Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monster Voice

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Daniel has difficulty with sensory processing. We've been working through this since he was about five months old (he was the youngest child our Occupational Therapist had ever seen with these kinds of sensory symptoms). I take him to OT and Jaymz and I do many things at home to help him regulate his nervous system. A lot of those therapeutic activities are part of our daily playtime routines, including ball time and various other fun things.

Still, Daniel has trouble calming and regulating himself. He tends to spend a lot of the day vocalizing his frustrations with life through screaming, crying, yelling, screeching...whatever you'd like to call it, it certainly is LOUD. After hours of this every day, I get to feeling mighty cranky and impatient myself. Some of my least proud parenting moments have been as a result of the constant sound (perhaps due to my own sensory sensitivities). Sometimes I can tune out his sounds, but other times, I just can't. And there are times when it's helpful to have a tactic to help him quiet down so that we all can cope better, enjoy a meal together, or just try and avoid hearing damage!

Enter: The Monster Voice!

This is a sound Daniel started making one day that Jaymz and I thought was hilarious (and adorable). He's continued to do it for several months now, and we coined it "the monster voice" since it sounds (to us) like how someone might change her voice while pretending to be a monster.

When Daniel is vocalizing his emotions and it starts to wear on me, I start doing the monster voice to Daniel. He, in turn, does it back to me (usually), and it turns a once difficult and stressful situation into a playful exchange between us.

I've even noticed that sometimes when Daniel is upset, he switches back and forth between yelling and doing the monster voice. It's as if this has morphed from a tactic to turn down the volume in the room for a moment into an effective coping mechanism for him: He's still able to voice his frustrations, while keeping the sound level a tad lower, and the energy in the room a little bit calmer.

I'm extremely grateful that we've stumbled upon this playful strategy for the loud times. It's such a simple solution that can make a huge difference in a tough moment! I know I'll continue to try introducing silliness with Daniel when things get rough.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon September 13 with all the carnival links.)
  • On being a more playful parent — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how the Playful Parenting book impacted her.
  • Parenting a toddler through play — Alicia at I Found My Feet lists some examples of how she uses play to parent through everyday tasks and challenges.
  • Splashing in Puddles — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how she learned to get dirty and have fun with her little boy.
  • Say Please — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life explains how they taught their son manners by "play," showing that actions speak louder than words.
  • No Nanny Needed — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life wishes parenting through play was her only responsibility during the day.
  • I'll Run Away With Gypsies — Nikalee at Spotted Pandemonium maneuvers physical and emotional obstacles while spinning playful tales, jumping through hoops, and inspiring the kids to clean the living room.
  • A Promise To My Daughter — Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure writes a poem for her daughter promising to use play instead of anger when facing difficult situations.
  • Parenting Through Play — Not Always Easy But Always Rewarding — Amy at Peace4Parents discusses how play hasn't always come easily to her, the power of appreciative observation, and how her family learns together through play.
  • Imagination Plays a Role in Our Parenting — Tree at Mom Grooves shares how parents can use play to set the foundation for communication and understanding.
  • A Box of Crayons — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction talks about how a simple box of crayons has become a wonderful parenting and teaching tool.
  • The Essential Art of Play — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her favorite lessons available for young ones through play.
  • The Art of Distraction — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a list of distracting alternatives to harsh punishments in tough parenting situations.
  • Grace and Courtesy Games at Home or School — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has ideas for grace and courtesy games that help you encourage courteous behavior without reprimanding your child.
  • I am woman, hear me roar! — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares how one simple sound can diffuse an argument in an instant.
  • Getting Cooperation Through Play — Amyables at Toddler In Tow talks about respecting the worldview of a preschooler by using play to encourage connection and cooperation.
  • Playful Parenting = Extra Energy??Momma Jorje didn't think she had the energy for playful parenting. See what she was surprised to learn…
  • Dance Party Parenting — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen learned how to be the parent her children need through play.
  • Wrestling Saved My Life — Wrestling is as vital to her son's well-being as babywearing once was, finds Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • Parenting through play — By playing with her children, Tara from MUMmedia is given amazing opportunites to teach, train and equip her children for life.
  • Parenting Through Play Starts in Infancy — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Issa from LoveLiveGrow shares that though she only has a 3-month-old, playful parenting has already started.
  • Play Before Sleep — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how playing and singing with her son before he falls asleep helps calm her frustrations that tend to arise at night.


  1. How can the energy in the room possibly be calmer if it sounds like MooooOOOONNNSTTTEERRRRSsssss????

  2. I should've been more clear, but this video is from May 1st (the first day he did the voice). @Uncle Kevin: Since it was the first day, we didn't know to be intense about it. We've learned our lesson! =)

  3. Another mama of a child with sensory issues here, although SchmoopyBoy's challendges sound a lot more mild than what you are facing. For us, we need to find more intense physically stimulating play to help him calm down. Things like walking like a wheelbarrow (when I hold his feet up and he walks on his hands) or having him do somersaults on the mattress over and over and then turning that into a game of pounce or steamroller are some of our go-to playful activities for helping him release his need for heavy sensory stimulation. Thank goodness for playful responses to frustrating situations! They make everyone feel better!

  4. What a wonderful solution to the noise problem! I love it when a spur-of-the-moment reaction leads to a positive end. Not only have you managed to help your noise overload (I have the same problem), but you've given him an effective way to express his feelings without creating a stressed-out mommy! I'll bet that, as he learns to talk more, he'll start using that voice when he's frustrated, angry, or upset! WTG, Momma!

  5. Oh that's too cute; I love how your little man is using the monster voice himself now combined with the yelling; sounds like he's a fast learner ;)

  6. I love the monster voice!!! My daughter had one similar when she was that age. What a gift it's turned out to be for you. Yeah for monsters! I can understand how the loud can wear you down. You're a strong and wise mommy. You and your husband are going to give Daniel all the tools he needs to thrive in this world. That makes me just about well up. I can feel the love in your family from here.

  7. Aww @teresa, thank you!

    You all are so very sweet. We're having a very tough few weeks (sensory-wise) and everyone's support & encouragement doesn't go unnoticed. I really appreciate it! <3

  8. I need to try this one with my preschooler ;) I think we have some of the same issues (right now I'm talking about *my* sensory issues) - noise really gets to me, I'll have to remember and use this the next time the volume gets close to unbearable. TY!!

  9. I'm going to give this one a shot with my toddler. I also get pretty unnerved by noise stimulation. I think my son and I are both "sensitive" people so we appreciate the new skill. Thanks!

  10. Too cute!! Great solution and soo much fun!

  11. that's a really sweet idea to turn something excruciating into play. I don't know if he likes to sing, but sometimes singing a song with the tones he is vocalizing helps me and my daughter... not every time, sometimes it just pisses her off

  12. Awesome idea!!! I have to admit though, my favourite part about this post is the banana pyjama pants..... =D
    I still read your blog all the time but don't comment b/c it comes in the NPN blogroll email. I'm still a faithful reader though! xo

  13. p.s. I also linked you on my latest post; it comes in the NPN blogroll tomorrow and then I will post it on Mothers of Change sometime soon (still editing) so your blog will be linked there too. Just FYI! =)

  14. That is so cool. I love how you recognized something Daniel does that you could turn into a playful tension-buster for both of you. I think I'm going to give that a shot with Mikko when the noise level gets too loud. It's gotta be better than repeatedly reminding him to dial it down, right? And especially if we're both feeling stressed, I could see it helping with that for us as well. Thanks for passing this along!

    P.S. I love videos of dads in hilarious PJs. It's a trend, I think. ;)

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