I often think back to my perfect parenting days, you know, before I had kids and knew just what kind of parent I was going to be. I knew that I was going to be the parent that remained calm in the midst of my children’s tantrums. Who would respond with a zen-like manner when they misbehaved. My kids, in turn, were also going to be calm, controlled. It was going to be great.
Fast forward 8 years and three kids. And that is not, at all, my parenting style. I’m a yeller. There I said it. I fully and freely confess that I yell at my kids A lot. Probably too much. But my 5 year-old especially only seems to hear me if I’m yelling. I will calmly tell him to put his shoes on the first 5 or 6 times, but eventually I find myself screaming, “JUST PUT YOUR FREAKING SHOES ON ALREADY!”
I know that this is not an ideal situation. And I’ve tried to fix it. I’ve tried getting down on his level and talking to him calmly. I’ve tried that weird thing where you whisper what you want; supposedly this is so out of the norm that it makes your kids WANT to listen to you. Yeah, didn’t work on my kid either. I’ve tried a REALLY SPECIFIC chore chart. That was exciting enough to get me about 2 days of cooperation. Then we were back to yelling.
Maybe if the yelling wasn’t effective I could stop. But it totally is. It’s positive reinforcement 101. I tell him something over and over again. Get nothing. Yell at him like a crazy woman. He immediately jumps up and does what I ask. Ugh. It’s a vicious cycle.
My husband and I have this weird agreement where only one of us can lose our cool at any given moment. Which at the time seemed great, like we’d switch off being the crazy (mean) parent and the sane (nice) parent. But this isn’t how it has worked out. I’m around my kids SO MUCH MORE. So I have found that my patience with them is ridiculously low. Whenever he is around and I’m losing it (so basically every time we’re together), he thinks that he is supposed to be the cool one. The one that cleans up the “damage” my yelling has done. And then I yell at him about not losing his cool. EVER. So in comparison I just feel even crazier. Yet another vicious cycle.
I’m hoping this is just the period of life I’m in with younger kids. I don’t want to be a yeller. Everyday, I try to not yell. Some days I’m more successful than others. School is back in session as well, so we’ll be spending more time apart from one another. Absence makes the heart grow fonder (and a mom more patient). Hopefully.
So what are your strategies for not yelling? Are you a yeller like me? Do you embrace the yelling or are you trying to stop? I’ll take any advice you care to give!