A snappy way to keep your cool

Mon, 5th Jun 2017
PREVIEW

Sami Muirhead says calm voices are the way to go when dealing with kids, but if you find that difficult, try the hairband trick.

What do you think of your child’s teacher? Because I have my six-year-old girl’s teacher on somewhat of a pedestal and think she may be part Jedi because she seems to be able to control an entire classroom of tiny people without ever raising her voice.  

I stand and watch transfixed most mornings as the ritual of the day unfolds. Mrs B waves her fingers when she wants the classroom’s attention. Yes. Waves her fingers in the air, her 10 digits wriggling like caterpillars as they send out silent messages to gag the children.  

The students seem to respond within seconds, quietly waving their fingers back at her in their secret communication that no one else really understands. It is like some wonderful whirling dervish dance and I am transfixed and bemused by it all. 

Let me tell you, if I waved my fingers at home I would be totally ignored. I know this because when I shout like a fishmonger’s wife, I am totally ignored. When I demand they listen to me, I am totally ignored. When my head starts spinning around on my neck as if I am possessed by the devil I am still ignored.  

The only way to get their attention some days is to threaten to turn off the TV.  Then I become somebody.  

So why is Mrs B so good at getting their attention? I do not have a witty or intelligent answer for you, but I do know the best teaching and parenting for all parties seems to be done in calm voices. Somehow these soothing voices seem to have real authority and children understand they would be better messing with Voldemort himself rather than taking on the composed leader. 

Robert Brault once said: “A child seldom needs a good talking to as a good listening to.” Sounds good in theory, but when you are tired and know you still have a trillion things to get done, it is sometimes hard not to shout like a crazy person and in the process have absolutely no grace or self-control.  

A mum in the United States is making news because of her new ‘hairband trick’, which has stopped her snapping at her kids.  The trick involves placing five hairbands around your wrist, which you move to your other arm if you snap at your child. You can earn hairbands back by engaging in fun ways reconnect with your child, such as playing with them or giving them a hug.  

The research shows you train yourself to talk with kindness and love in your voice to your child instead of anger and frustration, even when they are being really annoying. No one likes yelling. I feel rubbish if I have raised my voice at my kid and I am sure they do not feel like world beaters either. 

So maybe the hair elastic system is worth a try.  The only problem will be of course finding five bands. Ours all seem to be on holidays with odd socks, the Tupperware containers and the missing four umbrellas of the house. 

Sami Muirhead is a radio announcer, blogger and commentator. For more from Sami tune into Mix FM.