How do I stop yelling??? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 36 Old 12-18-2007, 10:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I'm terribly ashamed of this, and it's time to try something different. My 3 y.o. and my 18 mos.o. dds are both at this developmental stage of doing what they want and not what I ask-plead-command-yell for them to do! I do pretty much everything myself of course and I do want them to come to me when I ask, for example. And they don't, and they do the opposite. All of this perfectly normal, naturally. It's my reaction that is not exactly what my AP ideas of mothering suggest I do! I yell! I tell them to "STOP IT!" And then I feel so guilty and so horrible about myself! Usually, that's when the day goes from being pretty good to awful because I've screwed up again!

How do you change your behaviour from what you really don't like to what is more in line with your values?

How do you stop yourself when you know you're going to go over the top any minute?

I mean, I do pretty much what I know works for me - leave the room for a moment, take a deep breath, say the serenity prayer (over and over again), but because the girls are close in age, these little things happen constantly it seems and there's not enough time to leave the room each time! And usually it's not untill a few successful response on my part that I snap - it's like I reach some kind of a threshold of tolerance! How do I increase my tolerance? I know I'm not a bad mother, generally, I do a damn good job... but recently, I'm not so sure that I know how to cope!

I hope to hear from you all!

Agnieszka

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#2 of 36 Old 12-18-2007, 10:03 PM
 
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I cannot tell you. Honestly I yell a lot too. I ask nicely about 2 million times but on time 2,000,001 I lose it. I get so tired of asking her to do what she should do naturally. If at the very least, not to do what she KNOWS she shouldn't.
I am reading and watching and hoping someone will respond with helpful advice!
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#3 of 36 Old 12-18-2007, 11:17 PM
 
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#4 of 36 Old 12-18-2007, 11:29 PM
 
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#5 of 36 Old 12-18-2007, 11:38 PM
 
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Agnieszka,

There are some wonderful books I could recommend. One is called 'The Dance of Anger' by Harriet Lerner. It's an amazing book that I read and re-read. It has so many under lines and highlights in it, I doubt anyone else could read it! Two other great ones you might try are called Transforming the Difficult Child by Howard Glasser & Jennifer Easley and Anger and the Indigo Child by Dianne Lancaster. I did some personal work with Dianne Lancaster and the biggest things I learned were when to separate a 'teaching moment' from a 'disciplining moment' and how to teach my daugther that anger is actually a healthy/positive emotion when used correctly to create change (not inflict harm). I can't say (by any stretch of the imagination) that I don't yell at all, but I truly feel I express my anger more appropriately than in the past.

I hope this helps!
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#6 of 36 Old 12-19-2007, 12:12 AM
 
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My best trick to keep from yelling--I whisper instead. Dd knows that, when I start whispering, I am really serious! It keeps me from yelling, and it also helps bring her "down" a bit, too....because she has to be a bit quieter to hear me
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#7 of 36 Old 12-19-2007, 12:18 AM
 
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This thread will help: https://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=379888


Pat

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#8 of 36 Old 12-19-2007, 12:42 AM
 
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my dd is 3 and ds 9 months. not so close in age as yours. it's definetly harder the closer they are together, unless you have a lot of help. my dd is very smart...i mean naughty smart and tests me and dh a lot, with a darling little smile on her face too. which makes it all the more enraging and yet endearing.
i noticed that when i would ask her to do something and she didn't listen and then i would yell, she would give me a look. like 'what just happened to you? how did you go from asking nicely and saying please to yelling and being angry.' i could see the confusion on her face.
i don't like discipline. i want our family to help eachother out of love and affection. so the wheels in my head began to turn.
i don't have it down perfectly, but my goal is set. that i will not punish my children, that we will learn to work together out of love and help and listen.
so now i ask with a please, the first time. then when she doesn't listen i say, 'mommy asked nice, if you don't listen i will get angry and i may not talk so nice, i may yell at you. can you please do what i ask.' about 90% of the time, when she has this warning she will say, 'ok mommy.' and do what i asked. when she doesn't listen and if i yell or stop her from what she's doing, she doesn't get as upset about it like she used to. she knew what was expected of her and she knew what the result would be ahead of time. i do the same thing with what our plans for the day are, or i give her a 5 minute warning before it's time to leave a friends house. somehow giving her that warning has really helped. and if i do something, like yell or i am just in a bad mood and i feel bad about how i may have treated her, i tell her. i'll say, 'mommy was grumpy (or i am tired and grumpy) and i shouldn't have yelled at you, i'm sorry. what should i do to make you feel better? should i get in time out?' sometimes i explain to her, 'sometimes when you are tired you act grumpy or if i do something you don't like, you get angry at me. mommy gets angry too.
usually i feel better because i've apologized and she also usually laughs if i say i'm going in timeout.
i think children know we're not perfect, but admitting it to them gives them some power.
ok, this was long and my ds needs me....
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#9 of 36 Old 12-19-2007, 12:42 PM
 
