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A parent’s life is never silent. Let’s face it. Pretty much from the get go, we have a bawling infant, a tiny form in swaddling clothes that demands every ounce of your attention. If you treasure silence and value it above all else, your best bet would be to not have kids. Power of silence? What does that even mean? How can silence be empowering?

Silence? Let’s just kiss that goodbye, shall we?

This doesn’t change much as they grow older. Toddler phases are notorious for bringing out the ‘yelling mom/dad’ in each of us.

Don’t touch that!

Get off that swing now!

Stop throwing things at your sister!

I’m not even going to pretend that I haven’t done it. And this for a kid who has largely kept out of mischief. What can I say? I had a terrible temper. (Confession: I still have one. I just know how to manage it marginally better now).

But over the years, especially after I took up the yelling-less challenge, the concept of communication with a child took on a  more agreeable hue. Softer voices made for a better home. Lesser yelling meant more time talking, laughing, moving forward one step at a time.

As of today, my yell-free counter in my sidebar here on the blog reads ‘737 days’. That’s 737 days straight of not raising my voice. It wasn’t easy. I fell off the wagon, multiple times. But I climbed back on, determined that this wasn’t going to get the better of me.

However, while I had virtually stopped yelling, I still continued to have these emotional arguments with my tween. You could put it down to adolescent angst, of course, but this piece had me thinking otherwise:

Don’t blame genetics for daughter’s sassy demeanour. It’s more nurture than nature.

Kids grow, evolve, blossom when you give them one of the greatest gifts of all: undivided attention. And how do you do that, when you are so desperately trying to drive home a point, not letting them get a word in, edge-wise?

Things came to a head a few days ago when I was passionately imploring her to study for her exams. She tossed her head carelessly and said, ‘I’ll do it soon.’ On the one hand, I had this growing urge to firmly sit her down in a chair and give her a good talking-to. On the other hand, I wanted to throw up my hands in despair and walk out of the room, fuming. As you can tell, both options wouldn’t have worked.

That’s when I stepped back.

I fell silent. As tempting as it was to lecture and get my point heard, I began to look at this from another perspective, difficult as it was to do. I asked myself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ In this case, she’d not do well in her exams if she didn’t study well. Right?

Woman pointing up in seriousness at the tip to get kids to listen

For someone who’s been largely self-driven that can be a very big ‘what-if’. But I had to let go. This wasn’t my life. It was hers. Sure, she’d fall, maybe fail even, but it’s important that I let her learn.

And so, a strange, almost disquieting peace descended upon the home. I stopped telling her to study. Instead, I sat and watched her go about her day, sometimes playing, sometimes singing and occasionally studying. Consciously, I had to fight the urge to say, ‘Stop playing and go study’, multiple times through the day. But I did it and kept myself in check.

At the end of the day, possibly rattled by the complete lack of lecturing from me, she approached me timidly and asked, ‘Is everything okay? You seem very quiet today.’

Looking at her earnest face, I replied, ‘We’ll talk about it in the morning. It’s late and you should sleep.’ Hugging me a bit longer than usual, she drifted off into dreamland.

That night I reflected on how much better I had felt, without having to hover incessantly at her elbow. For all my talk about letting go (that I do often on the blog), I’d fallen prey to the number one mistake that we commit: micro-manage our kids’ lives.

Next morning, the first thing she did after brushing her teeth was corner me and ask, ‘Okay tell me! Why were you quiet? What happened? Did you argue with Appa?’

Partly amused by her insistence and partly touched by her concern, I sat her down by me and said, ‘I realised I was talking too much. When I do that, you tend to tune me out. It’s not your fault, really. If I am always talking, I am not listening either. So, silence was my way of helping myself and helping you too.’

She nodded sagely and waited for me to go on. That’s the first change I noticed. Ordinarily, she’d interrupt me multiple times before I finished a single sentence. Yet, here she was, waiting, even hanging on my words.

‘So, now the ball is in your court. You know you have exams coming up. It’s a fact that hard work will help you. You’re aware that you need to put in the effort. The question is, can you do it without me telling you every ten minutes?’

Eyes shining, she hugged me and replied, ‘You’re right, Amma. I don’t know why I don’t do it. What do you think?’

‘Well, I guess because it’s boring or not as entertaining as a game of basketball with your friends. What if you made it interesting?’

‘Can I do that? I don’t know how. It all seems boring and tiring.’

We then had a detailed discussion on how to make studying and learning more fun. I’ll talk about it in my next post. Perhaps those tips may help a young learner at home.

And just like that, a dialogue had occurred. Coming out of silence, a deep, meaningful conversation had ensued between a mother and her adolescent child. Bonus? They learn that they can tell you anything. And I do mean, anything.

Silence may not be easy to cultivate, especially if you are the kind who loves the sound of your voice. But, the power that it has, in helping bridge the gap between you and your child, is incredible.

