As the year winds down and I look back, almost idly, at this blog’s presence, it’s with a bit of pleasure I see that sidebar with my ‘yell-free’ counter. I’ve gone 821 days without yelling at my daughter. My intention is to take that counter down once it hits a 1000 days. By then, I am hoping that this practice I’ve developed will have become an integral part of my parenting.
But today’s post is more of a reflection plus a way to share the lessons I’ve
This hasn’t been easy, I’ll admit. I’ve gone for a week without yelling, managed 30 days, even 300 days! But I’d slip, find myself losing control all over again until I discovered a few key things.
For one, it’s important not to let the guilt of failure stop you. You’ve started on the yelling less journey. That’s
The key to maintaining consistency, in anything, is doing it daily, tracking your progress, learning what works and discarding what doesn’t. And so, today, I am sharing 5 tips with you that will help you work on that little devil in the head that says yelling will get the job done.
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Be completely present
So easy to hear; so tough to put into practice. But it’s the most effective method, I can assure you. Kids are these incredibly vibrant beings, bursting with the need to share every single detail of every single day. When Gy was younger and began talking, non-stop I might add, I could feel the hackles on my neck go up each time I had to be subjected to the repetition of the same nursery rhyme, sometimes 25 times on loop. Other people told me, ‘Oh, it’s just a phase. She will outgrow it.’
At 11 and a half, I can assure you she hasn’t. But now, instead of being annoyed, I am delighted. As they grow up, this need to share is what will keep them coming back to us, when they want to talk. Be it non-essential or critical, they know you’re there for them. You will listen.
How to do it? Tune in. Set everything aside and be present for the full 10 or 15 minutes that they want to ramble. Stay in the moment and forget about your chores, your work, your other commitments. If you know they have a routine, make sure that your time with them is sacred. No compromises. If you’re working and in the middle of a deadline, gently explain that you will be with them soon. And stick to your word. Kids take things at face value.
When kids have a meltdown or a tantrum, they need you to understand why they are going through it. It’s the easiest thing in the world to ask them to get over it and stop crying. Yelling is counter-productive in these situations.
Why? Because they know you aren’t listening. Their cries grow louder, your decibel levels match theirs and ultimately, nobody wins. As tough as this may be to do, let them know that you are there. Speak in a normal tone, even as they are yelling. Explain that you can’t understand them when they are shouting.
Engage with them
One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is the
At that time, I know I am creating a deeper connection with her than just the story-telling. It’s the understanding that I am there for her when she needs me. She is also aware that if she wants competitive play, she can count on my husband. Being an only child can get lonely at times, but she has finally found the balance between being with us and being by herself. That wouldn’t have happened, were it not for some effort on our part. Do this regularly, so you can get messages across without having to yell.
Be the parent
In all this, we shouldn’t forget a crucial concept: we are the parents. As much as I can be present, engage her in play or storytelling, I cannot only be her friend. In addition, we need to make it clear that the way she responds to her friends will not work when she interacts with us, the parents.
So, yes, there is a need for respect and we aim to cultivate that by laying down the rules. We explain that negative actions will have consequences. My husband made it clear to her that there are rules which need to be followed for us to work cohesively as a unit. This means that a consequence will follow and there will be no arguments.
How we do this is by being gentle, but firm. There are no negotiations and there are no lectures. While it was a struggle at first, we’ve found the middle path that works, without yelling to make ourselves heard. I confess my husband is better at this than I
Operate from a space of love
By far, the best thing I have
I recall being totally frustrated after one incident and asking my mother, ‘Why does she always do this? Why can’t she understand I have her best interests at heart?’ My mom explained,’It’s not that she is doing it out of anger. She has all these large emotions struggling to make space in her mind and she doesn’t know how to deal with them. So she gets angry or upset or irritable and takes it out on you. Don’t take it personally.’
Don’t take it personally!
This made all the difference once I began to see why she did what she did. So today when she is upset, I try and find out what is the trigger behind the
Understand that these tips work, but they take practice. They require something more than willpower. They require that you make a conscious mental shift in your outlook. This will take time, so don’t try everything all at once. Pick a tip, work on it, get good at it and watch that yell-free counter rise.
And with baby steps and consistent effort, I’m sure that you’ll be beating my record hollow in no time at all.
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How to talk so your kids will listen
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So it is possible to go without yelling. I guess I need to wait till M grows up a little more because these days I keep finding myself pulling at my hair just to prevent her from doing something that would harm her. Or, even while trying to get her to eat! God, Shailaja, how do you do it!
Breathe 🙂 It isn’t easy and you’re already overworked. Regarding the eating, the one thing I can suggest is make things that she enjoys eating and mix it with things she doesn’t. That helped with Gy. And it took a long time, Naba. Patience pays 🙂 You will get there. 🙂
You manage everything so perfectly… I am sure it’s not easy. I had a tryst with my little cousin. It was then I realized how little patience I have for kids and their tantrums.
I love how organized you are, in your thought process and how you deal with situations. I don’t know when I will learn all of that.
