Friday, March 11, 2011

My New Toolbox, Part 3, Total Voice Control

(I learned something new about Blogger last night. If you are changing the title of a post, and you accidentally hit "Enter", Blogger will publish your post. I'm sorry if you got the rough draft before I could remove it. This is the complete edited post.)

This is my understanding of Dr. Karyn Purvis's information. She's a genius. I hope I don't butcher it.

Your voice communicates volumes about how you feel about misbehavior. It either shows the child that you are firm, safe and loving (which means your child is lovable) or that you are angry, not safe and your love may be in jeopardy. All with your voice and body language.

Scary. I know.

The key is to control your voice precisely according to the level of behavior.

Girls spend our whole lives practicing the control of our voices. (Note the shrieking, whining, whispering, talking, singing, and dramatizing that girls do.) We all can actually control our voice, if we want to. Taming the tongue. Not easy, but vitally important if we want our kids to find healing.

Somewhere along the line, I misused my voice and got the reaction I wanted. Then I jumped to yelling or sarcasm or growling or staccato for daily discipline. :-( I hate that.

So Dr. Purvis gave us a plan to change the way things are.

Total. Voice. Control...... Tone. Volume. Cadence.


There are four levels of confrontation. Level 1 includes a wide range of general disobedience or foolishness, including lying, stealing, backtalk, not sharing, etc. Level 2 is a sustained challenge, when the kid refuses to comply even though she understands what is required. Level 3 is threatening or acting aggressively. Dr. Purvis didn't cover Level 4, but I'm sure it means serious aggression or violence. (State laws vary on how to handle that.)

So for a Level 1 offense (General Disobedience): Your tone should be light, high and playful. Volume should be low. Cadence should be quick. This combination tells the child that you are not a threat, you are the leader, and he has the opportunity to make things right on his own. Say things like, "Are you asking or telling?", "Who's the boss here?", "Is that your toy?", "Did you ask for a snack?" or "Would you like to try that again?" Many times, the child will self-correct with a re-do at this point.

For a Level 2 offense (Sustained Challenge): This is a situation where the kids says, "No. I'm not going to do it." Your tone should go down just a little, not so playful this time, but not threatening. Volume gets slightly louder and your cadence slows down a little. Give the child two choices. Say things like, "You can ask me politely, or you may put away the toy.", "You can give that toy back or I can do it. Would you like me to do it?" Especially if you have a kid from hard places, you must have a third choice available. If you notice the child is either not processing the choices or jumping into fight, flight or freeze, offer the choice to think it over a minute. You'd be amazed at how often that diffuses the situation. A lot of times, I just say, "I'm going to let you have some time to think about that," and walk away. But not too far away, just far enough that I'm not seen as a threat or a tyrant. Make sure you are available when the child has made up her mind.

For a Level 3 offense (Threat or Aggression): Move quickly between the aggressor and the other person, or , face the aggressor if you are the target. Plant your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your arms in an "X" in front of you. Your tone is low and serious. Volume is loud (but not yelling). Your cadence is very slow. Still, you do not want to appear threatening. Say things like, "We. do. NOT. say. kill." or "We. do. NOT. hit." Then softer, "Give me words to tell me what you need." Try not to get physical with the aggressor. (I know this is really hard, since your systems are ramped up, too.) Keep in mind, that you are trying to bring the threat alert down a notch. Diffuse the situation first, then deal with correction.

So, there you have it.

Total Voice Control.
Tone Volume Cadence.

What do you think?

Blessings to you,


SLB said...

Thanks, very timely, i really need to control my voice,and tame my tongue. I also feel so exhausted after this kind of confrontation with my kids and regrets, regrets, lots of it later.

Jen said...

Really good. Really hard! I find myself using the TVC's for level 3 all the way up at level 1! augh! love the encouragement though! I have 9 sweet ones from hard places (and 1 bio whose hard place is the fact that he has 9 traumatized sibs! lol!). sometimes just the incessant level 1 stuff from 10 at one time is enough to amp up my TVC's well beyond where they need to be!