Good morning. I've got a new question I want to answer for us today. The question is:
"How do I get my kids to use inside voices? They never listen to me."
Love this question. This can be so hard and it is a wonderful example of the power of boundaries and follow through. So, usually when we have a situation where kiddos are not responding to what we're requesting of them, it can mean that we are not following through on consequences with the behaviors.
So, kiddo's jobs are to push our boundaries. That is their natural proclivity. They're learning how to follow rules and how to be respectful and so our job as parents is to think through what boundaries are important to us in advance, and then connect that to appropriate consequences. And, then, when the kids predictably step over the line, which they will, to follow through on the consequences, calmly and lovingly, but consistently. So for example, if using inside voices in the house is something that's a high priority for you to teach your children, then you would want to give some advanced thinking to what you want the natural consequence to be.
If they choose to not use inside voices, it might be that they will need to put on a jacket and go outside, even if it's cold and they don't want to. If you decided that was the consequence that you wanted to use, then ideally you would let the children know that in advance and just say,
"if you choose to use outside voices inside, I will choose to, or your consequence will be that you will need to go outside to play, to use those outside voices for the next 15 or 30 minutes."
Now, obviously that's not a punishment, we don't want to make going outside to play a punishment. It's just a natural consequence of using outside voices inside. That would be one possible way that we could connect the behavior to a consequence. And, so the next time the child used the outside voice inside, then as a parent, the the key is to follow through every single time on that consequence, no matter what. So, that would mean very calmly, very lovingly, saying little Suzy, little Johnny, little Enrique, little whoever your child's name.
"I see that you chose to use an outside voice inside and. As you'll recall, what that means is that you are choosing then to go outside for the next 15 minutes. So please go get your jacket and go outside."
And then the child will say:
"I don't want to, I want to stay inside. I want to play my Game Boy. I don't think that's fair."
And as a parent, just be a broken record:
"I hear that you don't think that's fair. I'm sorry that you chose that consequence. I understand that you're frustrated. Please get your jacket and go outside."
And, just be consistent. Be calm and follow through. The reason, usually, that kiddos fail to connect their behavior to a consequence is because we have maybe not always followed through on the corrective choice, to help them to connect the behavior to the result.
And so I hope that's helpful. And thank you so much for submitting this question.