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! :)