I have a tendency to be a 'little' hot tempered. Ok, a lot. I'm constantly working on it. Some days are good. Some days are bad. I'm human. And since I'm a mom, that means that my kids get the wrath. On Monday we had an especially hard day with my son at occupational therapy. I just felt defeated. I didn't lose my temper. But I also didn't know what else to do. I went to my Bible study that night. Our 'leader' spoke about our words. Specifically about gossip, but also about the power of our words. On the way home that night, through my tears I decided I needed to stop yelling at my son. So I made the commitment that I would do this for one week. I prayed to God for help. Because, if you're a mom, you know you are gonna need help on this one!
Well, it's day 6. It's been an interesting week. Of course the weekend is not yet over. The weekend is always the hardest part because there is so much less structure. I've done really well and haven't yelled. Now, I could sit here and tell you that I did this all on my own. And that would be a lie. First of all I prayed. I prayed for help when I made the commitment. I prayed for help when I started hearing my blood boil. I asked friends to pray. I asked God for wisdom in the middle of my kids meltdowns. I know the only reason I was successful with this is that it was not about me. It was about what I felt God wanted me to do. And about my kids. I'm sure I will slip up (feel free to hold me accountable) but this has been a worthwhile endeavor. There are a few tricks that I learned though. He is what I observed:
1. When you yell, your kids don't hear you. When you whisper, they do. Picture this: I'm in the car with 2 year old monkey and 6.9 year old turtle. They are yelling. Not at each other. And not mad. They are just playing around. But of course I CANNOT concentrate on driving! I start to yell. Then I remember that I'm not supposed to. So I start saying, in a calm manner, "Please use your inside voice." Of course NO ONE can hear me over the screaming. So I just repeat it. Again. And again. And then it worked! Yes, I could have yelled once. But speaking calmly four times did not raise my blood pressure.
2. If I let my children go at their pace some of the time, I don't have a need to yell. It's tempting to tell, and then yell, at my son to set the table 12 times because he's not doing it fast enough. But if I tell him once and I see him moving in that direction, then I don't need to tell him again. It was amazing how much my kids DO obey me. I just needed to be patient for the follow-through.
3. One way I could yell less, was to say yes more. Can we play outside? Yes. Can we squirt shaving cream all over your legs while you are sitting in the driveway? Yes. Can we have waffles for dinner? Yes. I found that when I said yes more often, the no's were respected more. I realized I needed to lower my expectations a little as well as be softer to my kids.
4. I listened. I realized that I do not listen to my kids. This is especially true when I think I know what they want. I cut them off (to tell them no). So when I started listening to the whole sentence and let them complete their thoughts, they were less frustrated. The less frustrated they were, the calmer I was.
We were not without meltdowns. I'll probably write about an especially interesting one later. But I didn't have a meltdown. I did find myself having to stop and breathe, a lot. I believe that I did a good bit of repair on my relationships with my kids this week. My son even asked me to play with him today!