn’t bust out the stream of commentary, arguing, pleading etc that I tend to do with my children. If they were getting agitated, all I could do was breathe and be there with them, no talking about it, no fixing it. I was actually sad when I did get my voice back. Thank you for reminding me, that my own words and talking out loud are what create the conflict in my household. I’m going to post notes around the house for myself that say “No Comment” and “Talk Less”
What an amazing revelation! I think we would all like to lose our voice and try this out!!
Pingback: The Inner Work of Advent « The Parenting Passageway