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Short and sweet advice: Start talking very clearly and enuniating every syllable when you talk normally. this make you have to concentrate on the every word you say and harder for a string of loud, angry words to spill out.

I did this and it really made it harder for me to yell things at all. Too much work!
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#10 of 36 Old 12-19-2007, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I find that if I don't express the anger somehow - and this is what I'm working on - I just get effin' resentful! So, I'm going to talk to my counsellor about this again after the holidays... in the meantime, I NEED time alone, basically I need to have time away. I NEED a timeout!
That's what I think will make it all easier to deal with all these normal behaviours... I think I just haven't taken enough time for myself...

I know I am a much better mama when I'm not burnt out myself.

Agnieszka

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#11 of 36 Old 12-20-2007, 12:22 AM
 
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Agnieszka, You'r absolutely right! Time for yourself will help, but I found it MUCH easier to raise my daughter as a single woman with a circle of strong women around me than I have as a married woman with a loving husband. He's a great dad, but women seem better 'tuned' to another woman's needs and knows when to step in before things get crazy. He doesn't know to step in until I'm nearly ready to leap from the closest bridge.

I don't know if you belong to a women's circle, but it can be amazingly healing!
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#12 of 36 Old 12-20-2007, 01:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post
My best trick to keep from yelling--I whisper instead. Dd knows that, when I start whispering, I am really serious! It keeps me from yelling, and it also helps bring her "down" a bit, too....because she has to be a bit quieter to hear me
I do this too. I whisper. Not only does it really help calm me down but the kids have to stop yelling at each other or "fighting" me and listen really listen to hear what I am saying.
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#13 of 36 Old 12-21-2007, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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it's absolutely true. we just had a massive blowout because I asked him to help me when I was at my wits end - too late, really - and he couldn't because of work... well, I lost it. told him to get lost. he didn't, we worked it out, but it was awful, to feel like no one absolutely no one gives a damn about me and my needs. and all i'm constantly trying to do is figure out what everyone else needs and wants! I have been feeling so effed over (I hope it's okay to say that)! I don't have a support group, unfortunately. a couple of women friends who don't seem to need help, ever... it's like i'm a weirdo or something.

anyway. just trying to sort out the anger and stop feeling like the kids re doing me in. i do NOT believe that for a second. but my feelings are hard to dismiss. i can hardly believe I am this angry!

it'll pass, it'll pass, it'll pass.

right?

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#14 of 36 Old 12-21-2007, 06:55 PM
 
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Agnieszka,

We've all been there! Our society 'trains' women to focus on others wants and needs while ignoring our own. The anger won't pass until you work through it (remember the old saying and now country song "If you're going through hell, keep on going"?). If you can get your hands on 'The Dance of Anger' by Harriett Lerner it will give you some GREAT tips and pointers. Ms. Lerner is a feminist and she astutely points out in the beginning of the book that even our swear words are all negative females references (think about it!).

I'm working now on looking at my dd as a gifted teacher here to teach me how to be a better mom and person rather than as someone created to push all my buttons! Let me tell you, she teaches me daily!

I JUST found a new (hopefully fabulous...I'll keep you informed) support group in my new state right here by going to the tribe area. It's broken down by regions of the country. I posted requesting anyone in my area and got a wonderful reply from an AP group of moms! Please try to do the same. I would love for you to have strong, beautiful women around you to support and love you through this! You DESERVE it!
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#15 of 36 Old 12-22-2007, 12:58 AM
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Originally Posted by meaghann View Post
Short and sweet advice: Start talking very clearly and enuniating every syllable when you talk normally. this make you have to concentrate on the every word you say and harder for a string of loud, angry words to spill out.

