Monday, January 11, 2010

No More Yelling, Mommy!

Abbie's back! With a true confession. Thanks for being real, Abbie. We all relate to this on some level...




I got started a bit early on my biggest goal for this year because I really needed to change, I needed to STOP.

I have a temper. I know I’m not the only momma that struggles with this (tell me I’m not the only one, please?). Honestly, this temper of mine might be the biggest surprise of motherhood for me. I never EVER thought I would get so crazy-angry that I would explode at a 3 year old’s little naughtiness. And it’s been something I’ve wanted to change about myself for awhile.

The first time I tried to change this loud weakness of mine was by setting a public goal on our family blog. I blogged that I would stop yelling at my oldest son by the time our second baby was due. Ha! Pregnancy hormones plus learning to cope with tantrums - it didn’t work. I got a big F next to my No More Yelling goal because there was no immediate accountability.

Next, I tried putting myself in timeout (you’ve all seen the IKEA commercial). I’m a big believer in Mommy Timeouts: it’s good to get away from the kids for moment and breathe. And it worked…for about two weeks, but I found myself doing it again. Getting frustrated at the end of the day and taking it out on my two tiny kids while we picked up the day’s disaster.

Then, I stopped trying. Okay, fine, this is me. I’m not strong in the patience department. I yell. That’s just fine. I can still be a good mom without changing this. I tried to just accept it, move on, and believe that my kids could handle it when mommy lost it.

But I couldn’t move on. Every time I raised my voice in anger the warmth in our home vanished. There’s a difference between “DON’T TOUCH THAT HOT STOVE!” or “DINNER’S READY!” and ranting on about broccoli loud enough for all the neighbors to hear. I wasn’t happy with myself. I wasn’t happy with the idea of my kids growing up in a home with a mom that yelled.

(Prepare for a little tangent.) I have a fantasy of my 75th birthday party: my kids will give toasts and say all sorts of fantastic, flattering, true things about my mothering (it’s a fantasy birthday party - they can’t say bad things); including, “I don’t really remember mom yelling at us kids. Sure, she got upset when we did something dumb, but she never yelled out of anger.”

One night, as I was thinking about this fantasy and how I was going to make it happen, I had a thought that I should reread The Tongue of Angels by Jeffery Holland.

“We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself.”

After reading this, it childishly and materialistically hit me: A chart! Made of scrapbook paper! With stickers (hole punched paper with tape, really) and Mod Podge! And a prize! An Anthropologie gift card! No. An H&M gift card! I can get way more H&M goodness with a gift card. And I get to go shopping by myself! A stroller free shopping trip! And maybe even a bakery stop on the way home. BINGO! DEAL! I’m in! Let the game begin! At that point I realized my RealAge is about six, and I was excited.

I told my husband about the idea and he was on board. He even helped me come up with the super accountable sticker system: a dollar toward the gift card for every day I don’t yell. If I have a freak-out moment, a dollar goes back to our savings account and a black sticker covers the colorful sticker (notice my four black stickers. oops). Bring it on!

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be. There are moments I really feel like steam is going to come spewing out of my ears, but I think I really don’t want a black sticker today, and that’s what keeps me in the game (sadly, it’s not I really don’t want to put down my child for something stupid, but we do what we can, right? Baby steps). It's also been a lot of fun too! I do a goofy dance as I put another little dot of good mothering on my chart - it's a good feeling.

Today I’ve got $41 towards something Swedish and my kids have a much happier, more in-control mommy. I’m hoping that once my chart is full I will be able to keep it going, that I will have a habit to breathe and regain control instead of yell. A real change. And I think it might also help to remember that I told all you Bloom readers that I was going to stop yelling at my kids. NO MORE YELLING, MOMMY!

The new year makes us want to change; and I know we/I usually focus on starting behaviors (I really need start working out daily), but sometimes there are things we need to stop.

So, what do you want to STOP doing this year?

40 comments:

Trisha said...

What a brave thing for you to share. I too am a yelling Mommy. It is also something I have been trying to change. I agree with you that my three year olds naughties can bring out my anger pretty quick, I never thought that would happen. I like your idea of a chart of me as we have used charts for her. I think I will try it and see how it goes. Thanks for sharing!

