Last week, I called my husband with tears in my eyes and guilt on my back. “I can’t do this anymore. I quit!”
My vision of the perfect summer with my kids was completely squashed. At 7 and 3, they are both very independent. They adore and hate each other in the same breath. They will play side-by-side or together and it will seem like the world is alright, but when the arguing starts…it doesn’t stop.
I should preface this by telling you that my daughter is a screamer. She has been since she was born. We gave my son headphones to wear when she would get going as a babe to keep him smiling near his new sister.
She brought out the screamer in me, and my son, and my husband. Everyone is screaming.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it isn’t her fault. It is just the way it happened and I reacted. We all reacted.
When I called my husband, I was at my wit’s end. There had been nothing but screaming for days. I couldn’t take anymore. I was tired; emotionally and physically spent.
I kept telling myself to rise above the clamor, to soothe their nerves and teach them to calm themselves and to compromise with one another. Work to solve the problem and then the problem is solved. I have read the books, the posts, been to the classes. It. Should. Work. It wasn’t.
It always started with me using the skills I was taught and then, after I was worn down, there would be screaming, tears, apologies, hugs and cuddles. This wasn’t a cycle I wanted to continue. I couldn’t live my life feeling frayed.
And then I read THIS post. Amanda, from Dirt and Boogers, wrote about the importance of physical reminders. She created little yellow hearts all over her house as reminders not to yell. She was inspired by another favorite, Alissa from Creative with Kids.
I decided to try it. I needed something, but the thought of hearts everywhere wasn’t working for me. I am a physical person. I need to be removed from a situation to get clarity.
While my son and daughter started bickering over a Ninjago character’s head, I walked over to their art table, grabbed a piece of yellow construction paper and a pair of their kiddie scissors. I folded the paper in half and started cutting. Immediately, I had their attention. “What are you making mama?” “Just keep watching”, I responded. I won’t lie. I was shaking and crying as I was cutting out the heart.
When the heart was done, I placed it on the table and asked them what it was. “A pretty yellow heart! I love it!”, gushed my daughter.
“I’m glad you love it, because it is going to live in our house.” I walked over to the wall in the center of our house and taped it up there. “What are you doing?”, asked my son.
“I am putting this heart here because I care about you, I care about your sister and I don’t want to yell anymore. I don’t want to yell anymore because I care about you and I love you.”
I explained that there wouldn’t be anymore yelling in our house. If we felt like we were going to yell, we would walk to the heart and place our hand on it. We would breathe and count to 5 and then walk in the other direction until we felt composed.
As arguments started over the course of the day, I would ask one or both of the kids to “put their hand on the heart”. I used it three times, before I ever allowed myself to get angry and my kids watched me walk to the wall, place my hand on the heart and catch my breath.
This morning, I felt myself getting frustrated while we were heading to the car with soccer gear flying in all directions. I pictured the heart, kept walking and placed my hand over my own heart. Three days in and I still get teary every time I use it. I know I am making a commitment to my family and to myself each time I choose that yellow heart over anger and frustration.
We have been using it and it works for us. I am sharing in case it might work for you. It is a hopeless feeling to get angry with the people you love the most in the world.
I owe a heartfelt “thank you” to Alissa and Amanda for changing the dynamics in our home.
Please visit Alissa’s post: The Day I Realized I Was Bullying My Kids and Amanda’s post: How to Stop Yelling: a simple tip that works to read the inspiration behind this post and to see their interpretations. In addition, Amanda has started a Facebook group called “The Stop Yelling Challenge” and she has a great way to put inspirational mantras around your house.
If you need help finding mantras, Shawn from The Abundant Mama Project shared these on BonBon Break a couple of years back and I visit them frequently.
Don’t give up. You can do this.
This post was written by Val Curtis exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC
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