Today marks the end of the challenge I set for myself: one full week with no yelling. It was always an artificial deadline, though. It’s not like I’m going back to yelling on day 8.
I asked the kids what they thought of my performance this week, and they gave me the thumbs-up. I explained that even though the challenge was over, we’re still going to try not to yell, because it’s so much nicer when people don’t shout at each other. Brayden pointed out that yelling hurts his ears and makes him cry; if I needed any extra motivation, that was it.
Things I’ve learned this week:
Clapping works better than yelling. Remember how I was searching for a more visual way to get Justin’s attention? I found it: clapping. Last night at supper the boys were getting louder and louder as they tried to talk over each other. The old me would have screamed at them to be quiet, but this time I did a single clap really hard in front of them. They immediately went quiet. I’ve used this technique a few times this week (one time while they were shouting I just kept clapping until they stopped), and it seems to work. It’s brilliant, not least because the physical act of smashing something together helps me vent some of the want-to-yell energy.
My kids can be my keepers. Admitting my flaws to the world was tough, but admitting them to my boys was a whole different level of hurt. We all try to be omnipotent as parents, but showing my kids that I, too, need to work on my behavior lets them know that it’s not just children that need to change. And by getting them involved in my challenge, by having them keep me accountable, I was extra motivated to reach my goal.
Life is always a work in progress. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. I’m committed to not yelling at the boys anymore, but that doesn’t mean they’ve suddenly become perfect angels, or that I will never have another lapse. But when mistakes happen, we apologize and move on. I need to remember that my kids are still learning how to handle being angry or frustrated — and monkey see, monkey do.
Lots of parents can relate to what I’m doing. I’ve been amazed and gratified to see the following this blog has developed this week. So many people I meet tell me they’ve been reading along, and thinking they should try this challenge themselves. I knew for a long time that I yelled too much, but I never wanted to admit that to anyone else, so I never really committed to change. I was afraid of being judged by smug, self-righteous parents who have always known better than to yell. I had no idea how supportive and encouraging people would be. Many, many thanks to all my loyal readers — you made my task so much easier.