Mary Saline said...

Thank you sooo much for sharing! You are an answer to many many many late night prayers. It sounded like I was writing it. I am going to try your idea with the chart and a fantastic reward! Plus I will read your article by Elder Holland. I do wish there were little support groups for mommys to keep up going with encouragement. I think alot of mommy stuggle with yelling, but just don't admit it. Thank you again!

vanessa said...

Ok who wants to make this chart for me and mail it? I go for so long being good and then do bad for a few days then go back to being good. It is a bad cycle!!

Lesley said...

What a gorgeous chart to mark such great improvements! I can really relate to the rewards system. It being a worthy goal is never quite enough for me -- there has to be a carrot that I really really like. We are human. :)

I loved the GC talk you quoted. It means so much to me too. And the 75th b-day party? I totally have that dream too!

Here's to no more yelling for either of us! I heart Bloom!

Jonesy said...

Sometimes when I'm in the middle of one of my tantrums (because really, isn't that exactly what it is?) I think, "Hope nobody from DCFS is walking by..." When friends compliment my ability to be so patient with my 5 children, I secretly think, "If you only knew..." Thank you for letting me know I'm not the only one who completely loses it, and for reminding me that this is probably the thing I need to work on most in the coming year. I'll be pulling up Elder Holland's talk again during naptime.

EmmaJ said...

Thanks for posting that talk by Elder Holland. I have woken up as a very grumpy mommy the past 2 days and I needed a little reminder about who exactly I am being grumpy at.

Liz Johnson said...

That is FANTASTIC! I love it! I think I might copy this idea (but it will end up WAY less cute) because I have the same problem. This is such a great idea!

Brooke said...

I also find it hard not to yell at my kids.. they are 2 and 3 and I am 8 months pregnant... go figure. But something I am in need of STOPPING besides yelling is to stop making excuses to not play with my kids. I always have one... something needs to be cleaned, or done. I NEED to play with my kids more.
I might have to try a chart. That is fantastic idea!

Laun and Catherine said...

great post- great new year resolution!

Megan said...

Thanks so much for that post! I also have a terrible temper and hate it when I lose it and yell at my kids. It's so dumb! I'm going to try this to. Also, I'm going to read that talk, that quote you posted just about made me cry......thanks.

hilary w said...

What a great goal! I can TOTALLY relate. I wasn't a yelling mommy until after Grace was born. I all of a sudden couldn't deal with Jack being naughty anymore! It is also a work in progress but now I can say I only yell once in a while. What is it about motherhood that can bring out the best AND the worst in us?

Bloom said...

Abbie,

I am so grateful for your willingness to share this. I am not the kind of person who blows up on coworkers, her husband, her friends, etc. So my ability to blow up at my oldest child really caught me by surprise. Sometimes after I would lose it and yell at him I would feel so ashamed and would think to myself, "You wouldn't have done that if someone had been here." Which tells me that I have the ability to control it, and that I was choosing not to. I, too, started this goal a bit before the new year, and have been working really hard on taking the emotion out of disciplining. I can't even express how much happier I am to be more in control and to not see that terrible look on Blaine's face when I would yell at him. We have a more peaceful home than we used to.

Thank you so much, Abbie, for the inspiration.

xo
anne

Jesslyn said...

You're not the only one! I find my patience cracking when my 2yo throws a fit that will wake the twins from their nap, or when all three are crying and it's the witching hour at the end of the day. Your chart/reward idea is fabulous! I may have to do that myself. Dr. Laura once gave a great tip that when your kids get louder, you get quieter. When I remember to do it, it helps me calm down quickly. I'd like my girls to grasp that the really quiet voice means a consequence is coming. That would be nice!

Linda said...

From one who has been there I wish you all the luck in the world. keep trying

Anna said...

Thanks for being real! I would love to stop yelling. Emailing this to my husband now!!!!

Nicole said...

Can I just say thank you, thank you and another thank you. I am going to read that talk as well. I am not a patient person and I know as my baby gets older its just going to get worse if I don't nip it in the bud now! Thank you for being so candid. We all need someone to do that for us. :)

Brianne said...

