Falling Off the Wagon: Day 4 of No Yelling

I was doing pretty well today (three successful non-yelling incidents!) but I had one brief lapse tonight.

First success: I found Brayden waiting outside the door while his brother used the bathroom. With a mischievous grin, Brayden told me he was waiting to scare Justin. I told him not to — three times. So when Justin opened the door, Brayden immediately screamed, “Boo!” But I didn’t yell. I gave Brayden a timeout for doing what I had specifically told him not to do, and then I reminded him that he needs to listen. Well done, Mom.

Second success: Brayden managed to pee on his jeans while using the toilet because he didn’t pull his pants down far enough. I was tempted to yell (I just did laundry today!) but I took a deep breath and told him to get some clean pants. Still OK.

Lapse: On his way out of the bathroom, Brayden was messing around with his pants and not looking where he was going…so he bumped into the stool and fell into me. This was just seconds after the peeing-on-the-pants incident, and I was in a hurry to get supper cleaned up, and I have a stuffy nose that’s making me irritable…so I snapped at him, “Pay attention!”┬áHe whimpered that I’d hurt his feelings. I gave him a hug and said sorry. He pointed out that I wasn’t supposed to yell, and I admitted I blew it. Then he looked at me very seriously and said, “You lost control a little bit there, huh?” It humbled me.

Third success: Brayden was reaching for something on the table when he accidentally knocked over the box of Pokemon cards, which of course scattered all over the floor. This is a recurring issue in our house (see Day 2) but instead of yelling about being careful, I said, “Oopsie. Better pick those up.” And he actually did.

I’m calling the day a success overall. I’m also letting Chris take over until bedtime. Sigh…

See No Evil, Hear No Evil: Day 3 of No Yelling

I haven’t even been tempted to yell at the kids today, but it’s kind of a hollow victory: I hardly saw them. They spent the morning at Grandpa’s, and then I was busy helping with the autism awareness walk, and then Justin went to a hockey game, so there weren’t many opportunities to clash. Who said this parenting thing was tough? Pshaw.

I’ve been mulling over suggestions from others on ways to deal with the kids that involve neither yelling nor repeating myself a dozen times. If they won’t pick up their Pokemon cards, for example, I could threaten to pick them up myself and keep them for the rest of the day. That’s certainly an idea, though I can envision lots more yelling from their end. But it might be short-term pain for long-term gain.

For Justin in particular, I need to develop a more visual way to get his attention. When he gets going on his rants (which these days mostly stem from his aversion to being told what to do), talking to him is useless: he can’t process my words even if he could hear them, which he likely can’t. He learns best through his eyes. Writing things out for him is a good technique, but not always practical. What we really need is some sort of hand signal to let him know it’s time to calm down. Hmm…

A Kinder, Gentler Mom: Day 2 of No Yelling

There’s something cathartic about doing this challenge. Admitting to the world that I’m not a perfect mother was tough — but by getting it out there, on my terms, it removed the fear of someone else pointing it out. Don’t bother judging me; I’ve already decided I need to change.

This morning Justin complained at the top of his lungs about having to get dressed and brush his teeth, about his brother coming into his room uninvited, about his brother having gotten dressed first (never mind that he could’ve been done first if he had just shut up and done it):

“I don’t want to get dressed! I’m not brushing my teeth! What? Brayden’s done? That’s not fair! I hate it when he gets dressed first! Why did my brother get dressed first? That’s so not fair!” And on and on.

Normally when he rants like that I respond first by raising my voice (partly because I doubt he could hear me otherwise, as his shouts are drowning out every other sound), and when that doesn’t work, I yell. It drives me batty that he’s so quick to scream when things bother him (especially when those things seem so inconsequential, at least to me…but I know part of that is his Asperger’s at work). So I usually end up yelling right back. (Where do kids pick this stuff up, right? Argh.)

