As a mother, I reacted intensely to little slip-ups made by my child. The feeling became so overwhelming that it would lead to the same round of emotions- anger, yelling, guilt, self-pity, remorse. So, it was time I did something!
Any modern parent would agree that bringing up kids seems to be a pretty challenging task these days. This is not to say that our folks had it easy or that we were any less naughty or stubborn when we were growing up.
However, it does seem like we raise our voices a lot more when it comes to our kids.
Why do we yell?
Recently, in a parenting forum that discussed this aspect, we realised that the triggers are many and widespread. Chief among them are:
- Temper tantrums
- Disobedience when it comes to rules
- Unwillingness to share toys or other possessions
- Eating troubles such as not eating on time, slow eating or unhealthy eating
- Sibling rivalry
- Inability to stick to schedules
As mothers, I think we tend to react strongly to issues. I am not really sure what causes it, but it’s true. If I were to single out one aspect of my character, which has surprised me in the last 8 years (yes, that’s when motherhood kicked in), it’s how intensely I reacted to little slip-ups or pardonable offences made by my child. And the feeling became so overwhelming that it would invariably lead to the same round of emotions- Anger, Yelling, Guilt, Self-pity, Remorse- all for what? Because my daughter had “deliberately ignored” my instructions for the fifth time within an hour. So, it was time I did something about this medley of emotions.
What did I do?
What shook me out of my regressive routine of yelling was a casual remark that my husband dropped one day, saying, ‘Looks like your yelling voice has become your normal voice.’ That stopped me in my tracks, long enough to pause and reflect on what I was doing to the innocence of my child , to the emotional fabric of her psyche and to the precious relationship that we shared.
That was when I sought out and undertook the Orange Rhino Challenge. To keep it realistic, I took it up for a week, at first. To make myself accountable, I kept a daily journal and posted it on my blog. I invited close friends and family to follow me on the blog and to encourage me by sharing how they felt about it.
Once the week was up, I decided to extend it to a month. The thrill that came out of completing that challenge was tantamount to scaling a hilly peak. Today, if I do raise my voice marginally, my child knows I mean business and not because I am doing it out of habit. It’s not the perfect solution, but it is a promising start.
So, you don’t yell at all?
In all honesty, I won’t say that. There are times when yelling is necessary. Perhaps the child is in danger of harming himself, either in the kitchen or on the playground. Maybe she is walking towards a bunch of fearsome animals and does not know that they could be dangerous. I may need to catch her attention in a melee of screaming kids at a birthday party. So, yes, I would need to yell then.
But, these yells are timed and important. They are not the yells born out of anger or emotion. That is the difference you need to identify. So, now I consciously watch out for my personal triggers and anticipate the outcome, without yelling.
How do I feel about the challenge?
As a result of the challenge, I connected with many parents who identified with my triggers. They, in turn, put me in touch with some spectacular articles on positive parenting and mothering techniques.
Notice that I mentioned Positive Parenting and not Permissive parenting. Yes, there is a difference. Positive parenting would mean that I try and empathise with the child’s situation. But it does not mean that I will succumb to the tantrum that the child may throw for a preferred toy in the supermarket. The former will ensure that I listen to the child’s needs, while the latter implies that I will give in to the child’s desires or wants.
Today, I stay open to new experiences and diverse opinions on parenting. I am far more open to criticism now. I am willing to step back and view a situation through the lens of the other parent.
Let’s face it. Yelling less is good for us physically. We can regulate our physical health by means of breathing, exercise and nuritious food. Why can we not do the same for our mental and emotional health? It’s easy. Start with a day of yelling less and see how far it takes you on the road to a more peaceful parent.
For more tips on yelling less read my blog Diary of a doting mom