My understanding of this tool card is that when it is necessary to firmly enforce boundaries, there are times when it will be best for the me as the parent to follow through on what I say I will do without a lot of "I told you so"s or lectures or even any commentary at all.
The example on the card is to pull over if the kids fight while I am driving and not continue until they have quieted down. The idea being that I would have explained before starting the trip that I can't drive safely with too much commotion from the back seat and will pull over if necessary.
However, my daughter is an only child for a few more months, so this situation doesn't directly apply to me. I wondered in what other situations Act Without Words would be effective.
So, I looked up some other bloggers' experience with this tool card. On the Positive Discipline blog, there are more examples of how to use it that are age appropriate for my 3.5 year old daughter, such as simply walking over and taking her hand to remove her from something she shouldn't be getting into or doing.
I liked the quote from the parent who tried Acting Without Words for her young son:
“I know actions without words won’t work all the time, but this day sure helped me realize how important it is to at least get close enough to see the white in his eyes before I talk—and then to use more action and fewer words.”
Another blogger expressed some concern about this tool's potential to veer into the silent treatment here. What do you think?
An alternative approach is to use one-word reminders of previous agreements and household rules. The temperament of the child and parent as well as tone of voice and body language used will make all the difference in how this is received. The intent is to make it a kind reminder, not a harsh command or shaming statement from a drill-sergeant.
Putting the Tools Into Practice
I can easily imagine using these tools in my home now. If C kicks off her shoes and leaves them where they fall, I can remind her quickly that they need to be picked up and put in her shoe bucket by using one of these two tools. I could either put my arm around her and guide her back to the shoes and point to them with a smile (Act Without Words), or I could say "Shoes" or "Shoe bucket" (One Word).
In a way, these tools are each shorthand for the Mirror tool card. Instead of saying, "I see shoes that need to go in the shoe bucket," which C has heard umpteen times, I can show faith that she knows what to do and provide a simple visual reminder with silent signals or one word.