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October 7, 2014

The Strong, Silent Type

Image: Flickr/Max Mayorov

Image: Flickr/Max Mayorov

“A loud voice cannot compete with a clear voice, even if it is a whisper.” (Barry Neil Kaufman)

There’s something about the power of quietness that modern society doesn’t know how to cultivate. We get anxious and feel like we have to compete with so many other voices. But when we bluster and shout at our kids in order to get them to comply, we’re not really getting through to them. What’s worse, they can tell that we’re not in control, and it makes us seem like a hurricane — they just have to hold on until we blow over.

It takes real discipline and genuine self-control to whisper to your child — not through gritted teeth, but with calm, cool confidence.

When you find yourself on the verge of “losing it” with your child, take a nice, long, deep breath and remember that you’re the adult in this situation. Come closer to them and tell them very, very quietly that they have choices. Lay out their options and let them know the possible consequences of those options (both positive and negative). Then walk away.

Generally speaking, you’ll find that a few words spoken softly with conviction will get you a whole lot farther than any yelling ever could. That’s because, when you wear your authority well, it cuts through all the other noise your kids hear, and it speaks volumes for you.

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