I did this and it really made it harder for me to yell things at all. Too much work!
You just made me realize that I do this too. Teachers do it, (because good teachers don't yell at their students) and I did it when I taught. Now I am doing it with my kids.

But, I did yell today. It's like the OP says, sometimes you can have 100 perfect responses in a row to their behavior, and then the 101st time you lose it!
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#16 of 36 Old 12-22-2007, 05:16 PM
 
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I yelled today too. I've been doing so much better though.

One thing I read that I'm trying hard to remember is this. Instead of focusing on changing for good, focus on your next interaction. Make that a relationship builder.

It has been really helping me to focus only on what is happening at that moment.
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#17 of 36 Old 12-22-2007, 05:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by madhavi View Post
so now i ask with a please, the first time. then when she doesn't listen i say, 'mommy asked nice, if you don't listen i will get angry and i may not talk so nice, i may yell at you. can you please do what i ask.' about 90% of the time, when she has this warning she will say, 'ok mommy.' and do what i asked. when she doesn't listen and if i yell or stop her from what she's doing, she doesn't get as upset about it like she used to. she knew what was expected of her and she knew what the result would be ahead of time. i do the same thing with what our plans for the day are, or i give her a 5 minute warning before it's time to leave a friends house. somehow giving her that warning has really helped. and if i do something, like yell or i am just in a bad mood and i feel bad about how i may have treated her, i tell her. i'll say, 'mommy was grumpy (or i am tired and grumpy) and i shouldn't have yelled at you, i'm sorry. what should i do to make you feel better? should i get in time out?' sometimes i explain to her, 'sometimes when you are tired you act grumpy or if i do something you don't like, you get angry at me. mommy gets angry too.....
I like this idea - the explanation beforehand. I am going to start doing that....
I have apologized afterward when I have lost it after the 100th time of asking my DD to do something, or when she purposely looks right at me while doing the thing I have asked her NOT to do...
I agree, they need to know we are human and we get grumpy/angry/make mistakes too...

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#18 of 36 Old 12-23-2007, 04:49 AM
 
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#19 of 36 Old 12-23-2007, 07:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by madhavi View Post
my dd is 3 and ds 9 months. not so close in age as yours. it's definetly harder the closer they are together, unless you have a lot of help. my dd is very smart...i mean naughty smart and tests me and dh a lot, with a darling little smile on her face too. which makes it all the more enraging and yet endearing.
i noticed that when i would ask her to do something and she didn't listen and then i would yell, she would give me a look. like 'what just happened to you? how did you go from asking nicely and saying please to yelling and being angry.' i could see the confusion on her face.
i don't like discipline. i want our family to help eachother out of love and affection. so the wheels in my head began to turn.
i don't have it down perfectly, but my goal is set. that i will not punish my children, that we will learn to work together out of love and help and listen.
so now i ask with a please, the first time. then when she doesn't listen i say, 'mommy asked nice, if you don't listen i will get angry and i may not talk so nice, i may yell at you. can you please do what i ask.' about 90% of the time, when she has this warning she will say, 'ok mommy.' and do what i asked. when she doesn't listen and if i yell or stop her from what she's doing, she doesn't get as upset about it like she used to. she knew what was expected of her and she knew what the result would be ahead of time. i do the same thing with what our plans for the day are, or i give her a 5 minute warning before it's time to leave a friends house. somehow giving her that warning has really helped. and if i do something, like yell or i am just in a bad mood and i feel bad about how i may have treated her, i tell her. i'll say, 'mommy was grumpy (or i am tired and grumpy) and i shouldn't have yelled at you, i'm sorry. what should i do to make you feel better? should i get in time out?' sometimes i explain to her, 'sometimes when you are tired you act grumpy or if i do something you don't like, you get angry at me. mommy gets angry too.
usually i feel better because i've apologized and she also usually laughs if i say i'm going in timeout.
i think children know we're not perfect, but admitting it to them gives them some power.
ok, this was long and my ds needs me....
Oh, I do this too. I say, "Brodie, I am getting angry because I asked you nicely 3 times and you didn't do it. Please, please, pick up your toothbrush off the floor and put it in the bathroom. We don't eat clam chowder with our toothbrush." or "Brodie, mommy doesn't want to yell. Please stop screaming at the top of your lungs, you are scaring your brother, see how he's crying."...or "Brodie, mommy is feeling frustrated because I don't like cleaning up an entire tub of butter off the stove. Please come and ask mommy to help you pour stuff or wait until I'm done nursing Turner and I'll be happy to help you." It doesn't always work, but I always feel better when I do this as opposed to yelling, although I admit I can scream pretty good when at my limit but I remind myself that he's just being a normal 3 year old and its not fair just to yell at him beause I'm feeling incabable at the moment.

