Today was a day that I definitely want to forget. One of those days where the kids ignored everything I said, popsicles were dripped all over the house, tantrums were thrown, and I absolutely lost it. I yelled (and I mean I yelled) at my kids.
I am usually a pretty easy-going mama, and I try my best to let things slide off and use a kind voice with my littles, but I'd be lying if I said that occasionally I let my frustrations get the better of me and I yell.
Whether it's because I've asked my son to put on his shoes about a million times, or I have to keep reminding my daughter to stop throwing pillows at her brother, or that we're not going to the park after dinner... sometimes it's like they ONLY hear my yelling, and nothing else.
So the question I've been asking myself is this: Will my kids remember my yelling?
There is a bunch of research that is done on the effects of parenting and disciplining on kids of every age, but let me just save you the trouble, and let you know that NO. You are most likely not scarring your child for life when you yell at them or lose your cool every once in a while.
Even though you may not be affecting their long term development with the occasional yelling or shouting while discipling, when it comes to toddlers (which is the case in my house), your littles' brains are in a stage of development that will cause them to react negatively to the yelling, as opposed to changing/correcting their behavior into the outcome you're looking for.
This has been described as the fight, flight, or freeze: when a parent yells, your child might react by yelling back, crying, or hitting, or freeze and pout, which can drive you even MORE crazy.
There's another school of thought that says for every negative interaction in a balanced, healthy relationship, there need to be five positive interactions. This really helps parents in regard to disciplining their kids.
This 5:1 can give you a rough guideline for your own parenting. Are the interactions you have with your babes more often positive than they are negative? And remember that positive interactions don't need to be big expressions of love and affection. They can be as simple as smiling at or engaging with your child, a hug and a kiss after an argument, or sitting down and playing trains after you've had a rough couple of minutes together.
Unfortunately, there's no rule book for the best way to parent your kids. I know. If only it was that easy. Since we don't have a list of do's and don'ts, we need to rely on the experiences we have with our kids and rely on our own emotional responses to given situations to help keep our cool when things get a little overwhelming.
Here's an example of something I deal with when it comes to my littles that might give you a good idea of what I'm talking about:
There is not a single grocery shopping trip that I have experienced in the last 6 months with my kids that I enjoyed, or that I didn't lose my cool at least once with my littles. My kids are prone to wandering. I have a 2-year-old who loves to touch and grab and handle just about everything in every aisle, and a 4-year-old who thinks that every open space on a shelf is there for his Olympic gymnastics training. Needless to say, I have a hard time NOT getting frustrated with my kids when I'm in the grocery store.
Since I know from experience that none of us are going to be happy during or after a grocery trip, I know to avoid it like the plague, and only do grocery pick up or delivery during the day. Otherwise, I make sure Daddy is with us, or I am able to go by myself.
I think the thing I needed the most when looking up the details on yelling at kids, was to help relieve some of the guilt that I feel whenever I really yell or get upset at my kids. I don't think by any means that I am an extremely angry parent, or that I am a mean parent, but it never feels good to be mad at my kids. I think that what doing this research has taught me, and I hope it will help you, is to know that parents who yell are parents who try.
I'm a parent who is trying my best to help my kids learn and grow and develop, and because of the amount of time we spend together and the expectations I have set for my littles, yes, I sometimes get frustrated and lose my cool. But because I feel that sting of yelling, because I try to be better, I feel a little better knowing that a good parent is a parent who tries.
I know that I'm not going to be perfect all the time as a parent, and I am for sure okay with that, but I do want to make sure that I'm setting myself up in a situation that won't inevitably lead to a shouting match. Learning, growing, and moving on without the overwhelming guilt is something I think every mama and daddy can do!
I know that I'm not alone, and that every parent gets frustrated with their littles and we all lose our cool. At the end of the day, it's all about trying to be better than the day before, giving yourself a break when you've had a hard time, and remembering that you love your kids and YOUR KIDS LOVE YOU.