52 (new!) Alternatives to Yelling at your kids!

199 days without yelling, 166 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

I said it before and I’ll say it again. I am NOT an expert on how not to yell. I am not a therapist. I don’t have a background in childhood behavior. And I don’t read books and books on end telling me how not to yell. Nope, I have no credentials whatsoever on this topic. No extra letters next to my name, well except for M.O.M.M.Y. Mom On (a) Mission to Master (not) Yelling! On the eve of the 2nd Orange Rhino Challenge Day I thought I would share with you the top 50 things embarrassing, emotional, and well, outright obvious things I have done lately to “master” not yelling. Have a laugh with me, or at me, and maybe even be inspired to try not to yell too! Enjoy!  

Fun Alternatives (Added bonus: you all end up laughing and new, better behavior is obtained!):
1)   Play hide ‘n seek. You hide. They seek (a fun game can snap anyone out of it)
2)   Put funny glasses on and “look” through their eyes  (they laugh, you find empathy )
3)   Give a High Five (The “slap” and touch of their hands slaps you out of desire to yell)
4)   Try to do a somersault (makes you laugh and maybe even pee your pants. Nope. I have never had that problem after delivering 4 kids.)
5)   Speak in a Robot voice (makes kids stop and look at you and wonder, who is she?!)
6)   Start Playing with the kids or do what they are doing (makes you CHILL OUT and realize they are JUST kids and maybe they are on to something?)

If you can’t beat them…join them! So they took the watermelon out without asking. So they starting eating it like pigs. Guess what? Watermelon was just what a needed that hot afternoon!

7)   Grab children and hug them (it just feels good all over for everyone!)
8)   Start doing “crab walks” (entertaining and exercise releases good chemicals or something like that!)
9)   Start coloring (calming and fun and wicked huge bonus: inspires kids to join you instead of punching each other
10)  Bang a pot or pan (releases anger and gets kids involved in new activity)
11)  Start running in place (adrenaline boost for you and kids who follow suit!)
12)  Run over and tickle child you want to yell at (laughter does the body good)
13)  Drop to the floor and pretend you are hurt (rest does wonders and makes kids come “attack you” I mean check you out with doctor’s kit.)
14)  Go read 50 Shades of Grey (did I just write that?! Next subject. Blush. Blush.)
15)  Whistle. Loudly. (helps you focus on breathing)
16)  Hum. Even louder than whistle (really annoys kids and gets them to change from yelling to telling you to stop!)

Yummy Alternatives:
17) Keep orange snacks in purse (chewing something is way better than yelling)

Purse basics: Wallet, Phone, Wipes, Notebook for coloring AND orange snacks to chew so I don’t yell!

Gum and Tic Tacs. Added bonus to gum? The sound of chewing blocks out kids yelling…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18)  Pop some orange M&M’s into mouth (chocolate is a great mood changer)!
19)  Eat frozen grapes and pretend kids are sleeping and the grapes are wine (okay, it’s a stretch but reaching into freezer snapped me out of my moods!)
20)  Eat a carrot or an apple (fabulous way to crunch out stress and orange carrots great reminder of commitment not to yell!)

“Only if it is Safe to do so” Alternatives (which in my house is hardly ever):
21)  Sit down and “watch” the circus to gain perspective and to laugh (wait is my house the only one like a circus?)
22)  Put ear buds in and zone out to music for a minute (gain perspective, relax)
23)  Close your eyes and put your head in hands in disbelief. Nope I have NEVER done this either. As if. (another chance to pull it together quietly and to laugh at yourself!)
24)  Open a window or two or three and breathe in fresh air (kids laugh, is she a dog?!)
25)  Close eyes and picture yourself on a beach, a really really really quiet beach where no one asks you to do something. Oh, and picture a daiquiri in hand and imagine waking up at 10. Or 11. Snap out of it Orange Rhino! You need to keep writing. Darnit…I was really happy in my happy place…

“Stress Relief” Alternatives (in other words, pretend you are at a spa):
26)  Splash cold water on your face (snaps you right out of bad mood)
27)  Put a warm wash cloth on your neck (ah…relaxation)
28)  Light a candle, ideally an orange or pretty smelling one (gets kids attention…what are you doing? and relaxes your mood)

Notice my candle is by the sink filled with dishes? Yup my candle normally gets lit at meal time….

29)  Use aromatherapy lotion on hands instead of slamming a door in frustration (massage and smell are relaxing)
30)  Drink a glass of water. Resist the urge to throw it if annoying behavior is still going on! (cools you down and forces you to take a breath. Or two. )
31)  Think how things could be worse (gain perspective. yes he’s on the table, but at least he isn’t swinging from the chandelier. Yet.)
32)  Grab play-doh and squeeze really, really hard (don’t forget to share it when kids want it back!)
33)  Go through yelling motions but don’t let voice out (shocks kids and yourself that you didn’t do it, releases endorphins from pride!)

