As a play therapist, I was always taught to 'match my tone of voice' to the child during our play sessions.
What does that exactly mean?
Basically that if the child is jumping up and down, acting all excited, that we should make our voices sound all excited as well. (And on the flip side, if a child is looking sullen and sad, to speak in a soft, low voice). Sounds like common sense huh? Sometimes it is easier said than done, and it actually took more practice for me while in school to really get down on the child's level. Sometimes I thought I was sounding all excited and silly, and when I replayed my videotaped session, I sounded like Ferris Bueller's Teacher! Bueller, Bueller....
But after a few practice rounds in grad school, I really got 'it'. I have seen over the years how much children love not just me getting excited but also being goofy. It can bring the tears to a smile in seconds.
And now I've realized since I have 'it', maybe I have it too much. I call it, " just being silly." And NO, I am not talking about the silliness that those crazy, overly excited adults that work at Little Gym (no offense, great place but kind of cheesy sometimes).
A few times while I have been using this skill with my daughter in public, I've noticed I've gotten a few strange looks from people around me, including my husband! And it's not the times when I am being empathic with her tears, it's more of the times I am being all excited with her.
I forget that my 'language' in talking to children isn't always the norm. It's just getting down on the child's level and especially at the toddler age, being even more goofy.
For instance, when my little girl is getting her diaper changed and starts whining, I start singing a made up silly song, "you're getting your diaper changed, and it's lots of fun, now mommy is putting a new diaper on....." and her tears turn to giggles. Yep, sounds crazy but it works!!
And in public, I talk to my barely verbal daughter in the grocery store as she gets antsy and tell her to look at all the bright tomatoes in my chipper voice. Yeah, I get a few looks, but it calms her down and brings a smile on her face :)
Our children are going to be young for such a short amount of time, that I love to embrace their youth and be as silly as I can. I don't want to look back and remember me just being a frustrated parent during tantrums, meltdowns or the parent that just said 'no' all the time.