Or how about this one, "Brodie, its really not nice to close the cat in the dresser and forget he's in there. Poor kitty. Lets not close the drawers on kitty anymroe, okay?" Isn't it amazing what you find yourself saying these days? ha ha ha
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#20 of 36 Old 12-23-2007, 09:20 AM
 
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I used to ask my child to do things. But what really worked for me was telling him, in a polite, serene, matter of fact way. When you ask them to do something you sound as if you are giving them a choice not to do it (when there really isn't a choice there.)

I just changed: Can you brush your teeth? To: It's time to brush your teeth or You can brush your teeth now or You may brush your teeth.

It made an instant difference (although I only have one so far and he was a little older at the time : 3 1/2 y) I got the advice from his teacher a woman whom I deeply respect for her loving guidance of children. That's what I want to accomplish with my child: loving guidance.

But I've yelled too. I still get angry sometimes, but I always try to remember to treat him the way I'd want to be treated.

Remember you're human! And even the most wonderful mommies loose their cool sometimes.

Breeder Mama: = wife to an amazing man + mama to J-Bear (07/02) and E-Train (06/08), nanny to Little Bird (07/10).

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#21 of 36 Old 12-23-2007, 01:44 PM
 
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2 great books: Liberated Children, Liberated Parents by Mazlish and Faber, and Easy to Love: Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey. These books are more about learning to control yourself than your kids (in a positive way!). There is alot of very real and raw stuff about anger in the first one.

Good Luck!
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#22 of 36 Old 12-23-2007, 11:43 PM
 
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I used to ask my child to do things. But what really worked for me was telling him, in a polite, serene, matter of fact way. When you ask them to do something you sound as if you are giving them a choice not to do it (when there really isn't a choice there.)

I just changed: Can you brush your teeth? To: It's time to brush your teeth or You can brush your teeth now or You may brush your teeth.

It made an instant difference (although I only have one so far and he was a little older at the time : 3 1/2 y) I got the advice from his teacher a woman whom I deeply respect for her loving guidance of children. That's what I want to accomplish with my child: loving guidance.

But I've yelled too. I still get angry sometimes, but I always try to remember to treat him the way I'd want to be treated.

Remember you're human! And even the most wonderful mommies loose their cool sometimes.

I try and remember to do this. I does work wonders!
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#23 of 36 Old 12-24-2007, 01:27 AM
 
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I used to ask my child to do things. But what really worked for me was telling him, in a polite, serene, matter of fact way. When you ask them to do something you sound as if you are giving them a choice not to do it (when there really isn't a choice there.)


I just changed: Can you brush your teeth? To: It's time to brush your teeth or You can brush your teeth now or You may brush your teeth.
:

Sometimes I add to this a gentle 'steering' in the direction of whatever I want him to do. DS is 18 mos and actions still mean more than wordsat this point.

