Last year, shortly after my son turned 10, he began making inappropriate noises or just not talking appropriately. Specifically, he was going around making noises like “Uhhhhh,” “Ugh,” “Guh,” “Duhhhh,” (not in sarcastic sense, but just a noise.) It was driving me crazy! Then my two younger sons also began making the noises their brother seemed to enjoy so much. (I realize it was most likely an age thing, but I seriously could not imagine George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or other great men answering a question with, “Uhhhhhh, let’s see.”)
After much thought, I found a discipline for this behavior that seemed to work better than I ever imagined.
I asked myself, “How do I WANT my children to talk? What noises do I want him to make?” I want him to guard his tongue and his words and not just let noises for the sake of making noise come out. There are many places in the Bible that talk about how important it is to watch our talk. Proverbs 21:23 is one of them, stating “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”
I would like for my children to use words wisely, work toward speaking intelligently, and not make verbal exclamations (like “ugh”). I figured perhaps they needed more practice actually using “good language.” So I printed out the Preamble to the Constitution from The Homeschooler’s Book of Lists (list #186) and told my boys that every single time they made an inappropriate noise, they got to read the Preamble aloud to me. Once they read that enough that they had it memorized, we went on to Patrick Henry’s speech that ends “…give me liberty or give me death.” If the noises had continued, we were going to proceed with memorization of all the other really cool documents that they should know anyway.
The funny thing is that the redirection worked so well that after five days of this particular discipline, they completely stopped making the offending noises. If you need a creative discipline idea, you might want to try this one! You might be able to change a behavior and teach your children something in the process. : )