Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Day 1 Again and Again Until I Get it Right

Today's Mantra (Source FB)
Another day 1 to come tomorrow. I didn't make it through the school prep this morning. We are all so ready for the Christmas break (yes, I get to say Christmas in regards to school here!). I've spent an hour reading The Orange Rhino blog from this point in her challenge and my spirit is renewed. She repeated day 1 9x in a row before hitting her streak. I will hit my stride.

Yes, I will hit my stride. One thing I realized today is that during my 6-day streak of success I took better care of myself. I gave myself time outs and played calming music during the most stressful parts of the day. That music really helped, I tell you, so I'm back at it today.

This isn't a goal I set lightly nor some modern day anti-actually-parenting-your-children nonsense. No, I believe in discipline and limits. I have no problem telling my children "no" and I have high expectations for their behavior. Sometimes too high, perhaps and I struggle to strike a balance with my husband's more fun-based relaxed (cough*permissive*cough) parenting.

Sometimes too high because then I yell when my expectations of their behavior aren't met, yet now I realize that sometimes they're just being normal boisterous children and I need to let them be. From that I know that I am the one who I need to work on because they deserve that freedom of childhood. To be children. To play, to get loud and to get rough on occasion.

Nature Girl (now 8)
I have to learn to maintain my own sense of peace so that I can let "kids be kids." I have a lot of learning to do; thank goodness that I have three amazing young teachers.

How can I possibly yell at these incredible people that I produced?
The Boy (now 4)
Sweet Rose (now 7)

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Stopped Yelling and Here is What I've Learned (So Far)

I managed a whopping 10 days without yelling at my children. During that time, I only snapped at my younger daughter once (a "nasty snap," starting me over on the Orange Rhino challenge) and yelled at my husband twice (starting me over again). Then, between last night and this morning I pretty much yelled at everybody.

Oh well, I'm back on the wagon and sharing what I've learned over the past couple of weeks. In no particular order:

1. Yelling is a habit. Like any other habit, when we make a clear choice and decide to invest 100% of ourselves to changing a bad habit, we absolutely can achieve it.

2. Yelling is an addictive habit. We get hooked on the adrenaline that courses through our bodies in the build up of stress, straight through to the point of yelling, and in the aftermath of guilt. After not yelling for several days, and then choosing (that's right - choosing, or to put it another way, granting myself permission) to yell, I could feel that old familiar and luring rush.

3. Yelling is a choice. Like it or not, every response to any stimuli is a choice. "I don't have a choice" or "It's the only way I can get through to them," and "nothing else works" excuses are big, fat BS. Yes, is big fat BS! Are you going to agree with your 2-year-old that they had no other choice but to bite their brother or whack their sister in the head with that toy car? No. You tell them to use their words if they're upset. Not screaming words, either. Well, Mommy? Time to stop telling and do some showing.

4. Yelling is bullying. We all want to protect our children from the experience of being bullied, don't we? Well, what about when we are the bully? Next time you start yelling, try to step back and watch yourself objectively. Or go write it all down right after so that you can look at it later. Or set up your smart phone and hit record during your most stressful times and play it back later to see how you behaved. Yelling is bullying.

5. Yelling is part of a vicious cycle. You yell, you feel bad for yelling, you yell some more and your kids yell back. The worse you feel, the more you yell. I have good news, though - it works the other way, too. The more you keep your cool, the better you feel and the less you feel like yelling. Trust me - I have experienced this recently and it is glorious. Like springtime.

6. Yelling totally damages self-esteem - your children's and your own. I have clear evidence of this in my house and it is the number one motivation for me to stop. Being yelled at feels scary and dangerous to children. And yelling, the really big yelling, feels scary and dangerous when we're doing it, doesn't it? Ever lose it in such a big way you almost wonder who the hell this maniac yelling at her kids at the top of her lungs is? I have. It feels horrible and I lose all respect for myself. Then we go and tell them they made us yell, or made us frustrated or made us mad. They didn't make us do anything or feel anything. Only we can choose that. Own it.

Instead of, "You make me so mad when you don't listen," try, "I get so angry when I am repeatedly ignored that I feel like yelling!" Own your own feelings. That's they only way our children will learn to own theirs. We are their role-models, so model what you want to see because they internalize everything and then reflect it right back at us! They are little sponges and I can guarantee, that if you're a yeller, you have self-esteem issues and so likely do your kids. Sorry to be blunt, but it's my mission to improve lives and that takes getting real with yourself.