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#24 of 36 Old 01-01-2008, 01:33 PM
 
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Right now I use a system of 3 steps. The first step is to calmly tell him to pick up his toy that he has thrown or whatever. The second step is to repeat w/ more vigor. The third step is even stronger w/ a loud clap to snap him out of whatever he's doing. I still yell, but it's usually when I'm very tired.
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#25 of 36 Old 01-01-2008, 02:16 PM
 
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I am going to bump the thread that was suggested in post # 7 - thank you WuWei. There is some great stuff in it !
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#26 of 36 Old 01-01-2008, 09:31 PM
 
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It's nice to see other mom's dealing with this. I always thought of myself as a person with a long slow-burning fuse, and can't quite understand how it got so short w/ my nearly 3 ds. I can be a real yeller, enough to scare the dog, dh, ds, and myself, whew. I was feeling at my wit's end--needed help to "stop", feeling guilty, etc. I could identify when it was worse, during times of stress. And I've tried all the things mentioned here, except the whispering. Announcing that the anger is on the way seems to do nothing. Ds doesn't like to pick up toys to move on to a new game, he says, "you do it," and when I suggest we do it together he says no. I've resorted to threatening to throw away x set of toys, or putting them away. We have a high shelf in the kitchen that is growing cluttered with these toys...sigh. Obviously not working. The worst aspect of this is that it happens mostly when we are alone. And that's when it's the worst, so I know it's very wrong. All this when he is the sweetest kid ever and we normally get along wonderfully. When I really lose it, ds asks me to pick him up and cuddle him, at the peak of my rage. It amazes me and really helps me cool down, but it's frightening, too. I don't want him to be placed in this position.
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#27 of 36 Old 01-02-2008, 01:34 AM
 
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Joining the ranks of yelling mama who wants to stop!

Recapping options:

1. whisper
2. be clear about what you want.
3. give them easy directions that get you what you want (not requests)
4. apologize afterward (which I'm on the fence about - I think it IS right to let them know we are human and make mistakes, but unless we are really not going to do it next time, apologies don't mean much, kwim? I grew up w/a yelling mom who would tell me how human she was all the time, and it got annoying and I learned only to ditrust her.)
5. Enunciate!

and from the other thread Pat led us to (thank you Pat!)

6. STOP! What are you feeling (anger, what ELSE?)? Don't judge whether it is ok to feel this way, just OBSERVE that this is what you are feeling. What do you NEED in that red hot moment? Quiet? Space? Love? Understanding? Cooperation? Now go get it!
7. recharge before it's too late! Take a 10 min. time out and breathe, stretch, do something physical (chop wood, shovel dirt or snow, clean out the car (or some of it lol!), etc.
8. establish patterns that work for you. Cleaning bedrooms before bathtime, all toys away before dinner, etc. Try flylady.com for ideas.
9. pick your battles
10. have a keepsafe - a small rock, crystal, or token in your pocket to remind you of what you WANT in that red hot moment (what DID you want?)
11. redirect redirect redirect.
12. make sure you are happy with most of the rest of your life - your sex life, your productivity, your spirituality need to be taken care of before you will have enough energy to successfully take care of anyone else.
13. Be in the present: if you are wanting to be somewhere else, or doing something else, it's going to be harder than normal to be patient.
14. Let go of needing your children to be anything but what they are. They will never embarrass you or make you out to be what you aren't (ie: a bad mother) because their honesty, goodness and loved-ness will SHINE because you trust them, know them, and love them no matter what.
15. eat good food with regularity.
16. Sleep whenever you can or need to. Bring the kids, lock the bedroom door, and sleep.
17. it's not our job to be "perfect" as mothers but simply to be fully present with our children (and partners)
18. Not should, but WILL, or don't like, or I'm letting go of... Should implies you did it WRONG. There is no wrong, only little lessons that take us further along the path.
19. Be aware of yourself - are you hungry, tired, overstimulated, stressed, hormonal? Take care of these and then deal with the rest.
20. Find humor in the situation: is it funny that she is wearing her pajamas unside down? that he's running around naked playing air guitar with his schmeckle? that she needs 14 teddies and her stuffed lizard to be able to sleep in bed at night? Kinda. So laugh a little, tell them you love them and are close to imploding, and say goodnight. you'll check on them. You'll be back in a few minutes and if they're in bed you'll read to them. Whatever you need to do. A touch of humor can go a loooong way to difusing a potentially violent (as in yelling) situation.
21. make contact with your child(ren). Eye, body, etc.
22. stop what you are doing. make them the most important thing in that moment.
23. keep your point short and sweet.
24. no means no. don't repeat yourself.
25. Have FUN with your family! Every relationship should have a fun element to it - take pleasure in each other's company.
26. natural child website

And a few from me.

