Sometimes when my son doesn’t listen to direction I’ve given, when he completely ignores what I’ve just said- my voice gets louder. The other day my son even said to me “mom, you’re not using your inside voice…” Yes, I’ve been guilty of yelling at my child just like anyone else. Especially when I find myself pulled in a few different directions, feeling stressed, and my son takes that moment to ignore my direction.
It’s not ever the case that I actually believe that he didn’t hear me. Yelling is not something that I think about doing. That’s the problem, though. It just kinda comes out sometimes. I don’t think at all, I’m operating from the point of my frustration only and not using the logical part of my brain at all. Most of the time when we operate from emotion alone we end up taking action that we wouldn’t normally take. I hear about this from a lot of parents in my office and I usually recommend that we take some time alone, without their child present, to work on this a little bit. I’ll tell you right now exactly what I say in those sessions 90% of the time and save you the copay J
We need to slow down. We need to think before we act. If I always took the time, prior to yelling at my child, to breathe and listen to the wise part of my mind- I would hear it telling me that no, my son is not hard of hearing; no, I do not feel that yelling at my child is an effective means of discipline and no, it doesn’t make me feel good about the parent that I am. If I listened carefully, my wise mind would tell me that taking the few extra moments to walk over to my son, ensure that he follow my direction, and follow through with a natural and logical consequence for not listening when I know he heard me- then in the future I would have less incidents where the impulse to yell would even come up- because my son would be more likely to respond to me the first time direction is given.
We know, when we stop to think about it, that raising our children is the most important job we’ll ever encounter. Yet because it’s a 24 hour job, we often fall into parenting on auto-pilot. We continue doing the same thing, with the same results, without really thinking about why or to what end. I’m not saying that you’ll be able to or even need to have every single interaction with your child include intense focus and deliberately chosen approaches. Spontaneity is good sometimes. I’m just saying that it’s important to recognize when you’re faced with an opportunity to support your child in gaining the core values that you hope they’ll come into adulthood with (and that you should know what those core values are, but that’s another post…). I’m guessing that one of these values includes the ability to control emotion, since it’s so important in our daily lives as adults. A good way to teach our children to control their emotions is to do so ourselves.