Yep. I am pretty sure this is what I look like when I start to yell — like King Kong. Oh my. This is scary.
I don’t always yell — sometimes, I approach misbehavior and non-listening with calmness — but not usually. And, when it comes to one of my children exemplifying any type of aggressive behavior towards anyone, including the only usual suspects, their siblings, I get loud. I just react. I don’t think. I just scream at them. And, do you now how often my screaming results in the behavior I am seeking to see? Yep, you are right — never. And why would it?
Nobody likes to be screamed at. Nobody should be screamed at. But, I cannot control my yelling and because of that, today, I admit…I am a yeller and I need help.
I am well aware of the old adages that “you catch more bees with honey,” and that “when you yell, people stop listening”. So why do I have such a hard time implementing non-yelling behavior into my parenting repertoire? There is tons of expert opinions out there on how to stop this yelling behavior. Some I have found helpful and some I have found unrealistic.
“10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling At My Kids,” a post by The Orange Rhino on HuffPost, pointed out to me something poignant — “often times, I [the parent] am the problem, not them”. The Orange Rhino article contends that, often times, we yell because of other stressors, because we are overwhelmed by our to-do lists, because we are tired or because it is that time of the month, but “not because the kids were behaving ‘badly’. The article encourages us, parents, to figure out and acknowledge what our personal triggers are and to say them out loud: “Nicole, you are hangry, you aren’t mad at the kids, don’t yell”. I am going to try this today.
Author, Laura Markham, PhD, of “10 Steps to Stop Yelling”, an article published by Psychology Today, tells us to “stop gathering kindling”. What does she mean by this? She contends that when we, the parents, are having a bad day “those resentments start to pile up”. She goes on to state that “once you have enough kindling, a firestorm is inevitable” and that “instead, stop, take responsibility for your own mood, give yourself what you need to feel better, and shift yourself to a happier place”. I have never thought of myself as a fire-starter, but now I realize that I am one. How sad.
More advice from Markham is to “offer empathy when your child expresses emotion — any emotion”. This is kind of common-sense as a parent, but I cannot tell you how many times I meet my children’s emotions with anything other than empathy. How unfortunate it that — for them and for me. Markham goes on to share that if we meet our child’s emotions with empathy, the child will “start to accept her own feelings, which is the first step in learning to manage them”. She goes on to state that “once children can manage their emotions, they can manage their behavior. Feeling understood also keeps kids from going off the deep end with their upsets so often”. Less upsets for them equals more listening by them which equals fewer opportunities for Mommy to get caught up in yelling. I need to work on my empathy, as was previously stated in I Am The Mom Who Lost Her Empathy.
Some good advice from Sumitha Bhandarkar, in her article on A Fine Parent, titled “How to Keep Yourself From Yelling at Your Kids Even When You are Hopping Mad,” is to let your child know that you are angry and to set a time limit to end all hostilities. She contends that the key is to “establish a line of communication, noting that “instead of just snapping…take a deep breath and tell her “Mommy is getting really mad now, Sweetie”. Bhandarkar also makes the point that “the scariest thing about getting mad is that there is no clear boundary to when things will settle back to normal again” and she has “found that intentionally setting that boundary helps a lot to get the situation under control”. An example of this is informing your child that you are very upset right now, but that you are going to go unload the dishes and then come back and talk to them. I think this sounds easy enough, right?
The sad truth is that I will probably never stop yelling completely. As much as I would love to, I have a feeling that once a yeller, always a yeller — at least a little bit. I do think that I can improve how I communicate and express my frustration and it is definitely my plan to try harder to not look like King Kong on a daily basis… because, for real, who wants to live with King Kong? Surely not my kids, nor my husband.