Everyone has a boiling point. Everyone gets frustrated. Even the best of moms lose it sometimes. I’ll admit it, I have been a mom who yells.
A couple weeks ago, I found myself hosting mommy summer camp with a sick baby and two other whinny ones. I knew we were stuck in the house and I was frustrated. It was beautiful out. My big kids wanted to go to the pool and so did I. The baby was really sick and only wanted to be held. My bigger kids were fighting with each other over every. little. thing. The oldest was whiny.
And then…Little Man spilled water all over his shirt. I told him not to worry it would dry. He was so whinny about his shirt being wet and he was pulling it and stretching it out. I totally lost it. I yelled. AND, I basically ripped the shirt off of his head taking half his face with it. I over reacted. I scared him. I actually scared myself.
It isn’t something that makes me proud. Actually, I am ashamed to admit that I did this. Most days I have more patience. There are no excuses. I just hope that this isn’t one of the memories that sticks.
Little Man went upstairs to change his shirt crying. I was teary. I couldn’t believe I yelled to the point of scaring him. What was wrong with me? Was this the type of mother I wanted to be? Just because everything was going wrong, just because I was stressed, did that make it OK? Did that make it better?
The simple answer is NO.
Now, what to do about it. I can’t just sit here and whine and complain. I am not going to accept that sometimes we just reach our breaking points (although it is true). I want to be better. I gave it a lot of thought and here is my attack plan and the results over the last few weeks:
1. Siblings fight, but you can fight back!
Yes, yes they do. I want them to be best mates, but as it turns out this doesn’t always work. Instead of getting frustrated or involved. I have have done two things: 1. ignore them until is either sounds like someone might get hurt or the noise level is too much to bear. They often work it out–one way or another. 2. If it gets out of hand, punish them together. I made a new rule. You can’t get along? Then you both have to sit on the stairs — and hold hands. It is the holding hands that really gets them.
2. I am not telling you more than once.
This is a big frustration for me. So I formed my attack plan. I tell them and make sure they are looking at me (in the eyes!). This way, there is no reason they ‘didn’t hear me.’ Then I praise them for doing it right the first time. Just a simple thank you (again, looking them in the eyes) and maybe an I love you or Good Job. IF they don’t do as asked and a few minutes have past, then they are punished and the punishment fits the crime. Can’t pick up your toys when asked? They go on a high shelf for the rest of the day. Can’t decide what shoes to put on so we can leave the house? Mommy picks. You get the idea.
3. Who’s on first?
This is a HUGE problem in my house. Someone needs to be first to get in the car, out of the car, or go in the front door. If it is not being first then it is which color plate they get, which water bottle, etc. And if they don’t get what they feel like they deserve…its not fair. Somehow it is my problem to make it ‘fair.’ Well kiddos, life isn’t fair. Buck up. So I have started to say: You get what you get and you don’t get upset. And it works! We repeat regularly and so far there has been less whining over who gets what.
4. Take that show on the road.
My kids can be loud. Little Man loves to sing and often gets songs stuck in his head. It drives me crazy. I must tell him to stop a million times a day and I feel a little guilty about it. I read this somewhere (I wish I could find it again to link to) and decided I would give it a try. After listening to it once or twice, I ask him to take that show on the road (aka, if you want to keep singing, go somewhere else!). This is a maybe for me, because he tends to sing the most at dinner and I can’t exactly tell him to go elsewhere then! Its a work in progress.
5. I can’t understand you.
Kids whine. They forget to say please or thank you. They speak to their parents rudely. Frankly, I’m not going to stand for it anymore! Anytime one of these things happen, I simply say: I can’t understand you when you speak like that OR Try asking again. This has been the most successful of my tips. My kids are getting the hang of it AND they are remembering before I say anything.
These experiments have really helped me over the last few weeks to gain control and maintain my cool. I don’t yell often, but there is always room for improvement. Thinking about my trigger points and coming up with ways to mitigate them has really helped me.
I think the most important lesson that I have learned over the years is to stick to my guns and always follow through. Your kids need to know that you mean business. I think that is part of the reason why these changes were easy for me to implement and that they worked so well. My kids know I mean what I say and although they test me every once in awhile, they know when they are crossing a line. It is never too late for follow through…kids adapt quickly!
I hope these tips can help you or someone you know!
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