Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Best Gifts

We are told to seek after the "best gifts" of our Heavenly Father here on Earth. I hope someday to find my heart has become as pure and undefiled as my sweet Sabrina's. 

Today she called a "family council" together. I was curious as to what was so pressing on her mind that she felt the need to gather us in such a formal occasion. We all sat down in the living room and turned the time over to her. 

"I have noticed that there has been a lot of yelling going on around our house," she said sheepishly looking at me. It is true. I have been coming down hard on "clean up after yourself month" and using a raised voice to get the attention of little people who seem to have selective hearing.

"Well I was just thinking," she continued, "that we should not be yelling and that we should play the Camille music instead." 

Earlier today we Sabrina docked the ipod in the stereo and it started playing music. Two songs in it switched from Christmas music to Camille's lullaby and then on to Calling All Angels and That Glorious Day. The atmosphere in the house noticeably changed almost instantly. That sweet beautiful feeling that filled our home in the weeks and months after Camille's passing was suddenly all around us. We all got quiet as the music played, even the baby. I noticed it at the time. We didn't stop what we were doing. But we did it all with more .... well ... reverence. 

I was so amazed that my sweet eight year old daughter recognized this shift and wanted more of it in our home. I told her how happy I was for her suggestion and her reminder to me to find another way to get my children to obey that is more in keeping with the Spirit that should be in our home.

I will be working on that as my goal for February. But I think I will start that February goal today. I have an idea or two on how to do this but I am open for suggestions. Has anyone found some way to get their kids to listen and obey without having to raise their voice?


Joan said...

I love how the music affected the feelings in your home! What a blessing.
An effective way to remind your children is to get eye to eye and in a soft voice make a positive statement: Clothes on the floor need to be in the laundry basket, or crumbs on the table should be wiped off. Afterwards a quiet thank you and a smile will help both mother and child to continue to feel the Spirit.

Mary said...

I just try to keep my voice low and to remind them how much I need their help. I think they like being appreciated as much as I do! At the end of the day, I make sure to give Daddy a run-down of the day, positives first, with the kids in ear-shot.
I also have a character chart where they earn checkmarks for displaying good character, and reminding them of the reward for 10checkmarks usually gets them moving.

Diana...aka...MeMe said...

All lot of positive reinforcement!! Kind words, every day, reminding them of how thoughtful, kind, hard working, considerate, and helpful that they are being. Stephanie, you are doing a great job. Just in the fact that Sabrina could tell her family her thoughts... so sweet. She learned this from you and Jonathan. You should be so very proud of her! Though my children are grown (and believe me, I was a yeller!!), I have the chance to do it all over again as I watch my grandchildren. I work hard to show them in positive ways how great they are and they really respond and step up to the plate to show Meme how truly GREAT they are!!!

Kelly said...


I am amazed that I opened my computer and read this post today. This morning in church we were asked to get with 2-3 people around us and pray about what was on our hearts and what our fears are. Mine was what has been weighing so heavily on me lately and that is...raising my voice and allowing anger to get ahead of me with my children. I holler. Loud. It gets none of us anywhere, but I come from quite a good yeller (my mom) and I feel that if I don't do something about it soon then my kids will grow up to be the same as me. That is my fear. Fear does not come from the Lord, I know. So it is up to me to break this cycle. I pray that we'll be able to do just that. I thank you for your candid honesty and appreciate that God allowed this to come up in both our lives to share in it. Thanks, Stephanie!

Kelly said...

P.S....I obviously don't have any suggestions, so I'll be tuning in to hear if any of your other followers have some good ones! :)

Andrea said...

Well, I've read your blog for quite sometime, and have admired you for the way you handle yourself with such grace, and take such an honest look at your own life. It is very inspiring, and makes me want to be a better mom.

I decided to comment today because I got lucky in the library one day as I was looking through parenting books. I don't read too many because I think that good common sense and and staying intune with the spirit can many times give you much more direction. However, I stumbled across the book,

"ScreamFree Parenting, Raising your kids by keeping your cool" By Hal Edward Runkel.

It was very enlightening to me, not because it had all of these profound words of wisdom, but actual real life scenarios of making your kids accountable for the choices they make. A reiteration of what I already knew but not trying to teach you some new kind of method, more encouraging you to use what you inately know inside of you.

If you have time, it is a fairly quick read, and much recommended.

Jami said...

In our house I have a chalkboard that is divided with the kids names...on in each column. We go to the store and pick our a toy that is worth a certain number of smiley faces...a barbie is worth ALOT (like 400 smiley faces). If my children do what I'm asking them the first time, they get a smiley face...if not a frowny face that cancels out a different smiley face. Does that make sense? Lots of listening pays off with the toy of their choice...they just have to WORK for it. Good luck.

Jed and Kaydence said...

I, too, come from a home where yelling was happening all the time. I hated it. I vowed that when I got married, I wouldn't yell at my husband or my kids.

Then Jonas turned three and that became difficult. There was one day in particular that left us both in tears and I knew something had to change. I wasn't a "common" yeller, but some days I let myself get too overwhelmed and it wasn't conducive to the spirit.

Anyhow, I also found "ScreamFree Parenting" which helped tremendously. Also, "Parenting with Love and Logic". They have both changed my perspective on parenting tremendously. They helped me realize that the more I run my home like God "runs" the world, it is more peaceful. Free agency, consistently enforced consequences, giving adequate information and not blind commands, etc... all hep kids develop responsibility and sense of self. And at what point you give up a little bit of control. Giving up control is hard, but you make little compromises to help your children learn their place and figure out their minds and help them develop problem solving skills.

