June 3, 2014

Top Ten Things To Do Instead of Yelling

Nobody is listening. Nothing is going as planned. Nobody is doing what they're told. Nothing is going right. Nobody is cooperating.

It sounds like a recipe for yelling.

Nothing gets my blood boiling faster than things not going the way I want/need/planned them to. Not all the time. But when conditions are right (i.e. Mommy's tired, stressed, etc.), look out.

It happened just today. It was actually what prompted a change in this week's Top Ten Tuesday post. Another battle of wills between mom and child.

I had a plan. In order to leave for the pool in time to get a reasonable amount of time there before coming home for dinner, we needed to get my son's nap in a little early. Everything was going according to plan...until it wasn't. Apparently my son did not get the memo...that I sent out...in triplicate.

As we sat in the chair in his room, me encouraging sleep, him fighting it (despite being tired), I could feel my blood start to boil. I could feel my shoulder's tense. I knew what was coming. I tried (sort of) to fight it. I kept it at bay for a while. But then, when he started clapping instead of dozing, I burst. I barked out an order. (Something to the effect of "Go to sleep now or no pool!") He jumped with surprise and then started to cry. I now felt frustrated and angry...and guilty and stupid. (What a bully I am, yelling at a 3 year old.)

Eventually, we both calmed down and he went to sleep, and we all got to the pool just fine. But I sat in the chair in his room with him sleeping on me and thought long and hard about yelling. Why I do it and how to stop.

Yelling is like evening snacking for me, I know when I'm about to do it that it's not a good idea...but then I do it anyway...and feel bad about it afterwards.

So, how to stop?

Of course the best course of action is to change your mindset so that you never get to the point of "about to yell." (Lower the bar and let good enough be good enough. Let it go. Etc.) But, while we're working on that, another course of action is to interrupt the cycle exactly at that point of "about to yell." You can feel it in your body when it's about to happen...the frustration rising, the impending explosion. Right at that moment, step in and change your reaction to that feeling. Instead of yelling, try doing one of these ten things. Then, once the feeling has passed and you've calmed down, go back and address the situation that incited the yell response in the first place.

And by the way, this isn't limited to interaction with your kids. It works when you're stuck in traffic behind some *!^##(&. Or any other time your blood gets boiling.

So here we go with today's top ten list...

Top Ten Things To Do Instead of Yelling

10. Take a time out (remove yourself from the situation until you've calmed down: step outside, go in the garage, close yourself into a closet or bathroom; and stay there until you're rational and sane again)
9. Sing (sing anything; sing a nursery rhyme; sing the reason you're upset like an opera singer; sing a silly, made-up song)
8. Dance (dance like a fool; nothing interrupts the yelling cycle like blatant silliness; do anything super silly; this also works when you force yourself to laugh like a crazy person...eventually the laughter will turn from a forced act to genuine laughter)
7. Whisper (gently whisper instead of yelling; but it doesn't count if you do it through gritted teeth...sometimes that's scarier than yelling)
6. Run...around the room or around the block (how far you go depends on how worked-up you are; you can also do jumping jacks or push-ups)
5. Say positive thoughts or a mantra or prayer out loud (like Hands Free Mama, Rachel Macy Stafford's "Only love today"; repeat it over and over until you've calmed down.)
4. Splash cool water on your face/light a scented candle/massage your neck and head
3. Drink an entire glass of water (by the time you're done, your outburst potential is diminished)
2. Do 4-Square Breathing (Breath in for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts; repeat 4 times.)
1. Show affection instead of anger. When you feel overwhelmed by the urge to yell, hug and kiss instead. Say "I love you. I love you. I love you." over and over again unit you feel THAT feeling, instead of frustration or anger.

Try interrupting the yelling cycle and I promise you'll like yourself better when you do. Remember, Only love today.

Until next time, go sing: "For the love of all that's goooooood and hoooooooooly in this woooooooorld, pleeeeeeeease pick up your soooooooooocks off the floooooooooor! God made for you a haaaaaaaaaaaaampeeeeeeeeeer. Uuuuuuuuuuuse iiiiiiiiit!"...like an opera singer.

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