Power of Silence: How it can empower you as a parent


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*Featured image: Shutterstock/Woman pointing up by Vladimir Gjorgiev

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Shailaja V

Hi there! I'm Shailaja Vishwanath, a blogger with 12 years of blogging experience and a parent to a teen. I work as a digital marketing and social media consultant. From positive parenting tips to useful productivity hacks, social media advice to blogging advice, you'll find them all right here. Welcome to my blog.


Obsessivemom · September 10, 2017 at 8:30 pm

I cannot even begin to imagine myself in that space Shailaja. You are so very patient. 737 days of no yelling is beyond believable. With exams close by we’re a crazy household. I’m not sure between the two of them if they’d even notice if I’d go quiet.
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    Shailaja · September 10, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Oh I’m not patient. Far from it. I have to work on it everyday. But it helps. And trust me, if you did go quiet, they’d notice. I guarantee it. 🙂

Lakshmi · September 10, 2017 at 11:58 pm

Timely post for me Shailaja. Will see if I can take a leaf from your book.

    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Glad you liked it, Lakshmi. Hope it helps 🙂

Nabanita · September 11, 2017 at 7:25 am

That’s an interesting perspective and one that I have seen work. Why between my parents and myself. Silence indeed is powerful and in every relationship, I suppose. It almost always works. But it’s hard to implement.
Nabanita recently posted…#FeministMondays | Why Do Women Have To Start Over Their Careers From Scratch After A Maternity Break?My Profile

    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 7:46 am

    It’s very very hard to implement. I confess it doesn’t come easily to me either. I just hope that with practice it becomes part of my psyche. One can hope

Shantala · September 11, 2017 at 8:45 am

It seems like we have similar temperaments, though you have reached levels of zen that I can only hope to reach..someday.

But I am working on it, on yelling less, as well as on building a more positive relationship with my son.

And I don’t say this nearly enough, but you and your posts do inspire me to be a better parent every single day.
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    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Levels of Zen are mythical things reserved for the evolved 😉 Me, I am human. I lose my temper, I apologise, I pick up the pieces. We all do.

    Thank you for believing in my posts. That, to me, means so much, no matter how many times I hear it 🙂

Mayuri Nidigallu · September 11, 2017 at 8:46 am

Silence is truly empowering. I learnt that after marriage ;))))))
Your words can be used against you, but not your silence.
Glad it is working for you, Shailaja.

    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Oh don’t get me started on the husband-wife silent treatment, Mayuri. 😉 he he, it’s a process really. But it helps a lot!

Varsh · September 11, 2017 at 8:54 am

Temper and the need for silence, same pinch, Shy. I was an introvert (still am) and having to deal with two kids who obviously haven’t heard of the concept of keeping quiet drives me up the wall! Thankfully, I sometimes take a ‘maun vrat’ (laugh, if you want) and simply stop talking for my sanity.
I have to read this yell-counter post too. Heading right there!

    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Introvert here too. I prefer my me-time and silence is golden. Always! ‘Maun vrat’ makes complete sense. Let them slug it out 😉 They will value you more 😀

The Red Handed · September 11, 2017 at 8:58 am

I agree with all of this. My mother used to constantly ask me to do chores and I wouldn’t do that because I wasn’t affected by this. But my father seldom spoke, but when he did…I rushed to do so!!
Also, I am the closest to my dad. 😀 I know what I said might not have direct nexus to what you wanted to convey, but yeah!! 😀

    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Ha ha, actually it does! That’s Gy to a tee! She worships the ground her dad walks on, irrespective of how hard he is on her. Me, I am the pushover 😉 But it’s a learning curve and I hope I still have time to mend fences and move forward with her on this. Thanks for reading and stopping by, Red. SO glad to have you back!

Rachna · September 11, 2017 at 10:06 am

Oh yes, I’ve used silence very well both with the husband and the children. 🙂 These days, I try not to blow up, just remove myself from the situation and go quiet. That is when the kids know that something is not right. As you’ve mentioned, silence is very powerful. About studies, you already know how difficult G is. His attention span is quite low, but this year I’ve seen him make the effort. I’ve roped in the help of elder brother to help him make a timetable. I do nudge him from time to time to go study, but I am not on his back. I realize that he is only in 5th and frankly slightly low marks will not really matter. I am giving him the time to slowly enjoy the process of studying and learning without worrying too much about exams and portions. This was a nice read, Shy. I realize how we work ourselves up and then transfer our anxiety to the child.
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    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Removing oneself from the situation is my go-to solution for most arguments,online and offline 😉 After I’ve made my point, that is. You’re so blessed to have S to guide G in this. A timetable works wonders! I know G and Gy are actually the same age that way and have similar traits. And you’re right. That’s what we finally decided. Learn to enjoy the subject, whatever it is. Studying will follow.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Rachna 🙂

Sheethal Susan Jacob · September 11, 2017 at 10:41 am

I have done this with my brother when he was in his 12th. He’s 10 years younger to me. He was in his worst teen dramatic phase, where anything and everything makes him back answer and yell. And me who’s not anything less in both made our house a warzone. Then suddenly I stopped talking. I did everything he asked for, took him wherever he said, never even once asked him to study and one week in to this, (took him a week) he asked me, what’s the problem? Why you not bothering about me?

