Grace And Courtesy
Everybody wants a well behaved toddler. And, as any mom of a toddler knows, Toddlers are not well equipped for behaving! For one, they have short attention spans. Two, their vocabulary is limited. Communication is hard for them even when they are not upset. So when the tough feelings hit (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired), and the communication centers of the brain shut down, the result is an uncontrollable storm of emotion!
A lot of parenting books mention that you can’t teach a child while they are upset. While that is a useful fact to know, I am always frustrating by the lack of suggestions on how to teach the child how to calm down and communicate when they are not upset. (What is your biggest pet peeve about parenting books? Let me know in the comments).
So this week I am going to list some of the successful ways I have taught some useful skills to my toddler, Little Fox.
Toddlers love to be loud. Perhaps there is some deep reason behind it, like a need to be heard or something. But whatever it is, all the loud noises are too much for me. So “using your inside voice” is a priority grace and courtesy skill in our household. I taught Little Fox about inside voices around the time she turned two. And while she still forgets about using her inside voice sometimes, she does get the concept. And she is especially good at remembering to use her inside voice or whispering voice while the Baby is napping. She even reminds the Badger Dad to whisper if he comes home while the baby is asleep.
Here is a script for how I taught Little Fox about inside voices.
Bold text indicates to say the words said loudly
Regular text indicates to say the words at normal volume
Italics text indicates whispering
The Three Voices
Mama: Hey Little Fox, I have something to tell you
Little Fox: Mama!
Mama: God gave us three voices. A really quiet voice, a regular voice, and a really loud voice. Let’s try them out together. First let’s do the really quiet voice.
Little Fox: Kay!
Mama: Let’s say “puppy puppy puppy” in our really quiet voice.
Little Fox and Mama: Puppy puppy puppy puppy
Mama: That was great! Now let’s say puppy together in our regular voice
Little Fox and Mama: Puppy puppy puppy
Mama: Good! And now let’s try saying puppy together in our loud voice
Little Fox and Mama: Puppy puppy puppy!
Mama: Good job! Thank you for listening Little Fox. Now, God gave us three voices for a reason. God gave us our whispering voice for when people are sleeping. God also gave us an inside voice and an outside voice. Do you think our regular voice or our loud voice is good for outside.
Little Fox: Loud voice!
Mama: Yes! Our loud voice is our outside voice. Now God also gave us a voice to use inside. Do you think our regular voice or our loud voice is good for inside.
If Child Answers Right
Little Fox: Regular voice!
Mama: Right again! Our regular voice is called our inside voice. God gave us our inside voice to use when we are inside. And God gave us our outside voice to use when we are outside.
If Child Answers Wrong
Mama: God gave us our loud voice to use outside. And that is why we call it our outside voice. But right now we are not outside, so I am not speaking in my outside voice. I am using my inside voice. Can you use your inside voice to say “inside voice” with me now? Inside voice inside
Little Fox and Mama: voice inside voice
Mama: Yes. God gave us our inside voice to use inside. So remember, when we are inside, we use our inside voice. And when we our outside, we use our outside voice. And finally, when the baby is sleeping, we use our whispering voice.
Little Fox: Kay Mama!
Walking carefully is a skill that helps in so many areas. It helps a toddler practice balance. It helps with carrying objects (such as cups of water without spilling). And finally, it helps children not bump into others while going from one place to another.
We bought some gaffer tape off amazon for this activity. Well, actually we bought the tape to secure cords to the wall and floor to prevent trip hazards. But I also had this activity in mind. Depending on your floors, you could also use painter tape or another kind of tape. I would just recommend making sure whatever you use isn’t going to harm your floor. You could always use chalk on a driveway or something if you are not sure.
The Walking Circle
First, I made a tape circle on the floor with the gaffer tape. It is helpful to have the tape be at least one inch thick. This helps the child concentrate on walking and balancing more than on trying to see. Next, I made sure there was lots of space around the circle by moving any objects or furniture that was within 2 feet of the circle. Third, I brought Little Fox to the circle and explained we were going to play a game called “Walking the Best” or “Champion Walking.” Then, I explained that it is important to be able to walk carefully because it means we are respecting others, taking care of our belongings, and taking care of ourselves. Finally, I demonstrating walking carefully on the line in a circle, and invited her to join in when she was ready.
After Little Fox is good at walking carefully in a circle, we will level up the activity. First Little Fox will practice walking on the circle while carrying a day. Then Little Fox can practice walking on the circle while carrying a cup or small pitcher of water.
Recently, the Badger Dad and I have been having trouble with Little Fox interrupting our conversations. So we are starting lessons on interrupting.
We call our current strategy “The Waiting Hand.”
This is what Little Fox is supposed to do if she has something to say and someone else is talking. First, she walks over to the person she wants to talk to. Second, she puts her “waiting hand” on that person’s knee, arm, or shoulder. Third, we put our hand over hers to show we know she is there and that she wants to say something. And finally, we look at her and say “Thank you for waiting. What is it you want to say right now?”
This is a new thing for Little Fox. So right now we are only making her wait a few seconds at a time. As she gets better at using her waiting hand we will make her wait longer at a time.
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