Tuesday, October 14, 2008
WFMW: Turn Down the Volume
I wrote in this post that I don't yell at my children. I meant that sincerely. I really don't yell. Shannon emailed me about another subject, but asked me to tell her how I managed the not yelling and subsequently pronounced my reply post-worthy, so here it is.
Of course, I never intended to yell at my kids. I had been yelled at, and I knew how it felt. I knew I'd never do such a thing. Then I actually had the kids. Yelling came frighteningly easily to me. I didn't yell profanities or threats. I didn't scream vulgarities. I simply raised my volume because I wanted to be heard. Or to make a point. To a three-year-old. I can't think of anything more frightening to a 37-pound child than a giant grown-up towering overhead and yelling. I knew this wasn't the kind of mother I wanted to be. I always meant to never yell again, and when I failed I felt like a complete monster. I brought up the subject with my Mothering Mentor, who said, "Yelling is lazy mothering." Ouch. She added, "Purpose in your heart not to raise your voice." I thought that was what I was doing after every yelling episode, but I was mistaken. She went on to tell me HOW to go about it.
First, she told me to pray about it specifically every day for 6 months. Whether it was currently a problem or not, I was to bring this habit before the Lord every single day. This had the effect of keeping me acutely aware of my desire not to raise my voice. The result was that the instances of yelling immediately decreased dramatically.
Next, she had me search the Scriptures for specific passages relating to this struggle. She didn't give me any hints, either. I found a few that really spoke to me and I committed them to memory.
Lastly, she suggested that I make a plan. I was to come up with a new routine that I could employ instead of yelling. Now, when I need to make myself heard, I stop what I'm doing and go to the person I need to address. I put my hands on them in a loving way and wait for them to make eye contact with me. Then I tell them what I have to say in a soft, controlled voice. This serves me in that it ensures that what I say is exactly what I mean, no more and no less. It keeps me from just popping off with the first thing that comes to mind. I have stopped the van at times to get out, go around to the passenger side and lean into the back seat to deliver instruction. The children know that if I've stopped the car, somebody's going to lose a Nintendo DS.
It takes a lot of extra time at first, but now, 15 years down the road, I can honestly say that it saves me time, since I don't ever have to repeat myself and my children have been trained to attend to my voice and obey the first time. I've received a return on the extra time a hundredfold. Another benefit is that, in this household of 7, there isn't any yelling.
Not yelling works for me. For more great tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.