Silence does have a power to change people.

    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Siblings are another thing altogether 😉 They can really drive you up the wall. Oh and 10 years younger! You must have the patience of the Pope! You’re right. Silence works wonders.

Medha · September 11, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Hello Shailaja taking a peek at your blog after a long time and its really a pleasure read your blog on power of SILENCE. I think most Moms ( &wives) do have such Silence Zones in their daily routines and it definitely has its virtues. Thanks for sharing and putting across this thought beautifully.Hope writing keeps you busy with silence by your side and we can read many such posts.

    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Thank you so much, Medha. Writing is my solace and I dearly, dearly love it. Your words mean the world to me 🙂

Rajlakshmi · September 11, 2017 at 1:25 pm

You are totally nailing this parenting thing. I don’t know how a child’s mind work but you always seem to find innovative and wise ways to handle your child. It must really help in creating a wonderful bond between the two of you. ❤
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    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Aww shucks. I can assure you I have my terrible moments as a parent. These moments are wonderful when they happen, but I wish I were always so centred and happy. I’m human 🙂 But it does help in creating a bond 🙂

Modern Gypsy · September 11, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Ive often seen the power of silence at play with the hubby. I’m not a nagger by nature, but I do have my triggers. I used to get after certain things, hammer and tongs. But it’s no use, is it? They just tune us out. Once I adopted silence & patience, he slowly just came around on his own!

Wish your daughter all the best for her exams. 🙂
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    Shailaja · September 11, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    I think I am a nagger, unfortunately. Hard wired into the psyche. Have to make an effort to break out of it! And you’re so right about the tuning out. Sigh, that’s true of any relationship, I guess. When you come from a space of advice instead of empathy, your words go unheeded. Silence and patience has helped my relationship too, tremendously so.

    Thank you for everything, MG 🙂

Soumya · September 12, 2017 at 11:55 am

As important as it is to say the right things, it is also important to know when to keep quiet.

I need to implement the yell free thing soon. I’m still at -8765 now.

Soumya recently posted…#FeministMondays | The Other SideMy Profile

    Shailaja · September 14, 2017 at 6:34 am

    I like your counter a lot Let me know when you’re ready to implement the yell-free thing.I’ll help you out.

Shilpa Garg · September 13, 2017 at 11:22 am

737 yell-free days. Wow! That’s pretty awesome. I liked your experience and learnings from it. It’s challenging to stay silent when you know that something needs to be told/reminded. But silence can speak volumes and can get the other person thinking too.

    Shailaja · September 14, 2017 at 6:32 am

    It’s extremely challenging, especially when you know you’re right . But silence works with any better in some situations, so it’s a handy tool for sure.

Fiona Cambouropoulos · October 11, 2017 at 12:57 am

sometimes silence is the best form of words

Jo - Mother of Teenagers · October 16, 2017 at 1:48 am

What a great post. It is so hard to find the right balance sometimes as a parent. My eldest needed no encouragement with his studies and just got on with it whereas my youngest is easily distracted and needs reminding! However as you say the tipping point is when they learn it is about them, they need to do it for themselves without the nagging. No-one likes to be seen as a failure after all. Silence is golden. #TweensTeensBeyond.

    Shailaja · October 16, 2017 at 5:19 am

    Absolutely, Jo. No amount of nagging or fretting works, I find. Hard to let go but for their own sake, we must do it.

Sharon Parry · October 16, 2017 at 6:01 pm

I’m nor sure if my previous comment loaded Shailaja so I’m trying again! Well done for recognising so quickly that one approach wasn’t working with your tween and trying another more successful one. I will remember the power of silence next time I am shouting! Thanks so much for joining us at #TweensTeensBeyond

Tweens, Teens & Beyond #24 - Mother of Teenagers · October 17, 2017 at 2:06 pm

[…] to give a special shout out this week to Shailaja from Diary of A Doting Mum with her post on the Power of Silence.  I am sure as parents this is one that we will all identify with as Shailaja talks about […]

Tweens, Teens and Beyond Linky #24 - After the playground · October 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

[…] Diary of a Doting Mum which describes how she successfully negotiated some tween behaviour with  The Power of Silence. I loved this post which made me re-think my approach to dealing with my own teens. Please do pop […]

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