How to stop yelling
I hate to hear yelling. There’s this visceral response that runs through my body when I hear it. My heart feels like it beats harder, like my fight or flight response is getting ready. All of my defenses go on high alert. That’s how I got into the habit of yelling, strange as it sounds. Once I heard it I went on the defense or maybe I became offense, I dunno. Either way, hearing someone else yell got me ready to fight back. Over time I started to realize that I was constantly yelling around our home. If those nanny cams were in my house it would have been so embarrassing. Most of what I yelled about was insignificant too. Did I really need to holler about the book-bag being left in the floor every single day? It obviously wasn’t working toward changing the behavior anyway.
I decided that I didn’t want to yell anymore. Told myself, I’ll start talking things through with the kids instead. My thought was that I could get the same point across without screaming it and that would leave me feeling less frazzled or guilty! Not that easy. See, what I hadn’t planned on was that my yelling had become a habit. I wasn’t yelling because I wanted to or even because I was angry. I was doing it because I had inadvertently trained myself to! Ugh, why can’t I get in the making my bed everyday habit instead?
I kept trying though. There would be good days and then I’d find myself yelling again. Then I’d tell myself, it’s ok just don’t do it again. I started noticing the effects of my yelling during that time. There was this barrier with the kids every time I did it. Almost like they went into a mode of ignoring or blocking me out when I yelled. Sometimes it caused them to listen but often it just seemed to make them numb and me a hot mess. There was also guilt. I felt bad every time. It made me feel worse about whatever I was yelling about as well as what I was doing to the kids. I started noticing that the kids were yelling at each other too! This was my fault. I can’t yell at them to stop yelling, that doesn’t even make sense. My very own behavior taught them it’s ok.
Family Meeting = let’s get serious
Our house felt like chaos. It was out of hand, in my opinion, and I hated it. I called a family meeting. I was single at the time and I had the kids sit down in the living room. First I apologized for getting into such a bad habit. I apologized for how it must make them feel and I explained how bad it made me feel. I pointed out how it made us all feel when they yelled at each other too. Then we ended our meeting with how we were gong to stop doing it. I explained that it was going to take some time to change the habit though. We were all going to make a mistake at some point but we would keep working on it. This was the turning point folks.
For several weeks after that meeting I still had moments I lost it. They were less moments than before though. Telling my kids out loud that I was going to stop yelling made it a lot harder to yell. Sometimes I wouldn’t even realize I was doing it and the cutest little 5 year old would say something like “Mom, you’re not spose to yell anymore”. If that doesn’t stop you in you in your tracks you might be a lost cause after all.
There was a second part to this thing. Every time I yelled after that family meeting I would go back to the kids and ask them to forgive me. I would explain that I messed up and I really do want to do better. If I had yelled because I was mad I might have to wait a little bit to cool down first. Even if they did something wrong and deserved whatever it was saying, I would apologize. That had been an excuse I’d used at one point. They did something wrong so I couldn’t undermine my own authority by apologizing for yelling about it. That excuse had to go or I would never break this habit. So, I would explain that they were still in trouble but I was wrong to yell about it.
This apologizing to little kids business was not fun. Although, I admire their willingness to forgive so freely. I must have apologized over and over again for doing the exact same thing a hundred times in those few months. Every single time I did, these big eyes would be looking back at me so lovingly. I got “it’s ok” and hugs and kisses from them. Never once did they say, yea I heard that before. Some of us grown-ups could take notes from our kids. After a few months of this it worked! It’s funny, I just remember hearing someone else yell and it hit me that we didn’t do that anymore. Our house was peaceful. The kids weren’t yelling at each other either.
This method of calling out your habit works in a lot of areas. When we only tell our self that we will do better next time it just seems we don’t hold up to it. Verbalizing it to someone else allows us to feel accountable. This method works for other bad habits too. Gossip for instance. First tell your group of friends, family or co-workers that you want to cut out the gossiping you fell into the habit of. Then when you find yourself doing it again stop, apologize and change the subject. In no time you will see that habit fall away. Maybe your vice is negativism. Only having negative things to say can consume a whole human being. You’ve met those types and it’s miserable to be around them, right. Self evaluate and if you notice something you want to change, try calling it out.
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