So today I gritted my teeth, gave him an angry look and calmly explained that he had to get dressed and brush his teeth so he could do his Saturday job (vacuuming his room) and therefore earn his allowance. I don’t think the words meant anything to him, if he even heard them; he responded only to my tone, and since I wasn’t getting overexcited, he eventually calmed down too. Whew.

So in that case, I’d say my trigger was my son’s irrational outburst. Great.

I had another close call when I was trying to get the boys to pick up their Pokemon cards that were scattered all over the floor. After 10 (yes, 10…I counted) polite requests for them to clean up the mess, I finally (calmly, but with an edge in my voice) explained that I wasn’t allowed to yell, but they were making me really angry because they weren’t doing what I was asking them to do. The mess did get cleaned up — eventually.

Would yelling have made them move faster? Unlikely. It would have let me blow off some steam, but there was actually less steam to blow off because I didn’t let myself get all worked up. Plus I didn’t have to waste time trying to comfort upset children.

Did they get the message that I was upset? That’s the question I struggle with. I’ve seen other moms be completely calm in situations where I would’ve lost it, and I’ve sometimes wondered if the kid really understood how angry Mom was. Did they get that they really shouldn’t do that? I dunno.

One of the most effective ways I’ve found to stop myself from yelling is to pretend there’s a hidden camera recording everything I do. Like many people, I act like a more patient, compassionate parent when there are other adult eyes watching me. But why should I save my best behavior for strangers? Why shouldn’t the most important people in my life get the best part of me?

In a way, this experiment is about more than just yelling. Really, it’s about rediscovering the good in each other that we so often take for granted. Not yelling means finding more pleasant ways to communicate. And that’s good for everybody.

The “No Yelling” Challenge: Day 1

My name is Crystal, and I’m a yeller.

There: I said it. Although to be honest, I don’t think it’s as serious as it might sound. There are lots of far more serious bad habits that I don’t have. I’m not a couch potato. I don’t drink. I don’t gamble. And I never swear in front of the kids.

But I do get loud. I do slam things around when I’m angry. And I don’t apologize enough for it.

Confession is good for the soul, right?

We had a quick family meeting this morning wherein I announced that I was going to try not yelling for one full week, and that it would be nice if everyone else could try to do the same. I also told the kids that if they see me starting to lose it, they should say “Orange rhino!” to remind me of my goal. (I know that sounds lame, but it was one of the suggestions on the Orange Rhino site, so I figured it was worth a shot.)

Day 1 has not been too tough so far, but it’s not hard to not yell at the kids when they’re at school most of the day. Justin has had a few “I’m not doing that!” moments of defiance, but I managed to stay calm rather than get snippy, so that was a bonus. I’m supposed to be noting the times that make me want to yell so I can identify my triggers, but it’s been pretty smooth sailing so far.

We’ll see what the weekend brings…

The Orange Rhino Challenge: Can I Learn Not to Yell at My Kids?

button4-tmI know I yell at my kids far more than I should. Our house is full of yellers, actually, which doesn’t make it any easier (I frequently catch myself yelling at the kids to stop yelling…yes, I’m that mom.)

Shockingly, yelling doesn’t seem to work. Which leads to more yelling. Which leads to slammed doors, hurtful words, lots of tears…and a crushing sense of guilt when I think about how I want my kids to remember their childhood. To top it off, I don’t remember my parents yelling at me, and I’m fairly certain that wasn’t because I never did anything wrong. Can’t I learn to be a better mom?

And then yesterday a friend of mine shared a link to the Orange Rhino Challenge. It totally inspired me, so now I’m publicly stating my first goal: starting tomorrow, I will go one full week without yelling at my kids. (The Rhino challenge mom is doing a full year, but I’m not in that league…yet. There’s always hope, right?)

I’ll track my progress (or lack thereof) in this blog as I struggle to become the patient, loving mom I know I can be.

I want to be a mom who has the energy and determination to forge ahead and parent with more composure and warmth and without the yelling!

Stay tuned…