Avoiding the Yelling Point

Today was a yelling sort of day.

MM had an extra dose of energy and curiosity.  His hands had a mind of their own.  Meanwhile, TL would take the opportunity to quietly wreak havoc all over the house while big brother had my attention.

I think I hit my yelling point by about lunch time.  You know, that point when you’ve lost control of your voice and the smallest things get under your skin.  Thankfully nap time comes after lunch time.

The yelling point is the human version of the boiling point.  We all have different thresholds, but add the right heat and enough opportunities, the anger begins to bubble over.  However, the yelling point is avoidable.  With toddlers in particular, a little prevention goes a long way in removing the heat and opportunities for conflict and frustration.

Sometimes it feels so good to yell.  But by the end of the day, I feel crummy about it.  Simply because it really isn’t necessary.

I could’ve offered more choices.  It takes more time, but my kids are people too.  They are allowed to have opinions.

I could’ve picked my battles.  It really didn’t matter if MM wanted to drink from his cup without the lid.  The cup only had water, but at the time I just didn’t want to deal with the inevitable splashes on the floor.

I could’ve taken the time to be more kind and understanding.  It’s the little things.  Like kneeling down to their level to gently get their attention, instead of just telling them to do something from across the room.  There’s a lot going on in their young minds as they play and explore.

I could’ve given more specific directions.  For instance, in my grumpy haste, I told MM to “clean up” rather than focusing on one particular task such as “put all the trains into this box”.

I could’ve kept my mouth shut.  Let the consequences do the teaching.  I tend to discuss things far more than a toddler’s attention span can usually handle.  Reminder to self: one short sentence will suffice. 

I could’ve rephrased my requests.  I went overboard today with a constant barrage of don’t…, stop…, and no….  That is frustrating to listen to all day long, no matter how young or old you are.  Switching to positive statements (“please dig in the sandbox instead of the vegetable garden” instead of “stop it, no digging here!”) would have been more constructive.

I could’ve viewed the behavior as a symptom to an underlying need.  Rather than focusing on the behavior alone, I could’ve taken a moment to question why MM was being so rough.  Perhaps because he wanted a little more attention since I’d been busy tending to TL’s needs.  Understanding helps redirect me back to some much needed compassion.

What I did do right today:

I hugged and kissed my kids a lot.

I remained consistent in my discipline approach.

I apologized whenever I yelled.

Without doubt, parenting is difficult.  But being a toddler is just as tough.  Maybe more so.

Imagine the constant exploration and learning that goes on in a toddler’s brain.  Imagine the amount of energy that goes into play.  Imagine the constant tension between the fear of failure and the desire for independence.  Imagine pushing boundaries into the unknown on a daily basis.  And in the midst of all that, imagine what it feels like to have some big person constantly interrupt, reprimand, change the plans, remove objects of interest, and make the decisions for every. single. thing.

I get frustrated just thinking about it.  I would yell and scream if that were my world.  No wonder small things can bring a flood of tears.  No wonder my kids are so tired by the end of the day.

Yelling itself is not horrible.  We all have our moments.  Thankfully, all the other daily acts of love amount to so much more.  But yelling doesn’t help either.  It only makes for more noise and chaos that nobody appreciates.  I may have plenty of yelling days to come, but I do hope to avoid more than to succumb.

What do you do to help keep your calm?

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