1. PMS. 3 days before and 2 days after my period I'm a real she-bear! I'm grumpier, need more sleep, chocolate, and love than any other time of the ... month lol! Being aware of this helps me, I take some herbal supplements to help me w/my lower levels of patience.

2. TV is not all bad. I use it to give myself a bit of a breather. Sometimes I use it more than I like, some days more than others, but I have learned that if I do use it, not to beat myself up over it. At all.

3. Do things in parallel - esp. good for littles under 5. Color - on separate pages. Read - different books. Dig - your own sand traps. It's ok to NOT do every single thing for them, or even with them.
4. Whenever possible, let them work out their differences. Give them a peaceful space to do this. Give them boundaries (no name calling, use the person's actual name etc.) and let them work it out. They will learn to both appreciate and respect each other in a way that YOU solving their problems will never do for them.

5. Cook ahead as much as possible. Chop up onions on the weekends, and keep them in the fridge. Onions make eggs, potatoes, tofu, and many other foods a meal.

6. Get OUT. Take a walk, bundle up, just get OUT. It will really help!

7. Make plans. Looking forward to things is a wonderful way to get through the day.

8. Join a club or circle or group. Book club, women's circle, or writing group - doesn't much matter. It's something for you about you and keeps you going.

9. Treat yourself once in a while! A mani or pedicure, a babysitter, a new pair of shoes. It doesn't have to be super expensive (a new pair of flip flops will seriously make me HAPPY), but once every 4 mos or more frequently if you can afford it, it makes a HUGE difference.

10. Look into your insurance - mine will pay for up to 6 massages a year, and several chiro visits as well (with a co-pay). These are a wonderful way to relax your day and give you something to look forward to!

11. Are you and are your children eating well for YOU? make sure you aren't allergic or reacting to your food.

12. CST/Chiro is a wonderful way to realign your body and mind.

13. Find a friend, get together, share war stories. I find it is so empowering to find a woman and share stories. Listening and offering empathy, maybe a word of advice, and getting the same in return is amazing. I had to really break out of a shell to find someone like that here, but once I did I really felt SO much better about myself! It made me yell less often because I could feel the 'virtual' support of my friend saying - yeah, wow, that would make me angry too! So, what do you need to do to deal with it w/out yelling? It SO helped!

14. BREATHE. Seriously. Yelling is pushing air OUT. Take in deep breathes and you are less likely to push it out with a yell.

Ok, I'm going to print this all out and put it on my fridge. I feel better having put it together, and hope it helps someone else, too!

Oh, wanted to list some of the books that were mentioned:

Liberated children, liberated parents by Mazlish and Faber
Easy to love:difficult to discipline by Becky Bailey
Scream Free Parenting
Dance of Anger
How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk

and some movie in German that sounded pretty good!

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#28 of 36 Old 01-02-2008, 01:01 PM
 
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4. apologize afterward (which I'm on the fence about - I think it IS right to let them know we are human and make mistakes, but unless we are really not going to do it next time, apologies don't mean much, kwim? I grew up w/a yelling mom who would tell me how human she was all the time, and it got annoying and I learned only to ditrust her.)
Wow mamabeca, thanks for your great post with lots of ideas and resources. I have been thinking about the statement made above and wanted to add a comment or idea. I can see it being problematic to apologize coupled with promising never to do it again. I totally agree.

I just wanted to share some thoughts on how I've been handling the situation. (Just musing on my own approach and how to tweak it.) When I am aware I've gone overboard and put on the breaks, I tell dd or dh that I am aware that I've gone overboard, need a moment to calm down, and take the time to do so. I make statements about how I'm going to diffuse, deescalate, change and improve the situation RIGHT NOW, in the present. I comment on why I've lost it (HALT, etc.) and what I should have done to handle the situation differently or better. This keeps the situation focussed and specific, not global.

