Are you a yeller when it comes to your kids? Do you find yourself screaming at them almost all the time? You only told them to clean after themselves fifty times, but who’s counting … So you scream, because when you use your normal, human voice, they seem to somehow be immune to it and not hear you at all? Do you feel like a failure every time you raise your voice? Why don’t they just listen?
It’s a million dollar question. You’ve explained the rules, you’ve shown them what to do, how to make the bed, how to put the dirty clothes away in the hamper. You’ve repeated the instructions again and again. They are smart. They speak English. They make appropriate eye contact and nod as if they understand. And then something happens, and things go wrong again.
So you scream. And they don’t even care, it seems. They got used to it. The screaming now is the new “normal” voice. And you got conditioned, like the Pavlov’s dog – you see your children and you start raising your voice.
I stopped screaming when I got a glimpse of my face in the living room’s mirror. I was in the process of explaining for the hundredth time why the cat litter had to be changed regularly. I looked like a possessed person in need of immediate exorcism. I scared myself. And I thought: “This is how they going to remember me – looking like a monster!”
So I started to train my voice. I stopped the Pavlov’s reaction and forced myself to speak in a human voice with a smile on my face. That’s right. With a smile because I realized that I loved them to death, and I wouldn’t want anyone who says they love me to scream at me. I’d expect patience, kindness and help. I’d feel horrible if I messed up again, but if my mom just smiled and asked me to do it again, I’d be so relieved!
Words can kill, tear down and destroy. Our children are not perfect, neither are we. No one yells at us, though, when we mess up. Words can build up, inspire and motivate. The right words can do wonders to our children’s self-esteem. Communication is a skill that needs to be practiced by us, parents, and taught to our kids.
Next time you feel your heartbeat rising and your voice getting louder – step out. Remove yourself from the room and calm yourself down. Do not speak to your children when you are angry. You tend to speak faster in anger and you might say things you didn’t really mean.
One more piece of advice. This is a technique I used with my children. It’s called a “One Minute Rule”. When you are calm enough to talk to your child, get down to their level and for 30 seconds you tell them what they did wrong, why was it wrong, and what should they have done instead. You’d be surprised how many wise words you can fit in in such a short period of time! Then, for the next 30 seconds you hug them and tell them how much you love them.
You finish with a kiss and a smile. Expect wonders!