At the pediatrician’s office the other day, there was a sign posted in the waiting room. It was called How to Love a Child, and it listed about 20 things in one giant paragraph. A few were highlighted, and one caught my eye: Stop Yelling.
Over the last year, my patience for my first son had shrunk a bit.
Now he is three years old. He has his own opinions. He negotiates for what he wants. And it doesn’t always gel with what I want him to do.
The first time I yelled at him, I felt terrible. I think it was something to the effect of “Just put on your shoes!!!!” so we could get to an appointment on time. After the second or third time I yelled at him, HE yelled back at ME. Oh oh, I thought. That’s where this is heading.
I didn’t want my child to become someone who yells at others. But here I was yelling at him.
I blamed my yelling on stress, lack of sleep, annoyance at the physical aches and pains of my pregnancy, and so on. But of course the reason made no difference to him. He was learning that yelling is the way you get things done.
According to Jane Nelson in her book Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, the feeling that leads to yelling or worse is a sign that “the pitcher is empty.” She says, “Effective, loving parenting takes a lot of time and energy. You can’t do your best when your pitcher is empty, when you’re tired, cranky, stressed out, and overwhelmed.”
She recommends doing things like budgeting time wisely, making lists, making time for important relationships, and doing the things you enjoy regularly.
But the most helpful thing she mentions is a time out. (For me, not my son!) When I feel that overwhelming frustration well up, I’m trying to just step away for a minute or close my eyes and take a deep breath.
What about you? Do you yell at your kids when you’re frustrated? Do you have any secrets to keeping your patience you can share?