Momsense Challenge: Can You Go A Week Without Yelling?

I was reading my November 2010 issues of Redbook magazine recently, and inside there was what I think is a great article entitled “Could you go a week without yelling?” and of course, this caught my attention. You see, I’m probably a bit of a yeller. And just really loud. Combo probably not good. I CONSTANTLY feel like I’m yelling or talking loudly at my daughter. I’m frustrated. And when I get frustrated my volume goes up. Kind of like when you talk to someone who doesn’t speak English…you tend to talk louder. Why I don’t know. For either thing.

Anyhoo…I thought it was an interesting challenge to take. Could I go a whole week without yelling? I’m sure I already know the answer: “no”. But, it’s worth trying and striving for. Because like the author, I will at least by yelling less. And that’s good for everyone.

I wish I had a little buzzer that would go off when I was yelling. I’m going to try to wear one of my daughter’s brightly colored Silly Bands on my wrist. As a reminder. And something to snap when I start yelling. Maybe enough little snaps to the wrist will make me think before I yell.

So, who’s up for this challenge? If you are, reply to this message with your name and your start date. Let us know how it goes. And please, share any tips or tricks you used/tried along the way. Here’s to a peace filled home this week!

Below is an excerpt from the article, with a link to the full story. Enjoy!

“Within each of us, ofttimes, there dwells a mighty and raging fury.” —The Incredible Hulk

I don’t consider myself an angry person. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve shouted at my husband, and I wouldn’t dream of raising my voice at a rude salesperson. In fact, in all the world, there are only three people I ever get veiny-necked at: my children, ages 7, 6, and 2.

I’m not proud that I couldn’t imagine treating a line-cutting stranger the way I do my own flesh and blood on a daily basis. But strangers don’t tend to work my last nerve like my own kids can. What I actually say when I yell at them tends more toward “I don’t care how itchy it is — you’re wearing that scarf!” than anything truly damaging, but nonetheless, I’ve been meaning to stop. Two years ago I gave up yelling at my kids for Lent. I should’ve known it wouldn’t go well: If I couldn’t last 40 days without dark chocolate, I’d never be able to abstain that long from my primary means of discipline. I went 10 days without chocolate. Without yelling? Four hours.

Recently, however, I’ve sensed that all my sound and fury is losing effectiveness. As I railed at my children one morning for fighting over Silly Bandz, I saw them cast furtive glances at one another — Here she goes again. That day, I gave myself a new challenge: no yelling at the kids for a week. Only seven days. At summer camp, when I was 9, I didn’t brush my hair for a week on a bunkmate’s dare. By the end, I could have happily worn a baseball cap for the rest of my life. Would a break from yelling be similarly liberating? I needed to find out.

DAY 1: THE CHALLENGE BEGINS
I send Seamus and Connor, my 6- and 7-year-old sons, to brush their teeth after breakfast, knowing that they can’t peacefully coexist for more than 30 seconds. I hear them hollering through the floor. Then a thump that sounds like somebody’s head. Then howls of rage.

Any other day, I’d take the stairs three at a time, shouting that they’d better cut it out if they ever want to see Scooby-Doo again in this lifetime. But today I just stand there, taking cleansing breaths, and after a few thump-filled minutes…silence. To my astonishment, their fight ends without my intervention, and no one loses an ear either.

I’m not yelling! I think, terribly proud of myself.

Problem: My kids are. Lowering my own voice has made it glaringly clear that my children live their entire lives at the top of their lungs. I stay out of their scuffles for the rest of the day, just listening to the din around me. Where did my children learn to go full-throttle like this? Sadly, the answer is obvious.

By saying almost nothing at all, I avoid yelling for the entire day — but this tactic won’t work for a whole week. Is there a way to execute firm discipline in a kinder, gentler way?

DAY 2: SPEAK SOFTLY AND…
My plan for today is that I will interrupt their fighting, but each time I want to get louder, I will get quieter instead. Just like Supernanny does with her recalcitrant charges.

“Shut UP!” my oldest shouts across the kitchen table.

“No, YOU shut up!” his brother bellows back.

These words are forbidden in our house, but I’m tempted to yell them myself. Instead, I murmur so quietly that they have to ask me to repeat myself: “The next person who says ‘shut up’ has to do 10 push-ups.”

The military-style threat quiets everyone down — except for my 2-year-old daughter, who says, “The next person to say ‘shut up,’ dem do 10 pushers?” Her brothers, suddenly sticklers for rules, insist she drop and give ’em 10. Maggie doesn’t mind, but she’s kind of vague on what push-ups are, exactly, and in the ensuing battle over whether her attempts count, my oldest accidentally uses the “S.U.” words again, then refuses to perform his own punishment. Soon I’m standing over him shrieking like a demented drill sergeant because he won’t do the push-ups I’d prescribed specifically to avoid yelling.

“How’s your experiment going?” my husband asks when he gets home that night.

“I yelled at Connor this morning,” I admit (on the defensive), “but he disobeyed me to my face!” David listens to my story and proceeds carefully. “Okay, he didn’t do his 10 push-ups,” he says gently, “but that was just a silly thing you made up. I mean, he wasn’t running into traffic.”

He’s right. I was yelling about the push-ups, but the boys’ fight was long over. To stop screaming, I need to learn to quit while I’m ahead.

To finish reading the entire article, click HERE.

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