Yesterday at the Spring Fair, I enjoyed watching little daredevils riding the mobile zip line. A young man of about 7 or 8 shared my enjoyment, shouting as he walked by, “WOW! That is SO COOL!!”
My smile turned to a frown as I heard him whine, “Ow!” Turning around, I saw his chin clamped in his father’s hand. Through clenched teeth his dad barked, “Didn’t I tell you to stop yelling? Why don’t you listen?” The little guy rubbed his chin and looked at his dad with fearful eyes as they walked away. I wanted to tap Dad on the shoulder and ask, “Can I show you a better way?” Because soon that boy will be 13, and his dad will find that grabbing him will only make things worse.
In my fantasy world, I would advise the dad to stop walking, get down on his son’s level, and agree that yes, it is cool, BUT – yelling about it isn’t okay because he might disturb other people. He could then ask his son to repeat what he’d said, but in a quieter tone. And here’s the important part: a few minutes later, when Junior expressed how excited he was about something else – but in a lower voice – Dad could smile and say, “That’s how you do it!”
Fast forward several years. The son bursts in the door yelling, “I’M STARVING! WHAT IS THERE. . . ” As he catches his dad’s warning eye, he lowers his voice, “. . .to eat?” Without grabbing, yelling, or even speaking a word, the message has been sent and received.
And nobody’s rubbing his chin.