Can You Really Train Your Kids to be Quiet? This Dad Says Yes – Anytime, Anywhere!
Want to know what your little one does when you’re not around? She talks. He squirms. She wiggles. He moves.
Oh wait, you already knew that. They do that when they're around you.
But the moment will arrive when you need them to sit still and be quiet, maybe even for long stretches at a time. That’s a tall order for a child of any age. Some might even say it’s downright impossible.
Think about all the places where your child needs to be relatively quiet: a show, meeting, library, hospital, museum, church, or in any waiting area. That’s a lot of times you’ll need him to show his calm side, use her quiet voice, or feel his Zen.
Fear not fellow parent, let’s train that savage beast! (Er, child.)
Use your toolbox – The sports adage, “the best defense is a good offense,” certainly applies here. It’s important to give children plenty of reasons to stay busy. But don’t make the mistake I’ve seen others do by bringing items that make noise when they drop onto the floor (think Hot Wheels). Bring small, soft toys that don’t make a sound. Some other excellent items include cloth picture books, lift-the-flap books, and drawing pads. My go-to secret weapon? Band aids. You’ll be amazed at how long tiny toddlers will fuss over trying to open them and stick them on-and-off their shirts. One attractive item to remember is that a lot of these suggested items can fit in your pockets, no huge diaper bag necessary.
Use ‘em as needed – Another oversight I’ve seen is when parents pull all the tricks out of the bag at once. It overwhelms the child and they quickly tire of everything in front of them. A better game plan is to think of this as a multi-course meal where you savor the items. Unveil them one-at-a-time, only as needed. When you’ve thoroughly milked all you can from the drawing pad, for instance, then you can pull out the mini keyring Etch-A-Sketch (yes, another excellent distractor).
Practice – Next time you’re in the car or sitting mindlessly at home, play the “Quiet Game.” The idea is to see who can stay the quietest the longest. It’s a lot of fun watching kids test their mettle to see who can last longer while biting their lips to fight the urge to giggle. But it’s important training to get them accustomed to keeping quiet and still. I’ve often looked at our kids when only extreme quiet would do and said, “It’s time to play the Quiet Game,” and I’m happy to report it usually works. The important thing here is that you’re getting them used to keeping quiet.
Must be in the front row – You must think I’m out of my mind by suggesting you should sit in the front row at some public event. I’ll admit that it’s not right for everyone. All I’m saying is that it’s something to consider. Sometimes being in the front helps children to see things better, keeps them more engaged, and it just might keep them in better order. It could also give you an “out” if you want to excuse yourself from a boring meeting. The idea is sounding better already, isn’t it?
Hold them – I realize kids don’t always want to be held, but do whatever you can do keep them in your lap. Wrap your arms around them and hold them no matter what. Look at it this way, the day will come when they won’t want to be held.
If things don’t always go as planned, just remember – they’re kids. We notice their faults a lot more when we're feeling the pressure for perfection and total silence, so give them a little slack and work on helping them in the future.