I don’t know about you, but I tend to yell an awful lot. I hate to admit it, but the truth is I find myself yelling at my children more often than not. Sometimes I feel like all I say is, “How many times do I have to tell you” or “If I have to come up there…!”
I hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten until I shouted at my daughter for climbing onto the counter—OK, this one at least was warranted. She had grabbed one of our knives off the rack—and my husband J. came in and asked, “Is everything OK? With you, I mean?”
“Yeah, I guess,” I shrugged.
“I just mean…well, you’ve been yelling at the girls a lot lately.”
Had I? I hadn’t realized, but it was true. My days was running together until all I could see was an accumulation of stress and frustration, which I displayed through the unsavory act of shouting at my kids.
I couldn’t tell you how it got like this. I never used to yell. No, really. I can count on one hand how many times I yelled at my first daughter, Alison, during her first years. Then, when her little sister came along and she not even two yet, it seemed I was always shouting at her not to touch the baby, or take her pacifier, or bother her in general. (Come on, you’ve been there, right? Aren’t there times where it would be better summed up to say, “Just don’t breathe on him, alright?”)
When we were a one-child family, if I ever yelled my daughter would practically jump
out of her skin. Now, it doesn’t seem to faze her at all. In fact, I have come to realize that it amuses her. How do you like that? I am stressed and feeling like I could tear my hair out and she thinks it’s for her comic relief.
Which has brought me to an inevitable conclusion: it has to stop. I decided this on Friday night, and I have got through the weekend with only one meltdown, which I managed to stop short. And you know what? She has never been a better behaved child! No, I am not joking. J. and I have marveled about it all weekend. She has listened and obeyed—I even got her out of the toy store this morning without buying a thing and she didn’t throw a fit. She has been respectful to others. She has been gentler with her sister.
I haven’t even had to ask, she’s just been on her best behavior. So, what has this taught me? That I understand nothing about kids.
In all seriousness, what it has taught me is that kids respond to authority. Frankly, when we lose our cool and scream, we’re acting, well, like children. They need us to be in control, and they accept our authority when we have control of ourselves.
Now, I’m not saying I won’t ever slip up, but now that I have seen the results, I have real motivation to bite my tongue even when I’d rather not. There are other benefits, too: I find I am more relaxed at the end of this weekend then I have been in a long time. What good does the yelling do? The kids listen, anyway, and I just raise my blood pressure. Here’s to yelling less, and living longer!