I’m a quiet person. At least I was before I had kids. Before my little sweet ones skipped across my radar screen, I am fairly certain that I never once yelled at another person. In fact, I was the opposite, very soft spoken and someone that others asked to speak up in order to hear what I was saying.
Then, it happened.
Slowly, really. As my children began to outnumber me and figure out that strength comes in threes, I began to realize that I could carry on an entire life-lesson-monologue by myself in which not one child was listening.
My tactics of being direct and honest did not faze the small people that occupied my home. Telling my son that hitting the dog with a stick was not a wise choice suddenly became much more difficult when he saw his little brother doing it behind my back as he was being lectured.
And so it began.
The first time I really yelled at my children—I mean really yelled—I remember coughing for nearly ten minutes afterwards. My throat was so dry and unused to such displays, that my body actually reacted against it. This is where I’d love to tell you that I decided in that moment that yelling was not effective, but alas . . .
No, my yelling went on for years actually. Gaining strength as the days went by, and power as my frustration grew.
Until one day I realized that I yelled at my children more than I spoke to them.
It was during one of the most frustrating periods of my life—a job loss, an identity crisis, and financial uncertainty left me with little strength to hold onto each day. And it wasn’t long before I understood that my only means of venting had become my children.
I was so taken aback by my realization, that I dropped them off at school one day, and cried the entire trip home in shame. The most upsetting point was that it wasn’t even them that I was angry with. There was nothing they were doing that warranted anger. The feeling I was unsuccessfully tackling was: frustration.
As I began to watch other moms around me, I saw it in them as well. Deeply seeded frustration from whatever was going on in their lives, being thrown towards their children in anger. And I knew that I must stop.
If you’re a yeller, I want you to as well.
Why We Shouldn’t Yell
It’s ineffective. Admit it. While yelling may get your child to perform what you want them to at that precise moment, all it teaches them is “this is how far I can go before I have to do something.” It works against us more than it works for us.
It builds walls. Young motherhood can be a frustrating time in our lives in which it is difficult to see the bigger picture. We think we have all the time in the world to spend with our kids. We mistakenly believe that over the long haul, the small things we do will wash out in the end—but they don’t. A parent who yells becomes a parent that a child hides things from in order to avoid an attack. Teaching your child that you will control them no matter what, will only lead to you losing complete control of them a few years down the road. We need to respect our children no matter what age they are.
We are directed not to. The Bible specifically warns parents against frustrating their children. Ephesians 6:4 says “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Our Father chooses to parent us through wise discipline that encourages growth and learning. We should do the same.
Why We are so Upset
Are you multitasking? The biggest lie ever spouted to moms is the myth of multitasking. While it is possible to do more than one thing at a time, it is not possible to do both well. Are you trying to accomplish too much, or expecting your children to? Look at your situation and give it some perspective. Do you need to focus on your kids completely in order to remove the frustration from the situation? The answer is likely yes.
Is your mood to blame? Often, the frustration we feel is a result of our own mood rather than anything our kids are doing. We may go off the deep end because they chased the dog, when other days we allow that behavior with no question. Is your mood affecting your reaction to behavior that is not harmful?
Are you upset by how things “look”? Are you frustrated because you’ve just been embarrassed by your kids? Do you feel like another parent is judging your parenting skills by your next reaction? Ask yourself if you are upset with what your kids have done, or if you are holding them to someone else’s standards.
How to get a Handle
Send a warning: If you feel your frustration building, tell your kids. Let them know where you stand before you get to the point of no return.
Calm thyself: Breathing techniques really work. However, I personally believe it’s simply because they put distance between you and your frustration. A few moments must pass.
Visual Cues: Find a visual cue that helps you put things in perspective. For example, a family photo from a great vacation, or your favorite picture of your child. Have that in a place you can easily get to when you feel frustration building. Use it as a reminder of who they are to you, and why you love them.
Turn to the Bible: Find a verse that calms you and repeat it to yourself. It can be one about family, or one that speaks to you on another level. Use it like a mantra to remind yourself Whose you are, and Whose kids you are frustrated at.
Change the Scene: You know that time out technique you’ve used on your kids? Yeah, you need one too. The genius behind this technique, of course, is that it simply removes your child from the environment in which they were having an issue. Do the same for yourself. Get into another space, pronto. Distract yourself.
When you Fail:
You will. I will. We all will. It doesn’t make us bad parents. What it does make us is parent’s who are learning a new way to cope with frustration. If you slip up and take your frustration out on your kids, fess up. Apologize to them. Explain to them that you are working on solving your problems in a better way. Then, spread some love. And, get some in return.
Remember, Mamas, we are in a place of authority in our children’s lives for a reason. We are in a teaching role, and that is what we are doing: Teaching. At. All. Times. Whether we like that part of the gig or not. If we follow the lead of our Father, teaching involves discipline, but never discipline in anger or frustration.