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Positive Discipline – The Real Reason Why Our Tone of Voice Matters

Positive Discipline – The Real Reason Why Our Tone of Voice Matters

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re looking for:

– Discipline techniques for children
– Discipline ideas for kids
– Positive discipline ideas
– Or… How to discipline your kids without messing them up in the process. (Haha.)

I’m not the kind of person who loves to dish about my short-comings, but I feel like this story is important enough to make myself vulnerable and share this.

My hope is that by sharing my mistake, it will help others.

My positive discipline FAIL

Peaceful parenting is my jam and I felt pretty confident in my ability to maintain self-control…until that one Saturday.

As I cleaned up the supper dishes, my son came over to check out the new groceries his dad had just brought home.

“Oooh, new cookies!” he excitedly proclaimed. My husband brought home some oatmeal raisin cookies. “Can I try one?” he asked.

“Sure thing, buddy,” I said as I helped him open the bag.

He took the cookie out of the bag and took a bite as I kept cleaning.

When I glanced over at him, he had a look on his face. (You know the look…the look you have when you bite into an oatmeal raisin cookie, haha.)

“Mommy, I don’t think I like this cookie,” he said, putting the half-eaten cookie back in the bag. (Gasp.)

My eyes widened.

“Alex!” I exclaimed. “We do not bite off of food and put it back in the bag! That’s not nice! You just put your germs from that cookie into that brand new bag of cookies!”

I didn’t yell, but I did raise my voice. My tone was accusatory.

Mother scolding her little son at home


Germs are my trigger, and I let him have it.

Eyes downcast, my son mumbled under his breath, “Mommy, you think I’m the worst kid ever.”

My Wake-Up Call

In that instant, regret filled my soul and my heart broke into a million pieces.

That lecture I just gave him? He heard none of it.

My voice told him that he shouldn’t put half-eaten food back into the container.

But my tone told him what I really think. That he’s the worst kid ever.

Except….I don’t think he’s the worst kid ever. My son is amazing. He is kind and funny…loving and sweet. He’s a fantastic kid.

I rushed over and scooped him up.

“Honey, I don’t think you’re the worst kid ever. I’m sorry I fussed at you. I was wrong. Buddy, I think you’re a great kid. I didn’t mean to lose my temper.”

Although I apologized to him, the damage had been done.

I’m so glad my son told me how I made him feel that day.

As painful as it was to hear, I needed to hear it. It taught me a valuable lesson.

happy mother holding her little son

The way I spoke to him, it can’t be taken back. I can’t undo it.

But here’s what I can do.

The next time I’m triggered… I can be mindful of the tone of voice I use. I can remember that little voice saying, “You think I’m the worst kid ever.”

And I can use my words to build up and not tear down.

RELATED: From Angry Mom to Calm Mom (In 0.5 seconds!)

Perception is reality: Why Our Tone of Voice Matters

The way we talk to our child becomes their inner voice. - Peggy O'Mara quote

We whole-heartedly love our kids. But do our actions show that?

Do the words we speak communicate that?

Sometimes we treat the worst the people that we love the most.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “perception is reality”?

Basically, it means that what you believe about something is real to you. If your child believes you dislike them, then they’re convinced it’s true.

If they believe you think they’re worthless, that’s reality to them.

When our tone of voice communicates anger, annoyance, or hostility, that’s what is real to our kids.

My son truly thought he was the worst kid ever. So now I’m trying to live each day intentionally speaking to my children in a kind tone.

Reminding them with my words and my actions how important they are to me. How loved they are. That they are wanted and valued.

Do I always get it right? Absolutely not. I’m not the perfect parent. But each day is a new day to try again.


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