When I call my kids’ names I am met with silence. My voice no longer makes their ears turn on. In fact it might do the complete opposite! They don’t hear me over the TV show or playing or reading books. My voice has lost some power.
Their lack of response makes me unsure if my directions are going to be followed. Often, they leave the room so I have a false sense of certainty that they are following directions. When they return 30 seconds later it becomes obvious they heard the noise of my voice but not the words.
It’s time to take the power back.
We need to get their attention before we start giving them tasks. We need to allow them to stop what they are doing so they can listen. Kids don’t multitask – they cannot think or play and take in extra information. Parents cannot remain patient and kind when completely ignored.
I am always surprised when visiting my kids’ classrooms at how the teachers keep things quiet and calm. How they aren’t yelling over the volume of the kids and how the kids turn their heads and listen.
In an interview with The New York Times, Robert Abramson, director of the Dalcroze Institute in Manhattan, says:
”When children can’t stop talking, teachers wind up screaming. You make a game of it, so children have to listen, move, balance, watch … combining established rhythm and movement techniques … help students learn to pay attention.”
So, I began to use a simple technique heard in many schools – a rhythmic clap that my kids have to repeat. This is acknowledgement that they know I am asking for their attention. It is an audible signal to stop what they are doing. It is clear and direct. It doesn’t make me want to scream and yell in frustration!