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Do you have a mum voice?


Do you remember growing up and most of our parents called us to order very sternly so much so that even in their absence, we could hear the voice in our heads cautioning us, when we were about to do something naughty.

That’s what the mum voice is. It is that voice you use when your child doesn’t seem to understand what you’re saying, so you change your tone and facial expression into one that elicits immediate obedience.

According to the Founder Olive Tree and parenting enthusiast, Mrs. Tinuke Atilade: “More often than not, especially in our generation and with the focus on positive parenting, we may have told ourselves that we wouldn’t spank or use the mum voice on our kids. However, the mum voice is a very effective tool when the children are not listening and a very good alternative to spanking.


“Nonetheless, parents need to try not to abuse use of the mum voice so that children either don’t start to misunderstand it or take it for granted. We also need to pay attention to what we are saying and how we are saying it ensuring we do not use any abusive words as this can cause psychological damage on the long run.

“It is also important to note that the mum voice is not always an angry voice. It is simply a change in tone of your regular voice. Children perceive shouting as a threat to their security and confidence, which can eventually result in fear, stress, behavioural problems and even academic problems. So we need to try not to shout at them when we are upset.”

She stressed that parents should, however, not be too hard on themselves if they shout at their children every now and then, as being a parent is the most challenging role in life. It’s an even bigger challenge trying to be a good parent.Apologising to our kids when we know we have over-reacted or explaining the situation to them in a calm manner later on can make all the difference. It is also possible that calling our children out whenever they have done something wrong will help them develop in such a way that they can cope effectively with difficult situations as they grow up.


“Effective ways of using the mum voice include letting your children know what you expect of them, giving them warnings if they do not comply, telling them what to do as opposed to what not to do and acknowledging when they actually do it or the consequences of disobeying.

“On the average, most parents tend to use the mum voice everyday especially when the children are at that developmental stage. Some of the advantages of the mum voice include the fact that it limits the tendency to spank our kids because they can tell you are serious and would very likely do what they are supposed to do once they hear the voice. From experience, the mum voice can improve relationship with the child because then they know when the parent is upset and then either try to comfort mum or do what they were supposed to do that made mum upset in the first place. It makes them more intuitive.”

Mrs. Atilade added that research has shown that it takes a child less than one second to recognise their mother’s voice. They found that the response goes even beyond the auditory areas of the brain, but also parts related to emotion, reward processing and social functioning. Unlike when they hear a stranger’s voice that only the auditory parts respond. So apart from using the voice to call the children to order, hearing a mother’s voice can also be an important source of emotional comfort to children. This is why it is imperative that we do not abuse it.

In this article:
ParentingTinuke Atilade
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