No Response is a Response: Let Them Be Silly

Question

How do we teach our children to stop the constant silly talk/noises? One child is diagnosed with ADHD, autism, etc. I've set up a rule that the first 30 minutes after wakeup and the last 30 minutes before bed need to be "Quiet Hour" - no silly talk or noisemaking. But this isn't honored consistently or without constant reminders. What to do?

Answer

Hello and welcome to Parent Guru. Having had a similar rule in our house and having one child with a similar diagnosis, I can relate to your frustration with getting them to listen. Getting them to respect this rule ultimately requires more changes in your approach as the parents. If the primary goal is that you want 30 minutes of uninterrupted time away from your kids at the beginning and end of each day, then I suggest you focus more on the fact that they are staying in their room than you do on the noises they are making. The more attention you give to the noises and silly talk, i.e., going in and constantly reminding them and telling them not to make said noises, the more they will do them. Ignoring their shenanigans is best.

It’s important to give your kids the opportunity to quietly play, read a book, and self-entertain (without electronics) independently of you. You are not responsible for constantly entertaining them. So let them learn how to entertain themselves, even if it involves a little silly talk or a few noises here and there. It’s harmless in the grand scheme of them following the rule of staying in their room. If they share a room, you can allow them to play with each other during that “quiet time” as long as they stay in their room.

A clock or a timer is all that is needed for them to visually understand when their 30 minutes are up. Your job is to ignore the silly talk and noises and find another space in the house where you can ignore, ignore, ignore. Close their door and yours, go downstairs, turn the tv or radio on, put some earbuds in and listen to a book, take a shower, or whatever else you like to do to relax. You get the idea. If laying in your bed is that preferred place to escape, a little white noise goes a long way in blocking out sound assuming that in an emergency your kids do have a way to reach you. There are plenty of white noise apps that are free.

The bottom line is that if they are following your rule of staying in their rooms and engaging in otherwise harmless noise-making, then let them be silly. You are better off controlling what you hear and your response. No response is a response. Once they learn that you are not coming back in over and over to give them attention you should see a reduction in their shenanigans. Sometimes things can get worse before they get better so if they get louder when you start ignoring them just stay the course with ignoring them. They will learn.

Please reach back out if you need further guidance. You can ask unlimited questions with your Parent Guru membership.

Lisa Woodman
Certified Leadership Parent Coach
coachingbythecup@gmail.com

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