It’s not easy 🙂 But it is doable. The ‘organisation’ is in my blood, I think. I could give you a transfusion. That may help 😉
Very proud of you for that huge milestone, Shailaja. It is a big deal to not yell ever. As a parent, sometimes I yell. Many times it is because they will just not listen. But yes, during conflicts, I never yell. Like you mentioned, when we operate from the viewpoint of power, things don’t turn out too well. With a tween and a teen in the house and my own hormones running high, there is a recipe for explosions every 5 minutes but we manage rather well. Except for them fighting like cats and dogs. 🙂
Very useful tips there. Another thing that works well for me is my ability to show them that I am human. If I lose my temper or am overworked and overwhelmed, I tell them that I had a rough day and perhaps I will snap at them. I’ve found them to be more reasonable to me at that time.
With two, I can imagine the tensions running high. 😉 Yes I always apologised after a yelling outburst so she would also know I am human but capable of apology. Now she is also more in tune with my moods and empathises far better, the way we do with one another.
Thanks, Rachna 🙂
Very useful tips, Shailaja. As a mom to a teen, I can imagine what you must have gone through before you set yourself that target of not yelling at all. I have been on that journey myself. Transitioning from being calm and sweet and then angry and ferocious, until I’ve lost it totally…I’ve been there! I know how it feels when you say why you want to do this. I too follow a similar method. I’ve realised, it is just as important to be at peace ourselves before we can tactfully deal with a meltdown! It is tricky being mom to a teen, because they are very different from what we remember of how we were as teens! The learning continues. 🙂
So true, Esha. We have to be at peace with ourselves. Without that, none of these will even begin to work. Oh teens these days are challenging! I was a sweet teen if I do say so myself 😉
I have tried to yell less, but I keep falling off the wagon. Though it’s still a goal of mine that I’m not giving up on, and your posts really encourage me to stay on this journey. So, thank you for that.
Having said that, the one thing I have gotten better at is staying present. Like you said, it takes a great deal of effort, but it’s well worth it. They definitely notice. 🙂
I am hopeful that with time, this will become easier for you, Shantala. It does take time, so I won’t say there is a shortcut or anything like that. But trust the fact that this path is the best thing possible.
I totally bow to thee, zen master. That’s more than two years of no-yelling. Or am I getting my math wrong? Seriously? Jokes apart, I am so very proud of you. Your post here is proof that it is actually possible to do that. I loved your pointers – that one on ‘Be the parent’ – so important to remember. And also, ‘Operate from a space of love’. That will come from not getting involved in the tussle of wills, from remembering that you’re not in it simply to prove your point. Sigh! So hard to do.
Thanks, Tulika 🙂 I must admit it’s still not easy on some days, the tussle of wills, especially with a tween in the house. But it gets easier each time. The empathy helps, for sure. Here’s hoping it will go a long way to build the relationship.
Such a nice lesson indeed…
Thanks, Arpana! Welcome to my blog.
You, my dear, are my Everest! 😀
I’m not even a parent yet, and I still yell atleast 500 times a day. Mostly at myself and at not living things, but still I do. I need to learn a lot from you regarding this. I’m trying to be calm in so many ways. But from 5000 times a day to 500 times is still an improvement I guess 😛
Ha ha, true. From 5000 to 500 is a good leap 🙂 I’ll share some ideas that helped me.
That’s indeed an achievement, Shy. Happy for you, and for Gy!
My mum says the very same things your mum does, about kids, and why they get angry and agitated, or behave stubbornly.
Am sharing this post with my SIL.
Mums are the best, no? At least ones like ours who care so deeply 🙂 Thank you for sharing the post, Shilpa!
This is all good stuff Shailaja but the most important bit for me is ‘don’t take it personally’ because I am so guilty of doing just that! You’re advice is brilliant – thank you so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond
This is really great advice and well done you on your challenge. The listening part is so incredibly important and one that I must pay heed to. As you say, it can be ramblings and often at the most difficult time but I can and will listen to every single detail of every single television programme. And that’s because I want my daughter to always have a place to come for a listening ear. Thanks for sharing with us at #tweensteensbeyond
Well done you! I am in awe. Despite my best efforts a week is as far as I have managed so far but I am pinning and will take heed for the New Year – if not sooner! I love your mother’s advice about getting them to understand you are speaking from a position of love. Wise words indeed. I am going through that terrible phase now with my eldest who is just back from Uni of “you can’t tell me what to do anymore” and needing to remind him (without yelling) that whilst he is in my house I actually can! Oh the parenting challenges we face. #TweensTeensBeyond
Never been a “yeller” but must confess I’ve felt like but controlled myself. I had a great role model in my Mom and I am glad I tried my best to follow her example. Of course, it is not easy to be consistently nice, but so rewarding! What helped me most was living in the moment, remembering always that we can never turn the clock back.
Kudos to you for becoming “Zen”
Thanks Vidya 🙂 Certainly grateful for the lessons I learn every single day.