Why are you YELLING?

Sorry.  I wasn’t yelling at you.  I was yelling at myself.  I have one huge flaw that I struggle with every day.  E-VER-Y day!

I am a yeller.

If my kids don’t get ready when they need to, I yell.  If they take 40 minutes to eat breakfast, while I run around getting myself together, I yell.  When it takes them 25 minutes to take PJs off and put clothes on… well, you get the picture, I’m sure.

This past Wednesday, we were in our van, driving down the .1 mile street to the school, because the girls cannot get ready in enough time to walk or ride bikes.  I’ve just finished an EPIC yelling fest to get them out the door. My oldest, who elected this year to take over the 3rd seat, you know, the one furthest from me, is yelling at me! She is yelling AT ME! She says, with tears in her eyes, “You make it worse when I’m stressing out and you are yelling at me.” Whoa. Yep.  Right there. Now, I calmly reply, “First, you shouldn’t speak to me that way. Second, I probably am. I don’t mean to. HOWEVER, I would not yell if you two would just get ready instead of playing around.”

We are both correct.

My yelling is mostly reserved for morning getting-ready-to-go-to-school times.  I cannot understand, after all these years, why they still don’t get it that school mornings are not for reading, drawing, or playing with their toys. I really don’t get it. I can understand so many things about my kids’ behavior, and I have patience in most categories, but this not-getting-ready-in-the-morning phenomenon is taking me over the edge.

I know I am not alone in this struggle.  I have so many friends who say they yell as well. I don’t know if they are just being nice to me or if they really do.  I honestly cannot imagine a majority of them ever raising their voices to their children. Some of them, I am convinced, can’t raise their voice over a “loud talking voice”, because they are so darn sweet.  However, I’m inclined to trust them.

Now that I’m in my mid-40s, I tend to reflect a lot more on why I do what I do. While I’m a firm believer in letting go of the past and not blaming it for your current actions, I do know our pasts affect our futures.  So, what in my past could have led me to yelling at my kids, when it is truly not what I want to do?

Two things contributed to my current state of yelling.  First, my mom was a yeller. Whoa baby, could she scream at me!  I am sure, now that I’m adult looking back on it, that I deserved some of it. Really, why can’t kids just get ready?!?  I digress…

Second, I believe it’s the newsroom environment I was in for 20 years.  In those environments, you don’t stop to be polite.  Yelling, or even talking in a very curse and short manner, is a necessary evil.  Seriously, you try having 30 seconds to air, and having no video for your lead story and see how kind and gentle you speak to anyone.  In that environment, you weren’t polite, you were very direct and sometimes louder than the average person, and then after the show ended, you went out for beers together.  What a great way to be.  I’m being serious.  In those moments, we were all just ourselves.  We were a stressed, frustrated version of ourselves, but we just put it all out there, with our friendships intact. (for the most part)

Neither of those reasons should lead to me doing something that makes me… and my sweet girls… feel terrible.  I decided to do my research.  What am I doing to my kids when I yell?  The news is not good.

The University of Michigan teamed up with the University of Pittsburgh and found that yelling can be just as bad for kids as spanking or hitting.  Please know, I am not judging spanking your child, that is your business, but reading that made me pause.

I am including the link here. Read over what they found, and keep in mind a couple of things:

  1.  Less than 1000 families were involved in the study.
  2. They do not seem to distinguish between, “GIRLS! YOU ARE TAKING TOO LONG!” and “YOU ARE SO STUPID AND LAZY YOU CAN’T GET DRESSED IN UNDER 10 MINUTES!”  (Just for the record, I do the first one, not the second. I could never call my kids awful names.)

The New York Times also published an article on it, citing a study on yelling at kids as well.  One paragraph jumped out at me:

“We congratulate our toddlers for blowing their nose (“Good job!”), we friend our teenagers (literally and virtually), we spend hours teaching our elementary-school offspring how to understand their feelings. But, incongruously and with regularity, this is a generation that yells.”

In that article, it cited a journal whose study showed, out of the 991 families studied, 88% admit to yelling, shouting, or screaming at least once in the past year.  I wish I could say it was only once a year… and they don’t specify how much more per year those studied actually yelled.

So, what can us yellers do?

Years ago, I told the girls that if I scream, or if I cuss (oh, didn’t I mention that some of those words slip out? UGH! Really bad mom!), that I would pay them.  Even if I was screaming because they did something wrong, they got paid a dollar. Well, I didn’t keep that up. I don’t want to lose our home.

I need to figure this out.

I tried to Google some alternatives to yelling at them.  One link that was published in 2009 is no longer in existence.  My guess is the publisher realized how impossible it was to replace yelling when you are highly stressed or frustrated.

Seriously, there are some sites with good tips:
From Parent.com
From Mighty Mommy (I like #1.)
From Aha Parenting! (It’s like they were writing #7 for me.)

So, we have one more week of school, and then a summer of no yelling, and I mean that. We won’t HAVE to be somewhere. Those are the only times I really yell… when they aren’t getting ready to go… or getting ready for bed in enough time to get up for school.  Don’t get me wrong, I get mad or frustrated over other actions, but yelling is reserved for these special times.

In the next week, I’m going to try setting the oven timer for different intervals. 15 minutes to eat. DING!  15 minutes to get dressed and do hair and brush teeth. DING! When it goes off, if the given task isn’t done, the electronics are gone for that day. No discussion. That is my new idea for solving my really bad flaw.  I don’t know if it will work.  I don’t know if I’ll remember to set the timer, or if I do, I don’t know if I’ll remember why it’s going off.

If you have other ideas, please share!

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