05 January 2012

loud, Loud, LOUD. QUIET, Quiet, quiet.

Sometimes my kids bring out the worst in me.  I have wanted to shout, scream, pull my hair, lock myself in the bathroom, call my husband to come home early because I just can't make it.  The list goes on.

When my children yell or scream in anger or frustration, I know they have lost control of their emotions.  I know that only time will lead to recovery, and I know to not take it personally.  For a 2 or 3 year old, too much is JUST TOO MUCH!  If I were to yell or scream, especially if my boys were at a high energy level (giggling or crying), they do not know I have lost control, and that I will be able to calm down with patience on their part.  They do not know that it isn't personal.  What they do know is, "Mama, who usually loves me more than anyone else in the world, is mad and yelling at ME."

I discovered a great truth while apologizing to Jason after I yelled at him, recently.

It is not normal for me to yell, and as soon as I had taken a breath, I realized I had lost control.  So I apologized.  When I tried to explain why I was yelling, I told him, "When someone is yelling or screaming, anyone, it is because she or he has a problem to work out.  It has very little to do with the person being yelled at."  This is just as true of a 30 year old as a 3 year old.  When we yell, we have already lost control.  It will take patience, time, and love to recover.

How do we get attention when we need it?  If you are working with a screaming toddler, it seems at first to be our only choice.  It isn't. I wish I could remember where I learned the single best, shortest parenting tip I have ever encountered.  It takes practice, awareness, and self discipline, all qualities you would like to see in your kids.  Here goes:
When you want to yell, whisper.

When have I ever respected someone who is yelling at me?  Never.  Not once.  When have I most understood my responsibility of a serious issue?  When someone has lowered her voice, taken control of his emotions, and communicated with me.

While you may think this would never work with your children, try it.  If you don't yell often, it is another great tool to have in your belt.  If they are accustomed to yelling, you will at least have the element of surprise.  Discipline yourself before you discipline your children.  They learn more from what you do than from what you say.


  1. Dear Willful: If this method of whispering works for you, then awesome! I think when I whisper when angry , it still sounds like yelling. It's something I have done with rmy husband when I have been angry with him. I know he's whispered at me before and I've said "stop yelling at me!" In a whisper -yell. Which put an end to the argument because it was funny. I don't so much find myself yelling at my kids, but frustrated at times (mostly with my older kid) and having to nag him a bunch to get things done. It's a drag. I've been trying to find creative ways to get him to do things, like his teeth talk to him sometimes and tell him they need to be brushed. Or the chair talks to him and tells him it's cold and he needs to keep sitting on it to keep it warm. I bet whispering would be a clever way of passing on a secret. "Shhhh. I have a secret. Mommy is going to lose her marbles if you do that one more time. " Or maybe that secret really best be kept genuinely secret. But I bet a kid's ears would really perk up for whatever the secret may be. Then there's times I think I should borrow my son's megaphone so he can hear me over his own noise. Oh he can make noise. Or exuberance they call it. Whatever it is, it's loud.

  2. Dear Willful,
    I like your approach and appreciate your candid experience. It's comforting to hear the reality of how challenging parenting can be and ways to navigate through it. I think I'll try whispering - I never have whispered like that before but then again, I'm not comfortable with yelling as I've never really been a yeller. I do notice though that my 5 year old seems to naturally soak up my attitude and way of speaking when dealing with things and I often find him speaking exactly like me down to the tones and notes in his voice when frustrated, happy, anxious, excited, etc. so I try as much as possible, for him, to live as an example. I wonder also if all these approaches work temporarily until these kids "figure it out" and then you have to come up with new ideas to accomplish the same goal (i.e. your teeth talk to you- I like that!). I find keeping enthusiasm high in the house and keeping him busy helps but man, it's extremely exhausting!