Yelling is the quickest way to drive happiness and joy right out of the home. It’s infectious and creates an insecure discouraging environment. Sometimes you think yelling will make you feel better, or make your children listen but it only makes you feel lower and while your children may respond to your yelling, they’re not listening, they’re just reacting and most likely reacting in fear.
It feels awful to be yelled at and I think it feels worse to be the one doing the yelling. Clearly I know this because I’ve been a “yeller”. I haven’t always been this way, but for the last 5 months I’ve struggled with yelling at my toddler and it’s been breaking mine and his heart. I’ve spent countless hours on my knees praying for more self control, but I start each day feeling slightly discouraged from the last and utterly defeated the first time I yell again.
After one particularly discouraging day (and many apologies to my toddler) I found myself on the kitchen floor praying my heart out for guidance, forgiveness, encouragement…anything. That was when I had a breakthrough. That’s why I’m writing this post, because I found something that’s working for me!
Here’s what I did,
1. Identify the true source of my frustration.
It wasn’t so much that my child was being disobedient, it was that I didn’t feel like I had a good course of action for when he was disobeying. I was frustrated that timeouts weren’t working and that made me feel out of control and hopeless.
2. Make a Change.
The path we were on was not working, so I decided to try something new. No more timeouts. Instead I decided to try a system of consequences (A couple sisters do this, although perhaps implemented differently). Every time Boston disobeys I tell him he’s earned a consequence and he has to do a small chore for me. Most the time that’s folding one towel. So far it’s been a good thing because it gives me a moment to calm down. We go grab a laundry hand towel together and I’ve been teaching him how to fold it. He’s learning a chore, he feels really good about himself after, he’s learning his actions have consequences and no one is feeling worse or punished when all is said and done. If I’m really busy and don’t have time to teach him how to fold the towel (this has to be taught repeatedly because he’s so young) then I have him do a simple chore like putting toys away that he does know how to do. I thought this wouldn’t work because he enjoys doing chores but a sister mentioned to me that the point isn’t to make him sad but to teach him about consequences. It seems to be working. After his consequence he doesn’t return to his previous behavior.
3. Change my thinking.
This last step was the most important. I knew that even with all of my effort and changes I would still have times that I failed and whenever I fail and yell It sends me on a downward slope of discouragement and likely, more yelling. I decided to make a little chart on my fridge. I hide it behind my dinner menu for the week and it has two columns, Failed and Succeeded. Every time I yell I put a tally mark in the Failed column and every time I stick with my plan, and help Boston with a consequence instead of yelling I put a tally in the Succeeded column. This helps me for so many reasons. One it helps me to see that I’m not yelling all day long. Two it helps me to remember that although I failed once I can still spend the rest of the day succeeding. It gives me a visual for my hope. Once I saw even just a couple tally marks in the success column it encouraged me so much that I was eager to continue my progress. It also helps me to be more mindful in those instant moments of anger. Now when I feel like yelling I instantly think of those tally marks, and that one thought gives me enough time to make a choice instead of just acting in anger.
This is the first time I’ve felt encouraged and believe that someday (hopefully soon) yelling won’t be my gut reaction at all. This whole process reminds me that I don’t have to be perfect to be a good Mom. Trying IS what makes me a good Mom and remembering that is what helps me to be better.
Hope this helps someone! It certainly has made a difference in our home. Plus it’s allowed so much more room for dance parties. 🙂