The Super Whites The ordinary life of a Super Mum

The Super Whites
Stop and smile
One of my favourite bloggers, Kate at Picklebums, wrote an excellent post recently about how to stop yelling at your kids. Go over here to her blog and read. Then come back. Ok? Are you back now? Her post really resonated with me.
I never used to be a yeller. I don’t remember ever really having to shout at Amy when she was a toddler. Of course I raised my voice at her if she was doing something dangerous or she wasn’t paying attention, but I never really shouted. I don’t remember shouting in anger.  I don’t really know what has changed over the last year, a younger sister who doesn’t listen, a laptop, less sleep. A combination of things mean I am quicker to yell than I ever have been.
Its a horrible feeling that Kate described so perfectly, I quote “It doesn’t have to be something major to set me off and in the beginning it feels quite good to yell. It feels good to let it out. It feels like this is the only way I can get my message across, the only way I can regain some control. When I begin shouting I feel powerful and totally justified.”
This is almost exactly how I feel when I shout. Both children look at me and my raised voice has their attention for that brief moment and then the connection is lost and all they hear is my VOICE not my intention, which isn’t to scare them, just to stop them from doing whatever it is they are busy with.
Of course a side-effect of me shouting is that I now get ino shouting matches with my five year old. I raise my voice, she raises hers, I raise mine higher to denote my status, she raises hers higher to indicate her complete denial of my status. Its not pretty. I am not proud. I know what my triggers are. When I am tired, or its the end of a long day, especially when it comes to food and meal times. Amy has a knack for asking me for something really important to her, when I have just finished washing up, wiping down the kitchen and have sat down with my cup of tea.
Its times like that when I can’t understand why I would shout at her? She is not deliberately waiting for me to sit down, she is a child, her intentions are purely in the moment and not derived from a power struggle or a place of manipulation. And yet what lessons I am teaching her, when someone won’t listen to you, SHOUT. When you can’t get your point across, SHOUT. This is not how I behave in my adult life, why is it becoming a pattern of behaviour in my parenting life?
Last night I couldn’t sleep. Ron was out at a stag-do (bucks night) and I had slept in that morning and just didn’t feel like going to bed. I sat up and watched an episode of Oprah from her last season, the premise of the show was something along the lines of “Greatest moments” and there was one segment that absolutely struck a chord with me. Call it an Oprah, aha moment if you will! Oprah was sitting down with renowned author Toni Morrison who was asking all parents if their faces light up when their children enter the room? She went on to describe how when her children were little and they came into the room, she would look at them with a parent’s critical eye, are their trousers done up, are they dressed warmly enough? Thinking that your children can see the deep love you have for them is not enough, instead of seeing those emotions reflected on your face, they see your critical face. Toni urged parents to let your face show what is in your heart and so when your child walks into the room, or comes to show you something, show them those real feelings in your eyes and in your smile.
So today after I started the morning shouting at Amy for something so trivial and insignificant and then felt so dreadful and guilty afterwards, I knew something needed to change. And you know what, looking up and smiling at her when she calls me or asks me something makes her face light up and there is honestly nothing quite so heartwarming as making your child smile with joy just by looking at them, don’t you agree?
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11 Responses to Stop and smile

  1. Fe says:

    Oh this resonates so strongly with me too.

    I am a yeller. I really am. i YELL when I’m excited (watching the rugby, hearing exciting news!) and I yell when I feel frustrated and that I’m not being heard.

    It IS a learned trait, in my case anyway. I come from a family of yellers. And I find it very VERY hard to change this.

    What I CAN do, is to only yell for that first reaction. And then my voice goes way down. And that’s when I get my boys’ attention.

    Of course all bets are off when i’ve got PMT, sleep-deprivation, family court etc. But mostly my yelling is over very very quickly.

    I’m not an Oprah fan, but I consciously (and now not so consciously) ALWAYS give a “Squeeee!” and a hug and a “I LOVE you” when I see my boys. Whether they’ve been out of the house on a 10 minute errand, or are coming home from school. Both boys ALWAYS say “I love you Mum” spontaniously and when we’re saying goodby….. even if he’s closing the car door so that I can get into the parking space and I will be out of the car and with them in a nano-second.