I am rambling, but the point is, God is great. And His plan works on a Macro scale as well as a Micro scale.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with yelling as long as it doesnt become your normal tone of voice! We were all yelled at as kids and were all okay right! My mom only yelled when asking nicely didnt get our attention. When she did yell we knew she was serious and we did what was asked right away so not to upset her more. I'm glad my mom yelled at me once and awhile, it was good to know she had didnt levels of emotions.

Audra said...

A saintly friend of mine used "whispering" to her kids to get them to listen and I thought it would never work. I've been doing that for about 5 years and it does! Also popping in our Primary CD for the year chills them right out.

Kristen said...

please, please write an update post on this. I have a 2 1/2 y/o and a just over 1 y/o with BIG personalities and there are some days when I have felt that all I've done is raise my voice. I am trying to remind myself that they need guidance and patience and I try to get their attention with the whisper voice but I easily raise my voice. so an update on your suggestions too would be wonderful!

How sweet of your Sabrina to make this wonderful suggestion! What a sensitive, caring girl.

Brimaca said...

My grandma had 12 kids. She said she'd pull them aside and whisper in their ear. Apparently it worked well. I'm not so good at it yet.

cynphil6 said...

When our kids were little, we had a porcelin dove (representing the spirit) in the front room. When we noticed that the spirit wasn't there, the dove "left the room". Then it was up to us to figure out why we lost it. Was it because someone wasn't minding, or someone hurt another's feelings, someone was angry? Anyway with the really little ones, it seemed to help having a visual.
As the kids grew, (and the dove was broken) it's different. I too have used the "love and logic" style. Instead of yelling, carry out the consequence and say, "don't worry _____. I'm sure you'll remember better the next time.

Krista Jones said...

I found a book at the library that helped so much that I bought a copy. It's called "1-2-3 Magic" by Thomas Phelan, Ph.D.

The author is a child psychologist, and he has some REALLY great ideas!
The book teaches accountability and the different manipulation techniques children often use, and how to recognize them. It provides great methods of how to diffuse the situation by removing yourself, and putting the responsibility on the children's shoulders. Some methods he suggest are a great Counting Method, Simple Requests ("I want your homework complete by 5:00") Timers ("Everyone who eats all their dinner by the timer's ding gets a treat!), a Docking Method, etc.
Here is an example of using the Docking Method for chores:
If a child gets an allowance or some kind of a reward system, you can charge them your fee for completing the action you asked them to complete. For example, you say, "Abby, I'm doing laundry. Will you please pick up the dirty clothes on your floor and bring your hamper to the laundry room?" Abby says 'I will do it later.' You then say, "You have 10 minutes to pick up your clothes and bring me your hamper. If they are not cleaned up and in the laundry room in 10 minutes, I will do it for you, but I charge $2. I will take it out of your allowance." You could also charge stickers, or charge their desert at dinner, etc.

It works well for Abby as long as I follow through with the consequences.

Here is the link to buy the book on Amazon:

I hope it helps! It brought sanity to my home!

The White Clan said...

I found an article in the Family Fun magazine for February. It was a no nagging way to get your kids to clean up. You get a white board and whenever you find something of theirs on the floor you write it down and where it was. like, "back pack in the living room" or "hair bow by the couch" and then it is there and they see it and can erase it when they pick it up and put it away. I started it today because I am so tired of having to tell them over and over again. I even put their homework on there and that way they know they do nothing until that stuff is done. I also have a 3 year old so i just drew generic pictures on there for him. So far so good. but we will see how long it lasts. :) Good luck!

Presley family said...

What a sweet, sweet little girl. I loved seeing you and being about to hold sweet Noble!!!!

Amber said...

Two weeks ago we started using some suggestions found in a parenting book, "Parenting the Strong-Willed Child." One technique is 'attending' your child, which is simply describing your child's appropriate behavior. For example, I give a 'play-by-play' of what my 3 year old is doing (in a positive voice): "Audrey is flapping her wings like a bird." Or stating at dinnertime, "Audrey is sitting in her chair."
By making these statements throughout the day it takes the focus off of negative behaviors and helps balance out the times when you do have to discipline. I've found that my 'strong-willed' 3 year old is generally more obedient and cooperative simply because of the positive attention.

{ Bethany } said...

What a sweetie! I saw an idea on Ohdeedoh the other day that I liked...they hung little wooden mailboxes on each other's bedroom doorknobs (or placed a little tin one on the nightstand by the bed, etc) so they could write each other notes and leave them in the mailboxes for each other! I thought that was so sweet and fun. I want to do it at least during February.

You could also start a secret service game, where everyone tries to do something nice for someone else without getting caught...and maybe they leave behind a "warm fuzzy" to alert the person to what was done! Everyone could get their own jar and the goal would be to have everyone's jar filled up by such-a-date, and then you get to have a family pizza night or something!

I don't know if that will decrease the yelling (or get kids to pick up after themselves, lol) but it will at least make things more fun in the meantime! :) Good luck! (and if you find the magic answer, let me know!!!!)


Raena Johnson said...

Something small that I do when my kids are calling for me is always answer them with a 'yes?' instead of a 'what?' It sounds so much more respectful and I rarely find myself yelling 'yes' as opposed to screaming 'whaaaat' up the stairs. I also hear my children respond to one another this way too and I gotta say, I like the sound of it b/c it is so much more positive. Cheesy and small I know.