August 5th, 2014 by

Why/How I Don’t Scream at My Kids

We all want to live life without regret. We all, I think, have this wonderful, sunset picture of the end of our life, where we want to be able to look back on our actions and say, “Yeah, I rocked it up. Good life.”

I want to die without major regrets. Sure, I’ll make stupid, dumb choices (ask my husband about that~!) but I don’t want to reach the end of my life and yearn for the ability to un-do something.

I remember the first time I yelled at my daughter. She was a few weeks old and had terrible colic. Screaming. From 11:00 at night until 7:00 or 8:00 the next morning. Just screaming. There was nothing I could to do to stop it. It pushed me to my limits and then some. And one night, I just screamed. “WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU!? JUST STOP CRYING! I’M SO TIRED! I JUST WANT TO SLEEP! PLEASE STOP!!!” Of course, she didn’t stop, I just started crying, and once she finally did fall asleep some four hours later, I hated myself. My daughter was pure, precious, and innocent. Literally incapable of doing wrong. Yet I, in all of my imperfections, screamed at her. Lost my patience. How could I, the one who birthed her and promised to protect her, do something so heartless?

I decided that screaming at my kids was just something I couldn’t live with. I could make other mistakes in life and get over them, but I just couldn’t get over screaming at my kids.

(Here, screaming at your kids is defined as shouting/yelling out of frustration/anger. Not to be confused with a totally separate scream to warn them of danger, etc.)

Not Screaming.

When I see this picture, I can imagine my
daughter saying, “Mama, how could
you yell at little old me?” ;)

It seemed impossible. “Do I even know a single mother who doesn’t scream at her kids? Probably not. And if no one else in the whole world can seem to do it, why would I be able to?” I thought doubtfully to myself. But then I thought about my actions in public. Had I ever ‘lost it’ when there were others to watch me? Or did I somehow magically control myself when I had an audience? The truth is, my kids have tried my patience to a level 10 in public and I hadn’t screamed at them, but at home, when pushed only to a 7 or 8, I lost my patience. I figured if I could hold myself together in public, why couldn’t I hold myself together at home?

So, I challenged myself. To never scream at my children. I began in the Bible and Book of Mormon, studying model (and less than model) parenting. I read about what children are, their inherent value, and their sweet innocence. And I most certainly prayed, morning and night, for help from God to be able to act well.

Today, my daughter pooped (the nasty toddler diarrhea kind) all over me, herself, and several rooms. I was in the middle of putting together a roast for company that night, making breakfast for picky kids, packing a lunch and diaper bag, and had a timeline of 30 minutes to get my entire to do list done before I got out the door. It was not a pristine morning. And though my daughter screamed for several minutes straight because she wasn’t allowed to wear her flip flops on our hike, I didn’t lose it.

How?

I definitely think this in my head sometimes…

I have learned to recognize the emotion. When you feel anger or frustration boiling up inside you, step back inside your head and say, “Wow. I’m mad.” By simply being able to recognize the emotion, you are giving your logical side a leg up on your crazy emotional side. Just recognize it. Once you’ve done that, take another step back in your mind (usually at this point, I have to just pretend there is no crying or screaming going on, though there normally is) and say, “I AM mad- but I won’t act out of that emotion.”

It’s pretty simple in method, though difficult in implementation. Recognize your emotion, state inside your head (or out loud if it helps) and say “YES! I AM frustrated/mad/going crazy. And that’s ok. This is a rough situation. I do want to blow a gasket. BUT EVEN THOUGH I FEEL THIS WAY, I HAVE THE POWER TO HOLD BACK. I won’t act out of anger.”

The truth is, we DO have control over ourselves. I can assure you, there have been times in my life when I have been around others that had done something so wrong that I wanted to smack them across the face- but as a logical, rational adult, I held back. If I can hold back from physically or vocally abusing an adult that has done something quite wrong, surely I can have the wherewithal to keep it in when dealing with my children who, being young and still learning, often are not in the wrong at all or else don’t quite understand what/how they were wrong.

Just a cute pic of my little girl goin to sleep
with her cowboy boots

Please know that I mean none of this unkindly or cruelly. I am a mother. I know it is hard. I have more compassion for mothers (single mothers especially!) than nearly any other group on earth. Please don’t read this as a statement of judgement. I simply want to convey that we all can be the kind of mothers we want to be. And from those few times in the beginning when I did lose it and just scream at my babies, I can assure you, it much easier to not scream at my kids than it is to live with that awful pit in my stomach that inherently accompanies losing my temper.

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