    I guess I started doing it because I was so depressed when they were little (har.. I’m saying it like it’s gone away… sheesh) and I was really aware that I spent a lot of time crying around them. I was also really aware of how judgemental and cruel their father was (still is) to them on his weekend visits.

    So I started forcing myself to behave as though seeing them was the brightest moment in my day… and it became true. Absolutely true. My heart SOARS when they come home from school/their Dad’s / anywhere. And they know it 🙂

    Sorry for the long comment. As I said at the beginning, this has really resonated with me. I LOVE that my boys know how loved they are. They have so much crap in their lives, but they know without doubt (because i show them and tell them 100 times a day still) that they are my sunshine.

    Fe recently posted..some answers..My ComLuv Profile

  2. katepickle says:

    oh yes!! What a total ‘aha’ moment! That is a really great ‘positive first response’… if my plan is every time I want to yell I should stop and look at my children with as much love as I feel for them, then I am totally less likely to loose my shizzle and rant and rave! Perfect! Thanks for sharing… and I am glad I am not alone in with my yelling confession 🙂
    katepickle recently posted..Links – Kids Dress-ups to MakeMy ComLuv Profile

  3. Kierna says:

    Hi, Thanks for sharing this. I am a teacher of 3-4 year olds and not a mum, but this has made me think about how I look to the children when they say my name or call for my attention. I know I have snapped ‘yes’ when it’s been a bad day or a long week – this will make me consider how a smile on my face when I respond to that little one may make a big difference.
    Kierna recently posted..Outdoor block play – what I see….My ComLuv Profile

  4. Trish says:

    Another reluctant shame filled yeller here. I want to change too. Thanks for your honesty Sarah , Kate& Fe too. Some days I go to bed feeling so terrible and wondering what they did to deserve me for a mother.
    Glad to have a few new options .

  5. Jenny says:

    I was relieved to read this and know that I am not alone! After 4 kids, crazy work schedule, I often find that I am much less patient than ever and resort to yelling to just get my kids to listen. There are no excuses for taking my frustrations and stress out on the ones that need me the most. Today is a new day…a day where I take a deep breath before I raise my voice and maybe, just maybe we can all make a difference!

  6. Kate says:

    Oh wow, great post, and yes, definitely. I yell a lot. Mr 2.5 is so selective with his hearing that sometimes I feel it’s the only way to go. And that release of tension after I’ve done it… So nice, but I don’t think I’d feel nice if someone yelled at me that way. I’m going to try to smile more.
    Kate recently posted..What do James Taylor and Bruno Mars have in common?My ComLuv Profile

  7. Joani says:

    Closet yeller here too. I can proudly say that I began smiling more and yelling less, even when I was not inclined to do so, and it has made a huge improvement in my relationship with my 8 year old. I wish I could say that I am consistently nice and not harsh, but unfortunately that would not be true. Still working on it. I also find myself superficially “nice” to strangers and friends and then mean and nasty to my own family. Still working on that too. Thanks for sharing, what a great post.

  8. seraphimsp says:

    Really like the practical steps you’ve given here. Toni makes such a good point doesn’t she? Nobody pushes my buttons like my children, but nobody loves them like me either. So amazing and frustrating at the same time.
    seraphimsp recently posted..Lazy or just relaxed?My ComLuv Profile

  9. Shae says:

    This post has really hit a nerve with me. Thanks so much 🙂

  10. Ali says:

    I try not to yell, I’m not a huge yeller but it happens sometimes, some days are worse than others. I always feel sad about it afterwards. I saw an episode of Oprah years ago talking about the same thing. I have found since then that the line pops into my head at strange moments, I try very hard to live this for all of the kids. It’s a good reminder.
    Ali recently posted..I might have the stupidest injury I’ve ever heard of but that’s okay.My ComLuv Profile

  11. Rosie says:

    I have used “looking at the kids with love when they call my name” and it has already worked wonders with both my little girl and I.
    I feel happier when I act happy, even if I have to fake it, I do make it. I have also been counting to 10 before responding with a yell. (I must admit – when I read your post the first time, I went away so enthused but then the next day had a great old yell over something I can not even recall now!
    I really need to reflect on what triggers the agro (both mine and hers).
    Thanks for the great post!

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