Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Raise your words, not your voices

I recently read the quote by Rumi “Raise your words, not your voice… it is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”

What a powerful quote!   We all know that it is important not to yell, especially when interacting with children.  But we also know sometimes that is easier said than done.
This past week, Abe and I were rough housing after I got home from work.  We like to wrestle and play around from time to time.  After we were done, he ran right up to Maggie and hit her square in the back while she was coloring.  Obviously this was not what she wanted as she was just minding her own business and coloring all by herself.  My first reaction was to get mad at Abe, yell at him to not hit his sister, and have him sit out for a bit.  Instead I took a different approach.  I calmly (which was not the easiest thing to do) walked him away from Maggie and had the following conversation:

Me - Abe, please tell me what just happened?
Abe - I hit Maggie.
Me - Do you think Maggie wanted you to hit her?
Abe - No.
Me - Why do you think Maggie did not want you to hit her?
Abe - Because she was coloring.

Me - Exactly.  She was not wrestling with us so she probably did not want to get hit.
Me - Is it nice to hit your sister or your friends?
Abe - No.
Me - When do you think it is okay to hit me or mom or your sister?
Abe - I don’t know.
Me - Would it be okay to hit when we are eating dinner?
Abe - No.
Me - Would it be okay to hit when we are reading books?
Abe - No.
Me - Would it be okay to hit when we are wrestling at home?
Abe - Yes.
Me - So, it sounds like the only time we can hit and be rough is when we are wrestling.  Does that sound like a deal?
Abe - Yes. 
Me - So when can we hit and be rough with mom, dad or Maggie?
Abe - When we are wrestling.
Me - Can we wrestle or hit at school?
Abe - No.
Me - Where can we wrestle?
Abe - At home.
Me - Do you think you can follow those rules to keep everyone safe, including you?
Abe - Yes.
Me - Great!  So just so I know, when can we wrestle?
Abe - When we are at home.
Me - Perfect!  Thanks for talking with me.
Abe - I love you, Dad (he says this often and it just warms my heart)
Me - I love you too, buddy!

This is just a short example of how I raised my words and not my voice.  I raised the expectations of when it is appropriate to wrestle, where it is appropriate to wrestle, and had him repeat this multiple times.  In future days, prior to wrestling, we would rehash this conversation to make sure he understood the when, where and why we can wrestle.  By raising my words and expectations, even when it is difficult when my emotions are getting the best of me, I helped Abe understand why we can only wrestle at home!  In our classrooms, it is so important to raise our words to help the children understand the why.  Are you raising your words when your emotions are running high?  We owe it to our children and ourselves to raise our words and not our voices!