|Photo by Probably Okay, Used under the Creative Commons License|
Hi, My name is Amelia and I am a (reformed) yeller. I didn't used to yell at my kids. I used to be calm and gentle all the time...way, way, way back when I only had one child.
Ever since I got pregnant with my first child, I've always believed very strongly in gentle discipline. Not to open up a can of worms, but we don't spank or us any corporal punishments. I've always felt very strongly against that, although I do know some some wonderful parents who I respect very much that do so. However, for myself, I've always felt that spanking was wrong..that it's not respectful and that it's not effective, so I don't do it.
I own and have read so many gentle discipline books...Raising your Spirited Child, Unconditional Parenting, How to Talk so Your Kids Will Listen Listen so Your Kids Will Talk, Adventures in Gentle Discipline, The Discipline Book.
Heck..I'm even quoted in Adventures in Gentle Discipline.
I knew how not to discipline...but I didn't know how to do so. I don't like punishing or disciplining my children. I just don't...it hurts me to do so. So, I started yelling instead of really disciplining. I'd yell empty threats...but never follow through. I'd yell, instead of doing the hard work of actually teaching right from wrong. It was easier to yell from where I was, then to get up, look a child in the eye and calmly speak to them.
The thing is..yelling certainly isn't gentle..and it's not respectful, and it's certainly not effective. But, I justified it by telling myself, Well, at least I'm not spanking or All parents yell sometimes or I'm so stressed, I can't help it.
But, the thing is, I CAN help it..and I CAN stop yelling. This year for Lent, I decided to give up yelling.. And, I discovered something...I CAN do this. I CAN be the gentle, calm, rational mother I want to be.
Now, it's only been a few days...but a strange thing happened when I stopped yelling and started making an effort to speak always in a calm and rational manner. My kids started listening better and responding better and behaving better. They actually PREFER to be justly punished (usually by losing privileges) than to be yelled at.
I mentioned this to my wonderful, awesome husband, who is always a gentle and loving father and he said something that really stuck with me. He said
Of course, they prefer punishment over yelling. Yelling is not respectful and not just, while punishment is just.
For example. when a certain someone was balking at writing her English essay and doing school...it was way more just and respectful to temporarily take away her library books which were the source of her distraction than it would have been to just yell or make empty threats.
I've also discovered something else in my few days of not yelling. Patience begets patience...and trying to actively cultivate a spirit of patience and gentleness helps me BE more patient and gentle. For example. when a certain someone was throwing a major tantrum in his room last night, I found I actually had to patience to go in and get him and read him a story to help him calm down.
And, being more patient and gentle with my kids, has helped me to be more patient and gentle with MYSELF.
It's not easy, and I know there will be slip-ups...but this Lent, I am really focusing on calm, quiet speaking and just and merciful discipline. God Help Me...I know I'll need it, but it's what I need to do and what my children deserve.