- David O. McKay
This quote popped up online the other day and it has been sitting with me ever since. Neither James nor I are constant yellers, but lately there has been much more than we'd like. Granted, our tempers are short due to stress, lack of sleep, illness, pregnancy and work overload, but if I deep down felt like any of these were adequate excuses, then this quote wouldn't be sitting on my mind so heavily.
The problem lately has been raised voices over insignificant things. Two things are the big culprits: kids not listening and toys underfoot.
The kids not listening is a half-and-half problem, meaning that half the time it's the kids fault, and half the time James or I haven't given them appropriate instructions. Either way, we really do want to learn to encourage our kids with softer tones. It works a thousand times better anyway, so I don't know why we resort to yelling.
Case in point: last night Benjamin was being a little imp at bedtime. For two hours he kept slipping out of his bedroom and coming downstairs. We threatened, we yelled, we put him in his high chair, we ignored him, we fed him...all to no avail. Finally, at 10pm, I took him upstairs into his bedroom and shut the door behind us. Then, in the dark (and with Caleb sleeping in the same room) I proceeded to quietly, calmly and gently explain to Benjamin that it was bedtime. He screamed and thrashed and cried. I kept my cool, and in that same calm tone kept repeating myself: his soother was in his bed, he could have it when he lied down, it was dark outside and nighttime, it was time to go to sleep. It took 45 minutes before he exhausted himself, but eventually he climbed into bed. He tested me more than a few times by claiming the soother in bed, then inching his feet toward the floor. I held my ground and plucked the soother from his mouth the moment one toe hit the floor. 5 more minutes and he gave in. I rubbed his back and sang soft lullabies. Finally he was asleep.
(I had to repeat the procedure from midnight until 2 am, when he was screaming to sleep in my bed. He'd been sleeping with me at night the last week because he was so sick and waking constantly unable to breathe through his stuffy nose. So hard to break those "exceptions" we allow for!)
The lesson learned was that my soothing voice worked infinitely better and faster than yelling at him to get back in bed.
The toy issue is one we're still dealing with, trying to teach the kids to put things away after they play with them. We are actually not bad in the consistency department here. I don't let the kids go to bed without tidying the playroom. And once we do our next purge, hopefully with fewer toys it will be easier to keep clean.
You see? There are answers to everything. The implementation can be tough, but worthwhile. Hopefully there will be a lot less yelling in our house now, unless, of course, there is a fire.