This week started as a quest not to yell at my kids, but it quickly morphed into not yelling, period. And now that I have gone five straight days without yelling (I’m taking a Mulligan on that little lapse the other night), I have to say: wow, what a difference.
It’s not just that I’m not yelling. It’s that I’m not letting anger get to me nearly as much. I’ve consciously decided not to be so quick-tempered, and it’s leading to a better sense of harmony.
Take last night: Chris and the kids were playing video games together, and things were getting tense. Chris was playing and getting irritated at his lack of success; Justin was tired and strung out and anxious about some of the choices Chris was making during the game. Justin would tell his dad to do something and his dad would snap back at him. It was ugly.
Normally, when Chris starts getting snippy with the kids, I start getting snippy with him, wishing he could have more patience and understanding. But this time I found a better way: by ME having more patience and understanding. I took some advice from the Orange Rhino site: I can’t control my kids’ (or anyone else’s) behavior, but I can always control my reaction to that behavior. So I stayed calm, kept a normal tone of voice, talked to them about what was going on…and everybody relaxed a bit.
I know not yelling works. I know because I’ve seen it in my own household. I know because my own mother is a model of patience and understanding who never yelled and yet somehow always got her message across. I know because my older brother never yells at his kids and has immeasurable depths of patience as a father, so much so that it humbles me and makes me want to be a better mom.
I know I can be a better parent by not yelling. And I know I can do it — because I’ve decided to do it.
Ok, there are two things here that I love. The first is that you’re sharing this challenge with your boys. They are going to learn so much from your example and appreciate that they aren’t the only people in the family that spend time working on their behaviours. The second is that you can feel the benefit of this challenge for yourself and it doesn’t have to only be about trying to be a better parent. Not yelling makes you feel calmer and when you feel calmer, you’re a better parent. Everybody wins! Great job with your challenge Crystal. I’m enjoying reading about the whole process.
Thanks for the kind words! I’m slightly stunned by the number of people who have been following along with this challenge, and telling me that they hold try it themselves. And you’re right — having the kids hold me accountable has benefits for all of us.