Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Say it without Saying It

Sometimes when I'm finding it difficult to be patient, my voice gives away my frustration. But if I just keep quiet, and try to make my body do the hard work of being kind and patient, it's much more effective.

Take tonight, in the car on the way to Chick fil A. It was the end of a long work day. Flanna and I were on our way to grab a special "girls' night out dinner," and in the car on the way, she decided to chant some shrill song or poem repeatedly. My first instinct was to ask her to please find another quieter way to sing, but then I decided that might sound rude. So, I just reached back and patted her little toe (the best I could reach while driving) and smiled at her in the rearview mirror.

And then she stopped her shrill chant, smiled, and asked if we were there yet.

I bet if I had used words to ask her to quit with the shrillness, I would've been met with some type of resistance. But a small touch goes a long way in communicating sometimes.

A pat on the back encourages.

An arm around the shoulders supports.

A gentle touch on the arm connects.

A hug comforts.

A wink reassures, lightens things up.

A few days ago, I read that regular touch helps preemies gain more weight, helps reduce depression in patients with alzheimers, and increases student verbal participation in class. This video about the many ways that touch increases quality of life was very interesting.

Since then, I've been making a point to pat my students on the back, to wink at my daughter more, to give high 5s to my speech students when they meet a goal, to just communicate acceptance and fun and reassurance to those around me through touch.

And it's really made me happier.

How can you reach out to your family more through touch? Do you feel comfortable giving pats on the back or high 5s to students, and if not, would thumbs ups and grins work?

1 comment:

  1. That reminds me of The Office episode from two weeks ago. Jim was annoyed, and Pam just looked up at him, and he apologized after about one second's worth of eye contact. I thought "wow, no words have a lot of power." I need to learn how to be the strong, silent type instead of the shy silent type. Thin line.