52 FEATS – NUMBER 9 (NOT YELLING!)

7 Mar

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

DAY 7 (Sunday):

A few people have asked me, “Do you have your Feats planned out ahead of time?” Well…yes and no. I do have a list of Feats that I would like to attempt this year. But instead of just randomly picking from the list each week, I try to go with something that I’m really feeling at the time.

That’s why I picked “no yelling” this week. The previous week, I felt like my feelings toward my kids were out of control. I was very short-tempered and took it out on them. Whether it was just a temporary mood or a result of me having too much on my plate, I seriously needed a reality check and an attitude adjustment.

During this week, I constantly found myself focusing on patience to handle even the ugliest parenting situations. And with that so much in my thoughts, I’m happy to report that I was able to keep my emotions from running too hot.

I’ve read lots of parenting books. Most of them agree on a few simple things: keep your cool, offer choices, don’t discipline in anger, don’t lecture, don’t ask why, and always try to point out the good things your kids are doing. I know I’ve broken every single one of those rules, time and time again. When my temper gets out of hand, I know I lecture like crazy, blah blah blah, “Why did you do that??!” to my 3-year-old – as if I expect to get a satisfactory answer!

I realized I’m not going to get an answer to that, nor do I think I actually want one. That’s more of an I’m-mad-and-I-can’t-believe-you-did-that kind of response than an actual learning tool. So I’m learning to just shut up. Not just from yelling, but from over-talking. Yammering on because I’m frustrated is just as pointless as yelling.

With no yelling this week, I also incorporated lots of praise when my kids were being good. I love the feeling – and the reaction – I get from focusing on my kids’ good behavior. It makes all of us feel so successful! I think the three of us really need the boost, so I’m going to make it a point of doing that every chance I get.

I feel better after this week, calmer, more together. Big-time wins all the way around on this one!
DAY 4 (Thursday):

I’ve been doing pretty well with this Feat, but it has uncovered what I think is an even bigger problem for me:  patience.

My lack of patience is the root cause of what makes me yell, roll my eyes, sigh audibly, say stupid things, etc. – all things that I regret later.  It’s not my kids’ behavior that is the problem (most of the time).  It’s just that I’m tired of saying something a thousand times, or tired of correcting the same discipline issue for the millionth time, or just plain tired.

Is that to be expected since I’m home with my kids full-time?  That too much of a good thing makes us all crazy?

I’ve read lots of parenting books – LOTS.  Every now and then, some particular tidbit of advice sticks with me.  I don’t remember the source, but I remember years ago reading somewhere that one of the best things you can say to your kids is: “Take your time.

What a great lesson.  They’re just kids.  They don’t get it yet.  They’re learning every day, every second.  And my job is to teach them the way of the world, and be on their side while I do it.

(Another parenting book tidbit: discipline means “to teach” not “to be irritated with” – just fyi.)

The funny thing is, I think I’m actually much MORE patient now than I’ve ever been in my life.  I guess there are just some moments where it wears thin.  But in my quest to be a better parent, I’m really working on it.

DAY 2 (Tuesday):

OK, so it was better today – or rather, I should say I was better today.

I “elevated” my voice a couple of times when I was trying to be heard, but that felt a little out of place this week.  So at one point, I was trying to talk to my kids, and they were having some sort of fun with each other but would NOT stop to listen to me, so I said very quietly, “I need you both to listen to me.  If you will come over here, I will give you a special prize.”  And what happened?  Nothing!  They didn’t hear me at all!

I kept talking for a while, and finally ended up saying something like, “OK, well I’m sorry that you are both choosing not to get your special prize.  Maybe next time.”  Suddenly their ears perked up.  But I had already said it was too late, so I had to stick to my guns.  Unfortunately, that had a HORRIBLE outcome!  Both kids ended up sobbing violently, saying they were sorry, they would really listen to me, and please please please, what is the special prize?  I felt terrible.  I certainly hadn’t intended to torture them like that!  Like with so many things in motherhood, I learned from my mistake on that one.

I’ve been emailing a friend of mine about this – she struggles with many of the same issues I’m working on with my kids.  Like me, she has a super-sweet older boy and a stubborn younger daughter.  Something she said really made an impact on me.  It was, “Anger has no place in my relationship with my kids.”  Like a mantra, I repeated that until I could feel it taking root in my brain.  I’m so grateful to her for putting that so beautifully.

She said she’s going to start giving herself time-outs, and that she eventually hopes to replace “crazy bitch mom” with “boring lecture mom”!  I’m on board with that!!

DAY 1 (Monday):

Holy crap, this week is going to be tough.

I’m not even kidding, I almost didn’t even make it through breakfast without raising my voice.

Eat your food please.  Eat your food now.  Eat your food NOW NOW NOW!

And then afterwards…

Go get dressed please.  Get dressed now.  Go get your clothes on NOW NOW NOW!

Clearly what this comes down to for me is not a parenting style issue, it’s a patience issue.  I am genuinely worried that I’ve just exhausted my supply – I had 5 ½ years of stay-at-home mom patience in me, and it has simply run out.

I get so cross with my kids, not because they’re doing anything horribly wrong, but because it’s stupid things that I have told them about a million times.  Moms, you know I’m not exaggerating.  A MILLION.

Each time I asked them those kinds of things today, the things that I’m sure I have repeated so often they could repeat verbatim, I could literally – LITERALLY! – feel my blood pressure shoot up and my chest start clenching.  Not kidding.

I didn’t yell today, but I wanted to – SO many times.  I feel like I’m in the “What’s wrong with you?!” stage with my kids.  I haven’t said that to them, but I’m thinking it!  Why can’t they listen to me??

At least I’m recognizing what’s going on.  They’re not trying to hurt the dogs or run down the street naked.  Their transgressions are minor, they’re just wearing on my nerves.  In the grand scheme of things, I know it could be worse.  Hopefully I can fake it till I make it!

ABOUT FEAT NUMBER 9:

My kids are driving me crazy lately.  CRAY-ZEE.  I don’t know what the deal is – something in the air?  The water?  Is it just to be expected because of their age (5 and 3)?  Or could it be my doing – now that I’ve started working part-time from home I know my attentions are worn even thinner than before.  Could that be the problem?

Whatever the reason, they’re constantly doing things that make me mad.  Fighting.  Ignoring me.  Misbehaving in public.  My husband, though he’s on the same page with me regarding discipline, has a much easier time of shrugging it off once the consequences have been doled out.  Not me – I stew.  I lecture.  I sometimes storm out of the room in desperation.

But by far the WORST thing I do is yell.

Going by the stories I hear from other moms, I know I’m not the only one hollering at my kids.  But I hate it.  I genuinely hate it, and deep down I know it’s totally counter-productive to effective discipline.

In the moment, I just get so caught up in the emotion of the situation, my blood pressure skyrockets, and I let loose.  I don’t scream like a banshee, and I certainly don’t say mean things to my kids, but I don’t like for them to scream to be heard, so I probably shouldn’t do it either.  Not exactly setting a great example…

And does it help when I do scream?  Not one bit.  In fact, I think they tune me out even more.  So maybe I’ve been yelling more lately, which makes them misbehave more, which brings on more yelling, etc.  You get the point.

This week, I am NOT going to raise my voice to my kids.  If the emotions start running high, I will bite my tongue. take a few deep breaths, count to ten, whatever it takes.  I’m hopeful that even just a week of this will bring about some improvements for all of us!

Please join me this week!  Let’s all commit to these seven days where we will NOT yell at our kids.  We can be smarter, more constructive, and more guiding with our discipline.  It will just take a little practice.

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