The No Yell Experiment

Last week there were two days in a row when I yelled at Julian. For mostly dumb reasons (not that there are great reasons to lose your temper with your three year old). Like annoying his brother during nap time and ruining that precious, holy break for everyone. Or for normal antics of a three year old that just drove me up the wall.

As opposed to what you read in the literatures on the childrens and stuffs, Julian usually responds to yelling in the “right” way. He’s not distraught, he can hear me, and he usually starts obeying. That said, I still feel tiny and awful and go to bed with a big pit in my stomach.

So I did some reading and came across this article and that article again and thought to myself: If I can motivate to work out every damn day of the week (this means getting up an hour before the kids do), I should be able to come up with enough self discipline to not yell at my preshus children.

I set myself the goal not to yell for one week. That means to never raise my voice out of frustration, ever. I made a little purple heart on my calendar for every day that I succeeded. I chose purple because it was the first pen I could find amidst Julian’s art supplies. The ridiculousness of awarding myself a “purple heart” only presented itself once I had gotten started. So to anyone who might be offended: Sorry. I was really going for orange.

Day 1 was a breeze. And once I saw that I could do it, it was no big deal at all. Except on the second day, I yelled out “Arthur!” once in dismay because he kicked a diaper loaded with poop off the changing table. Perhaps I should revisit the “no yelling rule” because when it comes to poop, it seems anything is fair game.

In general I have to say that everyone was calmer and happier. Most of all me. I went to bed with no regrets, no shame, no frustrations.

Here is what I learned and/or reminded myself of:

  1. Take a break when I need it. Julian and Arthur are getting pretty good at playing by themselves. So rather than letting the never-ending demands and constant talking wear down my patience, I just take a step back and do something for myself or around the house. Or better yet: we go outside.
  2. My three year old is acting like a three year old. Most of Julian’s behavior is very typical, three year old behavior. It’s nothing to get my panties all in a bunch about. That’s not to say that I accept bad behavior. I don’t. In my opinion I am fairly strict. I’m just strict with a collected mind.
  3. My boys are my most important audience. I got that from one of the articles I linked to above. It’s so true. I don’t ever yell in public. Because I want people to think that I am the good, patient mother that I am. Because yelling is embarrassing. So if I can do it there, then I should be able to keep cool at home, right? Right.
  4. We are all people. People who have feelings. People who have good and bad days. Julian will have bad days, and so will I. He’s always compassionate with me when I don’t feel good and the first to offer a hug or rub my back. I should have the same empathy when he’s feeling off. He is three and doesn’t always have the right way to express himself. So sometimes he does so by acting out.
  5. Try a different approach. When I didn’t resort to being harsh and barking quick commands at my kid (yes, sad, I know.), I had to look for another way to solve the situation. It really helped to sit down with him on his level, make him look me in the eyes, make sure he listens, and make him repeat back what I was trying to get him to understand. Or to just put my arm around him and tell him that I understand. I understand that it’s frustrating that you may not play with your new toy the really expensive Dyson fan your father just bought. And even though I just wanted to snap, “STOP TOUCHING IT ALREADY! STOPIT!”, once I took a deep breath I really did understand. Why wouldn’t he want to play with it. It’s an awesome toy fan.

So now it’s been 7 days of no yelling. I’m kind of pleased with my experiment. I’m gonna keep going. Of course I just started two weeks of solo parenting while Jeff is frolicking working in LA, but I won’t let that deter me. It’s just a great excuse to take the boys out for pizza, ice cream, and hamburgers (yay! no kitchen clean-up!) alllll week long.


6 thoughts on “The No Yell Experiment

  1. I love this experiment of yours! I have two little beasts (sorry, daughers) ;). Ages 7 & 2.5. Their fighting is unbearable. I have to admit, the meanie-Mommy comes out. I’m going to start today and see if I can make it a week without yelling. It’s 8:41am and I haven’t yelled yet so I’m off to a great start. I like red btw. 😉 Thanks again!

  2. It’s hard. It’s so hard. Sometimes my
    older one just wants to press your button. The Younger one seems to be taking advantage of being the baby… Or sometimes he just can’t grasp the way things work.

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