Living in apartments, you can usually hear quite a lot of what's going on in your neighbors' homes. I remember living in an apartment right after I got married where I could hear our neighbor yelling at her kids. She would yell all the time, and I judged her for it. Why? Because I was never going to be the mom that yelled at her kids.
In some ways, parenthood makes fools of us all. We swear we'll never do certain things, and then we end up eating our words. I'm still not what I'd call a "yeller," but I definitely have a raised voice more often than I'd like. And how did this happen? Well, toddlerhood happened. Having multiple kids happened. And when you're constantly trying to keep the toddler from smothering/stepping on/poking the baby, you tend to yell sometimes.
Yelling to Keep Them Safe
To be fair, yelling has its place in parenting. You might feel differently, but I do think yelling is appropriate at times. For instance, in an emergency, sometimes you need to get a child's attention immediately
. If I see my toddler wrapping the baby up in a blanket (including the baby's head so he can't breathe), then I'm going to yell, "STOP!!!" and go intervene. Or if a child is about to run into a busy street, yelling "STOP!!!" might save the day. My point is, yelling isn't necessarily always a bad thing--but I do want to parent intentionally and avoid the reactive yelling when something makes me angry.
Yelling in a Rage
I never thought of myself as someone who couldn’t keep her temper. In most instances, I’m a fairly even-keel person who rarely (if ever) yells. And then I had kids. The truth is, having kids changes you. Sure, the kids are sweet when they’re babies, but then they become toddlers, and then threenagers, and then teenagers, ahhh! It all happens very fast, but my point is that they don’t stay cute and sweet forever, and you’re going to yell sometimes. Trust me, it’ll happen—eventually. Now I recently read an article on how postpartum anxiety (or just anxiety in general) can make you lose your cool all too easily and become a crazy rage monster
. And yet, I think getting mad and yelling just sort of comes with parenting, too. Either way, it’s important to find coping mechanisms that are healthy, and that allow you to move past your moments of flying off the handle to being able to parent with a cool head.
Stopping the Rage Monster
What am I talking about? Here's an example from my day-to-day grind: It had been an early morning and I was not ready to put on pants or even think about showering. I went into the kitchen to find some breakfast to revive me, but the sink was overflowing with dishes. Sighing, I decided to hurry up and load the dishwasher to try to stem the flow of things overdue on my to-do list. As I loaded the dishwasher, my toddler finished his breakfast and started begging/whining annoyingly to get out of his high chair
because he’s “alldonealldonealldonealldoooonnnnne!!!” Meanwhile, my infant cried with increasing volume because he prefers to be held ALWAYS. As I came out of the kitchen with the sound and stress levels rising, my first instinct was to yell at my toddler to BE QUIET and wait until I get a chance to get him down from his high chair. But suddenly I realized…the reason I wanted to yell is not
my toddler’s fault. It’s not his fault that I’m trying to do three things at once, and he isn’t making the baby cry, either. And even if these things were somehow his doing, I shouldn’t get mad because he is just a little boy
. He doesn't understand enough to be held responsible. And he doesn't deserve to be yelled at. So I took a deep breath, centered myself, and then cleaned him up and got him out of his high chair
. And before setting him down, I gave him a quick kiss while remembering that someday he won’t let me kiss him and cuddle him…and then I picked up the screaming baby and comforted him while I did the dishes one-handed. This is just one small example of what it's like to feel that mommy rage monster rear it's ugly head. Luckily, in this instance, I was able to identify that my yelling wasn't productive, but harmful. I'm not an expert, but here's what I've learned about yelling so far:
- Yelling usually escalates an already stressful situation.
- I almost always feel bad after I yell at my kids.
- Yelling can get a child's attention, but what does that teach them about how to get attention?
- If the yelling is reacting in anger, it's probably not the right choice.
- Everyone yells sometimes--it happens. That doesn't mean you can't apologize after an outburst.
So that's my take. No parent is perfect, although some are more prone to yelling than others. The key is to identify the why behind the outbursts, and then decide if yelling is productive or worth it. Because no one likes getting yelled at, and children mirror what they see. So the next time you want to yell, consider what it teaches your kids. Then take a deep breath, and do your best to keep on keepin' on.
Featured Image PC: @kristy7graces