7. Yelling at your kids is both taboo and yet, strangely socially acceptable among parents. We all do it. "What else can you do?" we say to each other. I want this to stop. Not in a judgey-preachy way, but in a supportive, "Yes, you can keep calm!" way. Because you can. I can. We can.

8. You can stop yelling. Yes, you can. Didn't I just tell you that? If I can, you can! If a mother of 4 boys ages 6 and under can, you can. If a mother of a pre-teen girl and 3 younger kids can, you can! You absolutely can! It takes a willingness to take a good hard look at yourself, a 100% commitment to change and practice, practice, practice!

The good news is that dramatic shifts take place within just a few days. Give yourself a goal of just 3 days and I promise that you will see results you thought you'd never see! Even after 1 day you'll see results. Your kids will be happier, you will feel happier! I was surprised to find myself laughing more, connecting more, playing more... those results will drive you to do even better.

And when you mess up and yell or do what The Orange Rhino calls a "Nasty Snap," you will simply start over. You will start over until using "your words" in a reasonable voice becomes your new habit. Until then, scream in the freezer, another room or in the toilet, just not at your kids (or spouse).

Stop making excuses and stop yelling at your kids.

Have you joined the challenge? Share what you've learned below. Haven't joined? Be brave and share why.

Monday, December 2, 2013

No More Yelling!

I am proud of myself today. I haven't yelled at my kids since Thursday. This may surprise some of you, but I am a recovering shouter. It's true. Until Thursday, I yelled at my kids frequently, and especially in the morning during the get-ready-for-school rush and at bedtime, when I'm eager for the day to be done.

Thursday I dropped them off feeling horrible. Guilty. I had shouted, pretty much at the top of my lungs, at my eldest for her lack of motion when we were already running late. The need for punctuality is a trigger of mine, and it is no excuse to berate my children. Then, for basically the same reason (lack of motion) that evening, I shouted at my younger daughter to get ready for bed.

I don't say mean things, but I have had a tendency to say things meanly. I'll tell them once nicely, twice firmly, thrice with some spice and the fourth, well... the yell. For months I've been concerned about their self-esteem and too late, I have realized that it is directly connected to the amount of shouting that I do. Well, not too late. Just in time.

Remember when you learned that you could say pretty much anything you wanted to a young baby and the only thing that actually mattered in regards to their comfort (or upset) was the way you said it? It didn't matter whether you were spouting every swearword in the book or reciting Hush Little Baby, what counted - what counts - is your tone and body language.

So, I have finally chosen to stop shouting and yelling. I have made leaps and bounds in my own personal development over the past few years, and especially this past year (becoming a life coach and all that), yet I couldn't nail this parenting flaw. Or wouldn't. Wouldn't own up to the fact that losing my temper was a full-on choice.

Now I am. With the help of a website I happened upon several months ago, The Orange Rhino. Friday, I decided to take the challenge. Well, really I decided Thursday after drop-off, but then I lost it and yelled at Sweet Rose anyway that night.

Friday I committed to the challenge and I made it through the day without yelling at my kids. Then at the very end of the night I got annoyed with my husband over him disrupting bedtime (annoyed that my husband wanted extra cuddles with his kid because he'd been away again all week? Hello!) and yelled at him.

My kids agreed I had to start over. Today marks day 3 of successfully not yelling at anyone. Of course, all three are at school, but I made it through the weekend and the morning rush (we were running really late!) successfully.

It felt amazing this morning to notice that normally I would be shouting at my kids for not being dressed yet when we were supposed to be getting our shoes on and out the door. It felt incredible in that moment to observe myself actively choosing to be calm and present with them.

Yelling at them is a disconnect. A coping mechanism. A way to put the focus on their behavior instead of mine. What it actually does is disconnect them from me in a negative way, make them feel unsafe with their own mother and cause them to lose respect for me. In turn, I feel guilty and lose respect for myself. No wonder there are self-esteem issues in this house.

I haven't been the mother or the role-model I imagined I would be 9 years ago before Nature Girl actually popped out, followed very quickly by her sister. Now, I see that woman in sight. Very nearby, in fact. I know that this isn't something I can do by myself. That's why I'm publicly stating that I am no longer going to yell at my children. That is why I have enlisted their help and the help of a couple of mom friends, my NLP accountability partner (who is working process magic on me to help me change limiting beliefs and interrupt negative patterns in my behavior) and even a counselor to help me see more clearly what I'm modeling to my children.

Are you a yeller? Are you brave enough to stop? Take the challenge with me! Read up on the challenge details, including the definitions of yelling and the voice levels involved. Then let me know you're in and we'll support each other! Not a yeller or your kids are grown and gone? Encourage me! :)