None of us sets out to be a yelling mommy. When they hand us that perfect, newborn baby in the hospital and we marvel at tiny fingers and toes, soft skin and a little button nose, we never imagine that one day we might yell at this pristine little human.
But little humans grow up. They get older and become defiant toddlers and stubborn preschoolers. They become sassy and argumentative and think they know more than we do about the world. Our sweet babies become children, teens, and even adults who sometimes push our air horns to the blaring point.
Mommy, I Don’t Like When You Yell
Nearly eight years ago when my oldest was born, I carefully buckled her into the car seat on our first day home from the hospital. I remember thinking, She’s too little to go in there. How am I going to safely drive her the two miles home? How can I be the type of mom she deserves? Right there, frozen behind the driver’s seat, I promised to be the best mom I could. I never imagined that the day would come when out of sheer frustration, I would use my maximum lung capacity to yell at her.
There’s a quote by David O. McKay that I’ve always loved:
“There should be no yelling in the home unless there is a fire.”
This one particular day was like many others, frantic and hurried to get out the door. My oldest does not like to be late, to the point it legitimately stresses her out. I was bustling around getting lunches ready, the baby on my hip, shooting orders to the other kids to find their shoes.
“Mom, you’re doing my lunch wrong. Don’t let the granola bar touch the carrots.” Okay, carrots and granola bar are safely separated. Lunch box closed, in backpack, let’s go.
“Mom, you forgot to cut off the crust.” Errrg, okay. Remove lunchbox from backpack, sandwhich out of baggie, cut crusts, everything back in, zip up backpack, let’s go.
“Mommy, I can’t find my shoes,” says brother.
“He hit me!” yells sister.
“Mom, you’re making me late,” complains my oldest, her hands on her hips and her eyebrows furrowed.
I give myself an inner pep-talk. You can do this. Patience, be patient. Somehow we rush out the door and into the car driving to school. When we get within 20 feet of the building, the bell rings and my daughter starts pointing her finger at me.
“It’s your fault! You made me late and it’s your fault.” Brother is teasing baby in the back seat and my face is getting hot. I can actually feel the blood pulsing in my veins, and before I can reign it it, I’m screaming at my daughter,
STOP IT! STOP BEING A BABY!
The doors and windows trap us all in with that terrible sound. As the scream echoes through the car, my daughter’s eyes well up with tears. The look in her eyes will haunt me the rest of the day. Utter heart break.
Once the words leave my mouth, I immediately regret them, wish I could pull them back in one by one, but like a string of clown scarves, they fill the car. I hate myself for saying them. When I look back at her buckled into her booster seat, I suddenly see that baby I brought home from the hospital years before. I hurt so bad inside. How can I fix this?
Later that night, when the kids are down for bed, the dishes are put in the dishwasher, and I’m getting ready for bed, I look over on my pillow. There is a note. I walk over and pick it up and its contents send tears coursing down my face.
“Mommy, I don’t like when you yell. But I still love you.”
None of us sets out to be a yelling mommy, but I think we can all relate to her. I think we’ve all been her. So when frustrations mount to the point of eruption, how do we stop? How do we keep it under control and prevent the yelling? Well, it’s something I’ve been working on and here is a very valuable lesson I have learned.
Instead of trying to summon the patience while a frustrating situation is happening, I’ve learned to stop and rewind. Stop before I react. Rewind. What situations or behaviors are pushing me to this breaking point? Typically it’s one of these contenders:
- Children are not listening.
- There is a personality clash.
- Kids are fighting.
- Disorder in the home.
Once I’ve identified the catalysts for my yelling, I can work on preventing them. Instead of a negative situation controlling me, I can control it.
Instead of letting my blood boil, I can identify that the face-off I’m having with my daughter at the moment is because our similar personalities are butting heads. She is stubborn, I am stubborn. However, I’m the adult in the situation and can now recognize that her pointing the finger at me saying, “You made me late, and it’s all your fault” is her anxiety manifesting itself. Of course she is not mature enough to control it, but I am.
If my yelling stems from time constraints, I can set aside more time for getting ready in the morning. If I’m yelling to compete with the noise level in the house, I can bring everyone down by quieting my voice. Did you know that whispering when your kids are yelling actually gets their attention faster than yelling with them? Try it.
If I’m yelling at my kids to stop fighting, I’m no better than they. I need to foresee that a fight is about to happen and separate them before the fight occurs. I need to notice that tensions are starting to build and then offer a distraction, like five minutes of distraction-free mommy time.
If you find yourself getting frustrated to the point of yelling, stop and rewind. Ask yourself, what is bringing me to this point? Once you’ve identified the reasons, you are in control of them and can work on preventing them.
A Friendly Reminder Never Hurts
And because I am a visual learner, I use this friendly reminder to help me. I’m trying, every single day. These are the most important people in the world to me. These are the people I want to spend the rest of my days with and whom I love fiercely and viscerally.
They deserve every ounce of love and patience I have in my body.
If you could use a friendly reminder every now and then, feel free to print it out here. This printable is free, easy to post on your fridge or your bathroom mirror, and is a sweet reminder that we’re all trying—that every day is a fresh start.
I thank God that children are so forgiving and I am learning to be more like them. Every day is still a test—sometimes I pass by the skin of my teeth and sometimes I get a big “Re-Do” stamp. But parenthood is all about trying.
Stop, rewind, and try to figure out the reason behind the yelling. Remember that these are my favorite people in the whole wide world and I should never yell at them, unless of course I smell smoke.