You're fixing dinner. It's been a long day of your boss asking about those TPS reports. When you got home you found someone forgot to set the meat out to thaw, so now you are trying to come up with another dinner plan. Meanwhile the table is piled high with bills that need to be paid this week as well as a never ending supply of school fundraiser flyers. Your son wants to watch Transformers, while his sister is insistent on watching My Little Pony on the only working tv. The baby is teething which means that he wants to be held all the time and you are running on about 30 minutes of sleep. And the teenager who got her permit last month has to have a driving lesson tonight or her life will be over. You go to let the dog in and find that he is taking a mud bath in the oriental lily bed that you planted just the other day. While wrestling him out of the mud and into the bathroom for the kids to wash him, your favorite blouse gets stained. So you go to change shirts and find that the cat has used the basket of clean laundry as a litter box and you are sure that someone was told to get those clothes folded and put away last night. Your husband is no where to be found and he left his phone in the bedroom so you have no way of getting ahold of him. And the Mormons just rang the doorbell.
Want to scream yet?
Before you do, STOP! Think about the lesson your kids will learn from how you handle all this stress.
According to a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania, harsh verbal discipline can be just as bad as physical abuse and may encourage negative behaviors instead of curbing them.
So what's a parent to do? Well I tried a few different sources to find ways of handling frustration caused by parenting. The first was a very informal poll on Facebook to see what my friends do. I'm not saying that they are all good methods, but here's a summary of what they said:
- Escape into a book, or go for a walk, or go for a long drive to get a Diet Dr. Pepper (in my case a Vanilla Coca-Cola) until you are calm
- In the case of a screaming baby, hand him over to dad or another trusted adult and leave the room until you are calm
- Sing or listen to music
- Go in the bathroom and scream
- BREATHE.....stop and take a deep breath (or two, or three)
- Count up to, or down from, 10 or 100
- Intercept the issue and make it a teaching moment, the sooner the better so that the child can better connect the negative behavior to the your reaction
- Use phrases like "I am upset because..." or "... could have happened" to avoid saying anything rash.
- Make use of a punching bag (or punch the laundry - but not the pile that the cat peed on)
- Talk it out right away so that they can connect your disappointment to the negative behavior
- Start early to set the habit of example of talking it out with your kids, even if they are still toddlers and infants
- Have a good cry
That's just what my friends had to say. That doesn't make all their advice all correct. I just asked what they did and those were the answers I got. So I did some searching on the internet for other ways of handling it and mostly I found super-moms who said they just stopped yelling at their families. They did acknowledge that it was easier said than done and gave tips on how they learned to stop yelling and why. Ommily at the JustMommies blog said that you have to learn to recognize the emotions that make you want to yell and then acknowledge to yourself that you are mad, but also remind yourself that you choose not to act on that emotion.
The Orange Rhino over at The Huffington Post says to remember that yelling may cause you to miss out on some special moments and conversations with your kids. She also recommends keeping things in perspective and reminding yourself that "at least it's not..." She says you should realize that you are the problem, not your kids. This goes along with what Ommily says about choosing your reaction. Finally Orange Rhino says to take care of yourself. It is hard to provide the parenting your child needs when you are running on fumes. If you are not emotionally healthy, you aren't going to be able to give healthy responses to the situations you find yourself in.
by Melody K. Coehoorn