The day my oldest daughter was born, the weight of motherhood set in. I could feel the responsibility of life on my chest, the responsibility to raise her, and the responsibility to nurture her little soul. I suddenly had a future flashing before my eyes where I dreaded the day I would first lose her in public or the day when we would fail to connect emotionally.
Instead of being that frantic mother shrieking her child’s name in the mall as they darted between clothing racks and instead being the momma that yelled at her child to get their attention, I committed in those moments to find a solution to not raise my voice to get my child’s attention and seek a more positive parenting approach. And I did so with a family whistle.
It all started with a sweet, gentle whistle to her while I would be nursing her. It was a way I would try to get those teeny, tiny, sparkling blue eyes to look up at me and connect with me in those moments. I so desperately wanted that time, those memories, and those baby blues to be seared into my memory.
Little did I know, I was planting this tiny musical seed in her that would connect the two of us from near, from far, and in the middle of heated tantrums later in her toddlerhood.
As she grew, I would use the little whistle to get her attention. It didn’t matter how many times I would ask her to show me her eyes or how many times it was demanded that she listen, she didn’t always look.
But nearly every time her little head would snap around immediately when she heard the whistle.
It didn’t hit me that what I had done over time was truly an intentional parenting technique and a piece of parenting gold until one day I was visiting my parents with my oldest (about 20 months at the time) in tow. We went to get lunch and run a few errands. So while my parents went into one store with my daughter, I went into another. When I was finished I went next door. As I was looking for them, I saw them about 30 feet from me.
Instead of yelling to get their attention, I simply whistled my little tune. And without seeing me, I heard her gleefully say “Momma! Where’s Momma! She’s here!”.
And all it took was that subtle little whistle.
Each and every time I can see her whether at home or in public, I whistle the same tune and she’s always right there in no time with her sweet blue eyes looking up at me.
Even my husband turns his head towards me and also uses the whistle in public and I get his attention when I am in another room of the house by using it. And now, with my second child, she too is learning to respond to the whistle.
What you need to know about adopting a family whistle
Choose something memorable & unique
While not everyone is going to have a family whistle, make sure it’s not a cat-call or something of the sort because then it would be confusing in public. And when you’re choosing something memorable make sure that it is something that can at least be somewhat replicated by a toddler. My daughter always voices the noise my whistle makes to get my attention or to find me in public.
Use your family whistle asa way to find each other in public
It’s almost like Marco Polo, just with a whistle. There have been many times my husband and I can’t find each other in public. When the first person spots the other, they whistle the tune to help locate each other.
The family whistle can be used in disciplining moments
Not only does having the whistle help get your child’s attention in a gentle manner to have “a talk” and get them to attentively listen to the situation, but it also has helped me as a parent learn to find a way to calm down for a second and not yell at my child to get her to listen to me.
Using a family whistle can be a great way to lower the energy of your home
I am notorious for yelling. Not even angry yelling, I just have a tendency to feel too inconvenienced to walk to the next room to ask a question. Instead, I have worked towards just using the whistle to garner the attention of my family so that they come to me or so that I can ask the question from another room without yelling first.
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More Intentional Parenting Posts you may love:
Raising Children to Problem Solve
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Teaching Toddler Consequences
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Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 5 children living on a farm in New England. She believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience and has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development. She is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!
I grew up with a family whistle. We only used it in public to find each other; it was never used to get attention in any other way.
It’s a great tool. My husband’s family had something similar and was only used in public. I have found in useful for other purposes though!