Thank you so much for sharing...just what I needed to hear. It's so easy for me to make excuses and say "my boys are especially hard or mischievous" so it's okay for me to lose it. Or even, "if they see that something makes mommy angry, they won't do it again." Ha! That last one ALWAYS backfires...they want to do it even more! I started re-reading the book "Love and Logic: Magic for Early Childhood" recently in my efforts to replace my anger with love and empathy and I highly recommend it. I think I'll have to implement a reward for myself though too, because I need all the motivation I can get! Thanks again!

Tasha said...

What a great idea. I love what a support group this blog creates. I think I am usually pretty patient with my kids, but if I have other stresses in my life, or a lack of sleep especially, then I am notorious at taking it out on my little ones. Kids have a way of instantly filling me with remorse and guilt though. I am so glad for that and hope that one day it will be enough to stop my "tantrums" all together. Thank you for the inpiration.

Kalli Ko said...

You are like a flipping genius of something Abbie.

I love this idea. Except I need one for every day things like showering, or changing out of sweatpants (2 stars!), or wearing a bra (1 star!).

Melissa said...

Good for you to make this a goal and work to achieve it! I have to keep myself in check all the time. I grew up in a physically and emotionally abusive house. My mom was either swinging or yelling. I look at my little girls and wonder how in the world my mom could ever have treated my sister and I that way? Now I know. It was rage--anger, sadness, frustration over her own issues from her past childhood and present marriage. We usually have more tendency to lose control or react disproportionately when something is not right with US. On occasion I have tried yelling-the really loud "let it go" kind of yelling, and a couple of times I've swatted a fanny. I thought maybe I would be more effective and I sensed it would feel great. All I felt was that I wanted to throw up. I could also feel a void which I know was the Spirit withdrawing. I never wanted to feel that way again so I have tried to learn from my slip ups and make changes. I have learned that my tendency to yell and get that whiney nagging voice happens when I don't have a plan. If I have a plan (consequences thought out in advance), I do much better. I am SO not perfect, but I am trying. I think learning from our mistakes is a HUGE part of our progress. I hope this wasn't too heavy for me to post. I just really appreciate taking our divine roles seriously and learning from each other. Thanks for being brave enough to share Abbie! xoxo

Linds said...

I'm a yeller too and I hate it! I tried putting coins in a jar every time I lost it with my kids, but I got really discouraged when I saw how many coins were in the jar at the end of the week (until I told my husband and he sheepishly explained he'd been putting his spare change in the jar!). I like your idea better and may try something similar.

The Parkers said...

I'm making my chart today!!!! What a fabulous idea! I am a yelling momma as well and have had some really disappointing and truly unacceptable moments. They really do fill you with guilt. I think I will have to include not yelling at my husband as well, because he sadly gets a lot of it too. Thank you for sharing this and making me feel like I am not a looser mom. Thanks again!!!

Bloom said...

(sigh!) my not-to-do list is a lengthy one. at the top of it for 2010 is time-wasting. i've just got to be more efficient and mindful about how I spend my time.

Thanks for a post that's helped us all be a little more introspective, Abbie.

em

jeanine said...

Thank you so much for that! I think I may start a chart of my own. I've really been trying to be more conscious of my temper lately.

ranestorm said...

this happens to me too! i have a 2.5 yo super energetic little boy and a 11 mo old very loud little boy, so i hear ya!

believe it or not last week i read this: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1940395-1,00.html about helicopter parenting (overparenting) and followed it up with read excerpts (courtesy of amazon) of Free Range Kids (author - Lenore Skenazy) and got a dose of reality. part of the reason i yell is because i'm trying to control too much. i've concentrated on letting go of the little things (and some not so little things) and in return have seen the most amazing growth in my oldest in just a week. and he has a happier (and more sane!) mom in return.

you're doing great work! and the reward system is a wonderful idea!

Abbie said...

