It’s All In The TONE

You know what’s wrong with kids these days?  I know what you’re thinking.  Here she goes again…  Well, it’s my blog, so I’m going to indulge in another soapbox moment.

I can’t get over the tone of voice I hear coming from the kids around me.  Usually the words themselves are not inappropriate.  But the TONE is often downright hateful when they are speaking to their friends and at the very least disrespectful when speaking to their parents and other adults.  I never know quite what to say when The Tone is directed at me or at my child.  And I stand around, my jaw slack with disbelief when I hear The Tone from children directed to their own parents. 

But I am quite sure that this is a hill worth dying on when I hear The Tone from my own kids.  I’ve allowed it to go on for far too long, but now I’m laying down the law.  Husband and I have started talking to our children about their tone of voice, calling their attention to it when it’s disrespectful, and commending them when it is appropriate. 

It’s a rather abstract concept, but when I imitate what I hear and then model a more appropriate tone using the same words, they see what I mean.  Or hear what I mean, rather.  Now all I have to say is, "Watch your tone," and they know what I want.

The other thing I’m learning is that I need to watch MY tone.  *Gasp!*  I know you can’t believe that I ever speak disrespectfully to anyone.  But not only do I find myself speaking rudely to my kids, I also catch myself speaking rudely to my husband.  And don’t think for a second that kids don’t pick up on how you speak to your spouse.  But I get lazy and irritable, and the next thing I know I’m snarking at my husband, and I’m beginning to realize that my kids hear The Tone from me as much as they hear it from their friends.

So let’s all make the world a more pleasant place and start addressing The Tone when we hear it from our children.  AND when we hear it from (gasp!) ourselves.  Who’s with me?

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25 Responses

  1. Oh I am! I find it so upsetting when the end of the day comes and I realize that I’ve spoken more kindly to people I don’t even know–at the check-out, the bank, on the phone, whatever–then to the people that I love the most. Those in my own home. And the kids pick up on it–oh, do they ever. Before I can ban the “tone” from my kids, I need to be sure that it’s banned from me.

  2. The TONE…it creeps into our house via television. I personally think “Sponge Bob” is kind of cute but a one week trial here resulted in a flippant, sarcastic kid. Needless to say, Sponge Bob is GONE. However, DD is now interested in Disney Channel shows and while the shows are, for the most part, pretty clean……the underTONE of some of the shows is ticking my parental meter.

  3. It’s happening at my house this summer for some reason (I’m embarrassed to admit). My oldest is nine and somehow I don’t think I can blame t.v. I think Kims on to something and I need to check myself.

  4. I’ve been noting a lot of this from the Bean lately and trying to correct it. Although I wonder if she’s too young to understand the correction… is “tone” too abstract a concept for someone less than 3? My thinking is that if she’s old enough to USE it, she’s old enough to LOSE it, too. Are you having to address this with R, at all, yet?

  5. I am so with you on this one. We are struggling here and really trying to explain to the kids what it means when you talk to someone in a certain way…I have actually mentioned the hate word…I have also explained what HATE means so they are not confused (the older ones not the younger ones…). I am not sure if this is the best way to handle the situation but I am so lost as to how to handle it…I am game for ANY suggestsion anyone has!

  6. I’m with you sister! I have been working on this too lately because I hear The Tone from A. sometimes and I want to nip that in the bud. You are right about tones around the house too, I’m sure A. hears The Tone from mom and dad often–definitely room for improvement–thanks for the reminder.

  7. I’m with you too. I am also guilty of The Tone. *tucks head in shame*

    I have to constantly keep myself in check, and I try really hard with my kids too.

  8. Hi, I’m Sari and I’m also guilty of The Tone.

    We’re working on it here as well, as a family.

    Thanks for listening.

  9. I think that’s great that you are teaching your children early about how tone can really change the meaning of words.

    I am most guilty of bad tone, especially when I’m tired.

  10. I’m with you! My oldest is 6 and we are hearing that “sassy” tone. 🙂 And, then, I hear it from myself with her – as someone else said- OUCH!

    I say “would you like to rephrase that?” Or “try that again” or “say that without the tone.” I find that making her repeat herself right then helps more than anything else I’ve tried so far.

  11. Amen! My husband and I have discussions about tone all of the time. He’s ex military and it’s hard for him to remember to have a normal or even a loving tone when speaking to me. The tone makes all the difference. I’m so glad that you have decided to address this issue with your children. The tone is just as important as what they are saying. Good post!

  12. I just had this conversation with my 6 year old. He has come home from school the last 2 days so grumpy and has had the worst tone when he speaks to anyone else in the family. I told him that I understand he is adjusting to getting up early, but that he will NOT be allowed to disrupt our family peace. When I mimicked back to him what he had said to me, he said, “Mommy, I didn’t say it like that.” hahaha sometimes I don’t think they even realize it. I had him stop watching Jimmy Neutron because the little girl on there has such a shrewish tone towards everybody. Back to the basics every now and again at our house.


  13. i think it’s adults and kids. kids pick up what adults do 🙁 i’ve noticed the world being a lot more rude and ungrateful.

    Whatever happened to “yes ma’am” and “no thank you”…etc?

    I use these words all of the time, i hold doors open for people, i let people cut in front of me when there is a long line of traffic…i hope i am able to model all of this to my kids.

    i’m with you on tone, too.

  14. I’m with you too! I am always saying, “Watch your tone” and, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” to my son. And oh boy am I so guilty of using the same tone. Shame on me! I’m trying SO hard! But after 35 years, it sure is hard to change! That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up though – I am working on it! And OUCH for sure!

  15. This is a wonder post! I am so guilty of the tone, but I expect my kids to be pleasant all the time. I need to work harder in this area.

    What really gets me is when my children speak to other adults disrespectfully! It doesn’t happen often, but I get really embarrassed.

  16. I agree, and I agree, and I also AGREE with you! My girls don’t use The Tone much with Mommy and Daddy, but they absolutely use it with each other. And I will go ahead and admit that I use The Tone with them, and occasionally with Big Daddy.

    You’re right, it needs to stop, and I appreciate you for putting it out there, to convict those of us who need to nip it.

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