Saying “Quiet!” without Yelling “QUIET!”

Dear Orange Rhinos,

As to be expected, I am always looking for new alternatives to yelling. Always. And then I received this email from Orange Rhino Shannon and I fell in love with the alternative. You see, my boys are all in to “top secret codes.” My oldest son has a top secret word he says to me when he just needs space and doesn’t know how to cope. Needless to say, after two long days at camp he has been saying “Darth Vader!” a lot! And all my boys obviously say “Orange Rhino!” to me when I am close to yelling and can’t cope! Secret words work great in our house, truly. They help us to communicate and help each other all while having a little fun too. But sometimes, they are said a little too loudly and all the screaming gets to me. Sometimes, I need an alternative that is fun but also calming and quieting.

Enter Shannon. Check our her blogpost below that she originally shared on her own blog.  Make sure to read all the way to the end. There is a surprise at the end that I just love that she made for all of us after I asked! Thanks Shannon for sharing!

* * * * *

I, like all mothers, am not perfect.  I sometimes let my toddler skip her veggies at dinner, she eats more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than I would like, and when I am tired, frustrated, running late…I have a tendency to yell.

In the back of my mind I know I am yelling because of my issues, not my toddlers, but I raise my voice anyway.  This usually just ends up causing my daughter to cry, not do what I wanted anyway and me feeling bad for raising my voice at her.  Not once has my yelling got my toddler to put on her shoes, stop playing with her food,  or whatever it was that moment that I found so offensive.  That realization (with the help of theOrange Rhino) led me to reevaluate my parenting.

In her blog, the Orange Rhino gives many ideas on how to stop yelling and communicate better, and I loved a lot of them and have even started yelling at my toilet when I have had enough at her suggestion LOL.  It was reading the list of suggestions, that I had the AHA moment, that I already had the tools needed to yell less and love more.

When my daughter, or life pushes my buttons, I turn off my voice and turn on my hands (and no that doesn’t mean I spank her lol). My using sign language to communicate during tense moments does multiple positive things.  Since I am no longer using my voice, my daughter must turn and look at me, she can’t ignore me as easily.  She has to focus on my hands, so this usually diffuses a tantrum, and even if she is in the middle of a tantrum, she can still be understood through sign.  I know I can never understand what a toddler is trying to say through screams or sobs.

Because I am yelling less, my daughter is yelling less.

I am modeling good behavior on how to properly deal with anger and frustration.  Hopefully she grows up to learn to communicate through feelings and not yell or hit or even worse, bottle them up.  When something upsets her, she now comes up to me and signs “I angry!”  This opens up a dialogue for us that can continue in either english or ASL (which ever she chooses to go with), and we communicate through what her feelings are and why she is feeling them.

Thanks to Sign Language and the Orange Rhino I am learning to become a calmer and quieter mother, and I am seeing a calmer and quieter toddler.

* * * * *

Given our top secret behavior at home, I immediately asked Shannon a few signs to use to complement our family secret codes. I knew my little “spies” would eat ’em up. I must admit – people have suggested to me before to use sign language with my son with a speech delay. I am not sure why I was hesitant about the idea and ignored the suggestion, but I did. I am so glad that NOW I am not ignoring the idea but using it. When my sons scream at me, I respond “quiet” with my hands and not my mouth.

I had been trying for months to not engaged engage in a conversation with them until they have spoken to me in a quiet voice. Before Shannon’s video (which by the way, she made all on her own for us, woot!) I would talk to them and get more and more frustrated telling them to use a nice voice. “Please talk to me nicely.” “#2, I asked you to talk to me nicely.” “#2 use your quiet voice. PLEASE.” Oh, hearing myself repeat myself drove me bonkers. Okay, it still does on some days. But now, now that communicate silently and I don’t hear the broken record, I maintain calm much easier.

It is working beautifully.


You learn something new every day, don’t you? And for the record, how cool is “Orange Rhino” in sign language? As Shannon first started to do It, I actually immediately thought of the “Peace” sign. I don’t know why, just did. Coincidence? I think not!

Yelling Less, Loving More is PeaceFULL.

To find Shannon’s original post, go here:

To see another video full of some of my other alternatives, click here:

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14 thoughts on “Saying “Quiet!” without Yelling “QUIET!”

  1. I was really excited to try this out. I have a huge interest in sign language. When you’re able, to, please put the video back up.
    Thank you for your blogs. I tear up almost every time I read one and it’s helping. Lots of yelling this past weekend and I feel horrible, but I can do this and I’m learning.

  2. This is great! I am going to start to use the signs! I use to teach all my babies signs and it was well received. I wish I never would have stopped! I love this and NEED it more than these words that appear can convey.

  3. Definitely will be using this! We are a loud family. We need to tone it down. Sign language will help us all! 🙂

  4. a great reminder! Our camp counselors one year used a little “silent coyote” sign that looked just like the dog you would make for a shadow puppet. That was 5 years ago and we still say it and occasionally use it. My preschool teachers also use a silent signal… two thumbs up… it means thumbs up and mouths shut! The kids put their thumbs up when they are listening.

  5. Awesome!! My daughter loves to use the sign language that she know this is just what I need. Thank you Shannon and Orange Rhino.

  6. I was a Signing Time instructor for a little while and hope to go back someday. I love ASL and am trying to teach myself to be fluent. And yet, when I yell…I haven’t realized to use all that I already know!!!! Definitely incorporating this…starting today! 🙂

  7. Beautiful idea! I am trying this out for sure. My now 4yr old used to do baby sign when she was younger, it was awsome, we enjoyed it so much but stopped when speech took over. Might have to do lessons again!

  8. This was fantastic!!! I used to do special signals with my students all the time! Why on earth didn’t I think of doing it with my kids?! Thanks to you both for sharing your ideas to help me stay on track!

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