So this morning was an eye-opening experience for me. After having a difficult day with my kids by myself while I was sick and my husband was gone on business, I nicely asked my son to get dressed and go down for breakfast. We had just finished a lovely early morning snuggle and I fully expected him to come right downstairs.
The previous day, we had talked about him doing things when I asked nicely the first time. This is, of course, an ongoing conversation; and I generally start my requests nicely unless the shenanigans are beyond what I deem to be sane and normal. But when I asked nicely he didn’t even move. I went upstairs got down at his eye level and asked why he wasn’t coming downstairs or getting ready for school. He very sweetly told me in his seven-year-old voice that he thought when I asked nicely that it meant I was just asking him if it was something he wanted to do. “Mommy, I know you don’t mean it until you start yelling.” I have heard that from parenting classes and advisers for years, but it was the first time I was hearing it right out of my son’s mouth.
I was shocked. I explained to him very nicely that isn’t the type of mommy that I want to be. The mommy that I dreamed I would be was the one that didn’t yell at all, that said things nicely and sweetly to him. I asked him if he could please, please hear me that I mean it when I say it nicely. He worked really hard on it all day, and by the end of the day asked me how he did. He had done really well. I decided I owed it to him to work on myself too.
So I reached out to Krista Rizzo, the owner “Why Am I Yelling?” parenting coaching. She gave me some tips that I plan to implement, see how they work, and reach back out to her later. She has more free tips on her blog and website www.whyamiyelling.com
- When they ignore you say “When you’re taking to me you have my undivided attention. I expect the same from you.” This works as long as you actually do this 🙂
- Turn requests into non-negotiables. “I need you to help me out and pick up the pretzels off the floor.”
- Turn it into a game. “You have 3 minutes to get ready. I’m timing you.” Let them see the timer.
- Make him excited about being the older sibling. “You’re old enough now that I think I can depend on you to be the example.”
- Set expectations for the day and let kids know a snippet of what your adult day looks like. Krista started doing this with her kids when they were babies. “Okay here’s what’s going to happen today. At 7:45 we are headed to school. At 8, I will be getting on a conference call with my client. I will pick you up at 2…”
- Start request with “can you do me a favor…” or “This is what has to happen next…”
- When you do lose it, let them know, “there is a reason that you’re being spoken to in this way. I’ve asked you three times.” Apologize.
- Get on the same page as your partner (although mine doesn’t yell). “I’ve been struggling with yelling let’s try these tips together. Let’s have each other’s backs.” When kids ask for things, the first question each parent needs to ask is “did you ask your other parent?” And, not argue about parenting in front of the kids.
Sound tough to you? Wish me luck! What other tips and resources do you have for keeping your cool? Please let me know in the comments below.