It happens. You know those moments when you are trying to keep your cool and two kids are fighting. You try to let it go, but it seems that it gets louder and louder and before you know it, you’ve lost your cool and you start yelling back. *SIGH* I hate those moments.
I feel horrible when it happens. As an adult I know it is not right. That is not how to handle a situation. Whenever the kids are doing things be it not listening, fighting, being told to do something for the twelfth time….it all can make us blow our tops and end up yelling at our kids.
Now, I am not saying that there are not times when it may be OK to yell at them. Those are when there may be danger like a hot stove or running into the street, etc. What I am talking about are the moments when I need to really be the adult and learn how to control my own emotions.
Kids learn from their parents. The last thing I want is for them to think that the way to handle situations is to yell. We know that doesn’t work. Instead, I want them to learn how to calmly and rationally deal with a situation.
A couple of years ago, my son had my iPad in his hand. Somehow, he dropped it and it fell on it’s corner and landed on a rock. Of course, that instantly shattered the screen. I could have yelled at him. Trust me, it would have been easy. But you know what, I didn’t.
Why, you ask? The reason was him. The minute it happened, I looked into his eyes and could see the fear. He thought he was in the deepest trouble he’d ever seen in his young life. I also realized that it was a thing. It was replaceable. Sure, it was expensive to do, but at the same time, he did not intentionally do it. It truly was an accident.
Instead, I hugged him and told him that I knew it was not on purpose. We then sat down and talked about how we take care of our things. We discussed why we really should not take them outside. Instead of me yelling at him, we turned it into a learning moment.
You might be thinking “That was a special circumstance Tracie, what about the day to day things – like the fighting?” I have been doing better with this.
The minute that they start to fight, I just try to stay out of it. I truly do not intervene. I am trying to teach my children how to fight their own battles. I am not going to be with them most of their lives, so they need to learn how to diffuse a situation. Quite often, they do actually work it out. (I will admit that I am doing a lot of deep breathing and focusing on something else to ensure I do not get involved).
Of course, they are kids, so they can’t always come to a resolution on their own. Sometimes, it will end with a punch or slap to the arm. That is when I have to step in. I still do not yell. This is what I do:
- Take a deep breath before I speak to them.
- I get down on my knees so that I am eye to eye level — or lower. I don’t want them to feel me looking down on them. Instead, I look directly at them or up at them.
- I hold their arms up by their shoulder so I can ensure they look at me in my face.
- I start to talk to them about what happened. I do this with each of my kids and tell the other one to wait his or her turn. This is done so I can get the facts.
- Once they fill me in, I ask each of them, what was wrong about what you did? What could you have done differently? They each give answers to me that prove they have listened to me.
- We end with me hugging them and telling them that I always love them, but I don’t like it when they fight.
- Finally, they have to hug one another or do a fist bump or something before they are allowed to run away.
That is how we handle fights. As I said, there are a myriad of reasons as to why we might yell. These are the thing I have been doing and you know what, they work (most of the time):
Take a deep breath. Before I ever speak when I am upset, I just take in a deep breath. That allows me the pause I need and can often switch off my brain from feeling the need to yell so that I can speak to my kids rationally.
Put myself in my kids’ shoes. This is one of them that really works for me. Whenever my kids say that I am yelling, it makes me think about how it feels to be them. As a result, I try to put myself in their shoes. If they make a mess, they were trying to be independent (which is what I want).
Speak softly. I will admit that I have a pretty powerful voice. I may be just 5’2″, but when I talk, you’d think I was 5’11”. That can be intimidating to a lot of people, especially kids. I just try to speak more slowly and calmly. What is amazing is how much better I feel when my voice is not booming through the house too! This is a win-win situation.
Being more mindful. Whenever something is bothering me, be it family or work related stress or I am trying to focus on a difficult task, it can make my temper a lot shorter. I find in those moments I yell more. I try to really think about what is going on with me personally and try not to project that onto my kids or others.
I also do this with my kids. When my oldest gets hungry, she gets irritable and cries. When my son is tired or overly stimulated, he cries and gets frustrated. When I can recognize these situations in my kids, then it helps me know that they are not intentionally acting up, it is truly something that they can’t control. In these moments, I can be more thoughtful and mindful of what they are going through.
Give yourself a time out. This is one that works for me – a lot. If I feel I am going to explode with anger and yelling, I will actually put myself in my own room for a time out. It is amazing how well that works. I get a chance to just remove myself completely from the situation. I can think for a moment and clear my mind. It helps calm me down so that I can return to the kids and speak with them rationally and not like a raving lunatic.
Let me just say that this has NOT been easy. However, most things we do as parents seldom are. This is not a job for the weak. You have to be very strong to be a parent. Sometimes, it just flat out sucks. However, most of the time, it is the most amazing job on the planet and I’d not trade it for anything at all.