I myself know I could NEVER promise with ANY credibility or integrity NEVER to lose it again. Unfortunately this (anger) is a big trigger for me that I am determined to get worked out, get ahold of, and improve on, not repeating patterns from my upbringing. It continues to be a long battle for me to reprogram myself and I realistically will continue to have regressions at times, but I think in the long run it is better for me to be able to say, "Whoa. Just a minute. This is not going well. I apologize, I shouldn't talk to you that way. I need to take a minute to calm down. I'm sorry I scared you (or whatever)."

Never in a million years would my father apologize after hitting, beating or raging verbally at us for more than an hour at a time. I wish he had been able to say sorry or acknowledge that what he did made us feel bad. (Believe me, we've been around this block a few times when I was in therapy, and I tried over many years to talk with him about it. ) This is one positive improvement I think I can make - apologizing COUPLED WITH statements about what needs to change and putting it into action.

What was it about your mother's approach that made you mistrust her? With her apology was there an unspoken expectation that you accept her behaviour without her needing to change? What do you think about her efforts to deal with the behaviours she had that were troubling but human?

Sorry for being long-winded. Just sharing some of my thoughts that were triggered by your post. Thanks for your wonderful post.


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#29 of 36 Old 01-02-2008, 01:19 PM
 
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Hmm - well, I can't actually remember my mother apologizing. I can remember one time she hit my brother and completely trashed his bedroom for hours, all over a chocolate bar, and when I was upset with her (I hadn't been home, and when I got home he was a sobbing mess and it was pretty much over, poor little dude), she said "Well I'm ONLY HUMAN!" which was her way of saying 1. accept me for what I am 2. take it or leave it and 3. if you want sorry you'll never hear that from me, but I will admit that it wasn't the BEST behaviour in the world - without ever actually SAYING that.

I've never gone there w/my kids, and I HAVE apologised to them when I go overboard (usually around AF, when I'm tired, or not getting my needs met in other ways). And like you I try to brainstorm WITH THEM, present and participating, what I could have done differently. One time my dd (9.5 now) said "yk mom, last time this happened we said you were going to talk a walk. Why don't you go now and I'll watch Ori (who was about 2). So I did! I took a walk around the block (about 6 mins) and they were fine, playing with cars when I got back. The situation was diffused, the anger dissipated, and things went smoothly. My little angel. Sometimes. :eyeroll

I guess promises to me mean that you are doing your very very best never to do that thing again - whether it's hurt someone's feelings, taking things that don't belong to you, or yelling - there are lots of ways of hurting people, and promising not to do something and then DOING IT over and over, well, it's really hurtful. So I guess my fence sitting is that I don't trust MYSELF to get better at controlling my anger? Or maybe that I want my kids to really trust my word, and the probability that I will slip up with this means to me that it's a bad place to make promises? Huh. I'm out of ideas I think...

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#30 of 36 Old 01-02-2008, 01:50 PM
 
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4. apologize afterward (which I'm on the fence about - I think it IS right to let them know we are human and make mistakes, but unless we are really not going to do it next time, apologies don't mean much, kwim?
I don't think an apology is meaningless unless we really never yell again. I won't promise my kids that I'll never yell again, because this is something that's hard for me and I can't guarantee I won't. But I do apologize, and I do talk to them about how hard this is for me and how it really isn't right for me to yell, and I do commit to making an honest diligent effort to do better. This commitment is very important. And I think one other important thing that makes a difference is making amends. I think you're right that apology alone isn't quite enough, we need to make that commitment to work at doing better and we need to make amends. I yelled, and I can't go back and un-yell, but I can say "okay, I handled that very badly. I'm sorry I scared you. Let's have a do-over/let's try that again/let me calm down and we'll work this out without yelling." Or whatever it is that seems right in the making amends department that day, given the people involved.

But I hear ya, it does feel kind of...icky...to verbally make that commitment to you kids and then blow it. But that, too, is part of learning that people are human and people make mistakes-I think it's okay, and even good, for kids to see that change isn't always as simple as saying "right, I'm never going to do that again" and that people aren't perfect. I think that when we're gentle with ourselves and not beating ourselves up over the mistakes we make, and we're sincerely committed to doing better and give ourselves time to grow, then we will do better. And I think that when we do better, our kids will see us doing better, and they'll know our words of apology aren't empty.
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