Something has been weighing heavily on me lately. I do something regularly of which I am ashamed. You see, I’m a yeller, and I don’t like that. Sure, there are times when yelling is acceptable, such as when my child pulls away from my handhold and darts into a parking lot. In general, however, yelling does so much damage to a child’s already fragile sense of confidence and self that I feel it’s vitally important to stop my yelling habit as soon as possible.
When I raise my voice to my children I can see the defeat in their eyes. I can see the hurt that my words and tone of voice have caused. I am doing something to my children, the beings I would do anything for, that I cannot do to another adult without serious repercussions. I’ve never hit my children because I don’t believe in using physical force to teach discipline…so why am I doing the exact same thing with my words?
I know many parents who have confessed that they struggle with yelling. I have taken some steps to help in my journey to the other side of yelling, and I hope these steps can help others as well.
Stop Yelling and Have a No Yell New Year!
-The first step to ending my yelling habit is to identify my yelling triggers so I can do my best to avoid them.
Getting the kids out the door, especially for early appointments, is a major cause of yelling in my house. Getting 6 children up, dressed, fed, shoed, and out the door is challenging on good days. Add in one wiggly toddler and a child with serious SPD who is very particular about clothing and shoes and pays no mind to the weather, and our mornings are sometimes a little more than stressful.
This year I pledge to be prepared! The night before our early morning I will do my best to have breakfast ready to go, have clothing and shoes set out, have our lunch packed, and put the kid to bed a little early so they aren’t quite so grumpy.
-I am actively finding and placing no yelling reminders around the house in strategic spots. I’ve read that some parents place small paper hearts around their house. I like that idea but I wanted something a little more personal so I’ve elected to use reminders of my children. For instance, a piece of origami made by my second child hangs on a wall near the shoe rack, acting as a visual reminder to slow down and think before I react.
–Incidental yelling around the house may not be harmful but it reinforces that yelling is an acceptable behavior, so I need to stop.
Incidental yelling is a strange habit for someone like me who is so sensitive to sound, but like I said, I’m a (reforming) yeller. I realize that even the incidental yelling, such as yelling for a child to come out of their bedroom so I can talk to them, is harmful because it reinforces the behavior I want to stop. My hope is that, by reducing my incidental yelling, my children’s incidental yelling happens less frequently as well.
When I feel the urge to yell I will take a time out for myself and I will exhibit self-control. I need to recognize the signs of stress in my body so I can distance myself from the situation. Perhaps I’m at the end of my rope after a long day of childhood arguments or maybe I’m up against a deadline and some of the kids won’t stop interrupting me; that isn’t an excuse for me to blow my top and yell. When I recognize that I am on the cusp of yelling, I will announce that I need a moment, excuse myself, and return when I am calmer and ready to deal with the situation in a useful manner.
While I have made a lot of progress, I have a long way to go, it takes time to replace old habits with healthier ones. I am very much looking forward to a No Yell New Year, this year and all the years to come.