Hello! THANK YOU SO VERY VERY MUCH! I was a bit (a lot) nervous to post this because I didn't want to admit I have a problem with it (it's so darn tempting to pretend I have it all together with parenting my sweet babes, but that doesn't help anyone esp myself). I also didn't want people thinking I'm a terrible mother. So thanks again for all the validation. Really, it means a lot to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. Also, thanks for all the suggestions on extra helpers.

Now I have even more motivation to not yell! I'm going to change FOR REAL!

AND please let me know if you do end up making a chart - I would love to see it! Let the Bloom ladies know and we can get in touch!

We live in a Zoo! said...

I yell at my kids too :( What has finally helped me to stop is my four year old made me two "valentines" he called them, then he told me that if I yell he is going to take them away. He reminds me of this every time I start to raise my voice and it absolutely breaks my heart every time. But I stop yelling. What a brave thing for my son to do. And he doesn't do this in a, I have power over Mommy sort of way either. :D

Granny J said...

I've sooo been there. Then I found, read and did this...."Feelings Buried Alive Never Die" by Karol Truman. I went to bed angry and woke up NOT angry! I hope this helps, we moms can be really tough on everyone, even ourselves.

Rachael said...

like everyone else is saying--love this post. Abbie, thanks so much for a great idea that will help me to be a more gentle mother.

Laurel said...

Oh, this is a super great post. Love everything about it. And every mother--me included--can relate to it in some way. Thanks for giving us the hope and inspiration to change what needs to be changed. (Not an easy thing to do, but doable nontheless!) Bravo! I give you a big, bright, colorful sticker!

Erin said...

I needed to hear this- I've also lost it with my little guy and always feel empty and horrible after. I know it's something that HAS to stop, and I appreciate the honesty,validation and wonderful motivation this post provided just now. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jenn said...

I LOVED this post so much. Thanks for sharing. I too struggle with this and it is something that I also wanted to STOP doing for the New Year. What a great idea.

Marlo said...

Ditto on it being a surprise that you could yell at a little kid, but never anyone else in life! What a shocker. I can't wait to see how it goes. I am right here trying along with you. Good luck.

Marlo said...

Apparently shouting is the new spanking, according to the NY Times. Check it out: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/fashion/22yell.html

Abbie said...

Marlo! That article is awesome. So interesting. My friend said she read it, but I couldn't remember where.

I really wonder how many parents yell and don't fess up, ya know. And I like the part about how it's not the yelling that hurts, it's how it's taken. Like I said, if I'm yelling about a hot stove or warning my kids of something, then I don't count it against myself. But if I'm demeaning, then that's wrong.

Also, the other day I didn't yell at my son, but I did go on and on about how pooping in underwear is so gross (tmi? sorry), but I counted that as yelling and got a black sticker for it because I felt horrible about it.

So yeah, it may be tricky to define what yelling is and that little snippet helped me know. I just have to watch what comes out of my mouth!

Anyway, doubt anyone will see this, but I just had to say I really liked that article.

emily said...

I too want to stop yelling ... and as i read this post i can TOTALLY relate! I'm a super duper ooper schmooper copy cat and i think this is a superfantastic idea! Thanks for posting about this and good luck on your chart!

Yvette said...

I definitely guilty of this crime! I have a 4.5 year old son and a nearly 2 year old son who can drive me insane! I seriously need to work on the yelling problem too. I almost named my blog "crazy mommy" I feel like that most of the time! I appreciate your honesty and insight!

Andrews Family said...

Thanks SOOO much for the chart idea. I had NO idea that so many other moms yelled at their kids. I felt like I was the only one. I've been praying and bawling my eyes out this past week about trying to change my parenting (especially my yelling) and you were another answer to my prayers. I am so excited to make a chart for me and possibly my 4 year old-I've already rubbed off on him :( . Thanks for being honest...I'm glad I randomly stumbled across your blog (came from Jayne Wells blog). I'm going to read that article from Elder Holland right now. I hope I can do as good as you....my kids, myself, and my voicebox need it!

Bells' said...

There is a great book out there if you're interested "Scream Free Parenting" by Hal Runkel. Here is the website: screamfree.com. They have great tools.

Nikole said...

This is a wonderful idea. I would never have thought of it! Need to try it