Friday, June 26, 2009

The Toddler Tamer - Whispering A Song

Let me set the scene for you: It was raining outside all day so my 2 ½ year old did not get a chance to run off any steam. We spent the day doing puzzles, playing with play-doh, coloring, and reading books. This sounds like a fine day until you factor in how much energy my toddler had stored up inside her little body by the time the dinner hour came around.

I was trying to cook dinner at the end of this rainy day and my toddler was not at all excited about my attempts to fix her a hot nutritious supper. Instead she wanted me to continue playing games and doing art projects with her. As I was chopping veggies, boiling noodles, and browning hamburger my toddler was screaming “MOMMY, I WANT TO PLAY” over and over again, to which I answered “Sounds great peanut, please go ahead and play in your playroom”. This interaction took place about 50 times in a row. I was trying my best to keep it light and airy but I must admit that as the time passed I was getting more and more frustrated and the tone of my voice was beginning to match hers.

After about 10 minutes of going back and forth in this fashion we were both frustrated and I could tell that I was losing control of the situation. We were both getting louder and louder - both of us were thinking that raising our voices would convince the other one to do what we wanted them to do.

That is when I tried my new toddler taming activity: Whispering a song.

As she was screaming “I WANT TO PLAY, I WANT TO PLAY, I WANT TO PLAY”

I started singing the following song as softly as I could:

“Row, Row, Row Your Boat Gently Down the Stream, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is but a dream”

I just sang it in a whisper over and over again and soon she stopped screaming long enough to hear what I was saying. Then she just listened in silence. After a couple of minutes I stopped singing and it continued to be silent. She then said “Mommy, sing it again”, and so I did. For the next 15 minutes we sang very quiet songs together while I made dinner. It was pleasant and took the steam out of a highly charged situation.

I believe two factors caused this technique to work:

First, because I lowered my voice she had to stop screaming in order to hear what I was saying. Getting her to stop screaming was the first thing I wanted to get accomplished.

Second, when she stopped screaming long enough to hear what I was saying she was rewarded with a fun and recognizable tune that effectively engaged her in another activity. It distracted her from continuing to fight and got her interested in something that was much more pleasant.

Give it a try – I hope it works for you as well as it worked for me! Go to The Teachers Guide for a list of many childrens songs with the lyrics, midis, and print outs!

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