Last Monday I was flipping my house upside-down in effort to find my misplaced debit card. I was already running late for work and was pissed off because the daycare lady was rude to me over the phone when I told her that we were dropping off late.
That same lady wouldn’t let me pay for my son’s daycare the Friday before because their register closed at 5pm but the daycare didn’t close until 6. She told me I would have to pay Monday and there would be a late fee. I read through the registration packet and it said to pay by close of business on the 4th of each month. So I was prepared to battle it out with the front desk once I dropped him off.
My stress levels were at an all-time high. I was in a panicky sweat because I searched every inch of my house with no luck of finding the debit card. I asked Caleb if he knew where the card was. I showed him a similar card to give him an idea of what it looked like and he said, “OH YEAH! I know where that is!”
He led me to my wallet and pointed at it. I sighed, unfortunately I had already searched for it there.
I told Caleb to hurry and get his shoes on because we were late. He has velcro shoes that he puts on by himself everyday but of course THAT day he decided he was going to lose his mind and forget how to. He was sitting on the steps crying and throwing his shoes against the wall in pure frustration as I was rushing to fill the dog bowl with water (spilling it in the process).
NOTHING was going right that day. With water all over the floor, my phone blowing up, a screaming kid, lost debit card, rude daycare lady, meowing hungry cats and the dog getting in my way with every step I took, I just lost it.
“GET YOUR SHOES ON RIGHT NOW! PICK THEM UP! I DON’T WANT TO HEAR YOUR CRYING! YOU KNOW HOW!”
“Buuu, bu, but, I don’t know how to put them on…” he innocently stuttered.
“I DON’T CARE! FIGURE IT OUT!”
I stomped to the hallway closet to fill the cats’ food bowl. I crouched down and scooped the can into the bowl. Of course when you go too fast, everything screws up somehow. I splattered cat food all over the floor. With that, I let out long, loud grunt of frustration.
All of a sudden I felt the tiniest hand on my back. Then another. The hands slid and wrapped around my shoulders. I felt Caleb’s head rest on my neck. Then he whispered into my ear, “I love you mommy.”
The tension in my body immediately released and the overwhelming feeling of guilt set in. I turned around and gave him a hug and told him that I loved him too, and apologized for yelling at him.
Episodes like last Monday are not as rare as I would like to admit. I was so ashamed of myself after Caleb’s compassionate gesture, that it inspired me to think of ways to avoid placing him victim of my ridiculous outbursts again.
I understand that I am human and I will most likely slip up here and there, but he gets wedged in between me and my stress far too often. I have to try to eliminate it as best I can for the sake of his delicate emotions.
I have recognized 4 points for all parents that will help us stop yelling at our children. Keep reading! I’ll enlighten you…
Put things into perspective
Even if your stress was triggered from the actions of your children, it doesn’t justify you losing your temper unless it is a genuine safety issue or inflicts physical pain on someone. Otherwise, your reaction should be a controlled act of discipline (not true emotion) solely to teach them a lesson, that’s it.
Anything more than that is your own personal issue within yourself that you are pressing onto them.
A lot of times we get overwhelmed with all the responsibilities we have and we need someone to blame it on when things get tough. The first living thing in sight usually gets burdened with it; unfortunately it tends to be the kids.
If I could redo my scenario over again, I would call work ahead of time to tell them I could possibly be late. I would have chalked it up and gone to the bank that morning to get cash instead of running the risk of not finding my card in time. I would have sat next to Caleb to help him pull the tongue out of his shoes so he could fit his feet in. And I would have fed the animals when I woke up.
But we do not get a retry on our situations.
We have to work with what we have in front of us and adjust to it the best we can.
Imagine the worst thing that could happen in regards to the consequences of whatever it is you are stressed about. For me, it was tainting my good reputation for being late. Take that consequence and accept it or sit back for a second and figure out how to avoid it. Just take a breather and do a little thinking. Ask yourself, is the consequence worthy of my current reaction?
If I just took some time out to think about how my supervisors would understand, order a new card and use cash in the meantime and complain to the daycare director on another day, I could have avoided all of that stress and panic.
They are telling you something for a reason
Once our kids begin to talk, we tend to tune out the minor whines and cries that seem insignificant. They are sort of crying wolf, so we learn to ignore it and categorize it as a nuisance. It turn, our lack of attention to them demonstrates disregard to their needs.
Disregard = Disrespect
If you want your kids to actively listen to what you have to say, you must reciprocate that action. If you don’t, you are making them believe that they are not important and their needs don’t matter. You are showing them disrespect by ignoring their words. Don’t you feel disrespected when people ignore you?
When your children say something to you, it is important to take a second and think about it. Even though you may think it is not important, it was important to THEM. You must remember that their brains have not developed as much as ours. They have not experienced what we have. They think COMPLETELY different than we do.
My son didn’t forget how to put his shoes on. The tongue was stuck inside of them and he couldn’t pull it out. If I would have taken a second to ask him why he didn’t know how to put his shoes on, he would have showed me what was wrong. I disregarded his needs and yelled at him for telling me his problem.
What do you think that taught him? I bullied him into shutting up. I made him believe that his problems were not important to me.
It makes them escalate with you
When you yell at a child, it does one of three things:
It hurts their feelings and makes them submissive
Makes them match your mood
Makes them act out
If you hurt their feelings and caused them to shut up, they will be reluctant to bring things up to you in the future in fear of getting yelled at again. They will also start to believe what you say… (For example, I told him I didn’t care that he didn’t know how to put his shoes on).
If you yell or come across as being frustrated with them, they may also start showing signs of stress and frustration. Caleb quickly lost his patience when he tried one time to pull the tongue out and failed, causing him to throw his shoes at the wall.
If they don’t “match” your mood, they may start doing things that they know push your buttons. Like act whiny, not listen and get into things they aren’t supposed to. They could be trying to get your attention because all of your focus is on whatever it is you are stressing over.
They are a direct reflection of you
When you display panic and frustration over something, you are teaching them to do the same. They may too begin to get mad about things easily and act exactly like you. Caleb threw his shoes against the wall. I was slamming cabinets and throwing couch pillows everywhere. I was pushing and yelling at the dog for getting in my way.
The only things I taught him with those actions were that he can ALSO yell and push the dog when he’s mad. He can ALSO yell that he doesn’t care about my problems. He can ALSO throw and slam things when he gets mad.
It doesn’t matter if I meant to do it or not. It is what I taught him. Kids absorb everything around them like a sponge. They look up to you. They want to be just like you. They will do what you do. They don’t know if it’s right or wrong. But you make it right if you are doing it!
Next time you take a breath to scream at your children, hold that breath. Think for a second. Take a look at yourself and determine if you are yelling at them with controlled (not actual) emotion, or if it is real.
Is what you are about to do worth the impact it will have?
Thank you for reading! If you know of parents that may benefit from these 4 points, please share it with them! You may improve that child’s relationship with their parent forever.