 


“You’ll think I am cheesy” Alternatives:

34)  Say out loud “Serenity Now.”
35)  Say out loud “They are just kids and I love them.”
36)  Say out loud “I want to love my kids more, not less.”
37)  Call a family council meeting and have everyone sit criss- cross applesauce, decide on a new activity together. (forces kids to stop and think and therefore BE quiet, like in school.)
38)  Look at TV and pretend there is a hidden camera. (fear of judgment will shove the yell right back down your throat…)
39)  Smile (rumor has it if you fake it, you’ll feel it?! it’s worked wonders over here.)
40)  Cry. Yup cry. Show your kids you are frustrated. (brings out empathy from kiddos)
41)  Say positive thoughts out loud (forces you to see good and therefore to be kind)
42)  Pull out family photo album (takes everyone to a happy, smiley place)
43)  Tell your kids how you feel (gets concern and teaches them to express feelings!)

“I don’t know how to categorize” Alternatives:
44)  Put a finger over mouth in shhh position (creates physical barrier to yelling)
45)  Ring a bell like pre-school teachers (casts a magical spell on kids)
46)  Look at this cheat sheet! (gives you ideas or makes you laugh?!)
47)  If help is around, tag out. (gives you a well-deserved break!)

Preventive Alternatives (surround yourself with reminders that you don’t want to yell):
48) Paint your nails orange (reminds you every morning to be warm and composed and yes, I am this committed to this Challenge that I did this. What can I say, it was a hard week!)

I need all the reminders I can get!!!

49)  Dress your kids in orange (a totally in your face reminder, great at big, busy, stressful public places)

50)  Post pictures you love of kids in problem areas (forces you to fall in love all over again)

Kids out of bed…again? Put a picture of them as a sweet baby on the door. It’s hard to yell when you see an innocent picture of them!

 
51)  Drink from an Orange Straw (simply reminds you of the color orange, feelings of warmth!)

52) Log on to www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino when you feel the “yell” bubble rising (releases tension by typing, so long as you don’t break keyboard, and helps you find support).

So there you have it. 50 new things I have done in addition to the other 50 I did in the first 100 days (read here). It hasn’t been easy. WHOA NO it hasn’t been. But it’s been worth all the hard work and patience and creativity because my kids are worth it. They deserve me to try my best to treat them with more love and less yelling!

 

I hope you got a good laugh and are inspired to join me tomorrow for just one day of not yelling. Join me in the 2nd Orange Rhino Challenge day on Wednesday August 29th!

For more details on The Orange Rhino Challenge click here. For more details on what The Orange Rhino is click here. For how to participate in the Challenge tomorrow and help contribute to Habitat for Humanity…click here or read below!

***

How to Participate in The 2nd Orange Rhino Challenge Day on WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2012

1) Get 3-5 friends to take this ONE DAY challenge with you by sharing this blog post and making a pact to do it together. 

2) “Post” your name to show your participation and so people beyond your friends can support you! On the morning of August 29th check in one of four ways:
Post at The Orange Rhino Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino)
Comment on Thursday mornings Blog Post at www.TheOrangeRhino.com
– Email me at theorangerhinochallenge@gmail.com
– Tweet me at ORchallenge.

At the end of the day, Post AGAIN to say how the day went. For every participant I will donate $1.00 to Habitat for Humanity up to $200. Read here for explanation!

3) Increase your Support Network by Changing your FB Profile picture to The Orange Rhino Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

4) Find Support and Give Support all day by logging on to your method of communication. 

5) Read some of these posts to inspire you to succeed and to give you ideas on how to!

http://theorangerhino.com/the-challenge-details/ (definition of yelling per this challenge)
http://theorangerhino.com/why-i-yelled-at-my-kids/ (big inspiration to try)
http://theorangerhino.com/50-alternatives-to-yelling-at-your-kids/ (ideas on how not to yell)
http://theorangerhino.com/orange-rhino-mommy/ (my favorite source of help not yelling) http://theorangerhino.com/you-never-know/ (inspirationto try)
http://theorangerhino.com/why-the-big-tears/ (way not to yell, inspiration)
***Check back in tomorrow night for a new 50 alternatives to yelling!
It’s that simple. Take a chance. You might just surprise yourself. I know I did!

“You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

GOOD LUCK!

The 2nd Orange Rhino Challenge Day: This Wednesday!

MARK your calendars!
TELL your friends!
FACEBOOK it!
BLOG it!
TWEET it!
PIN it!

Whatever you do just SHARE (this post) with your friends, your family, your co-workers, and maybe even the barista at Starbucks and the clerk in the grocery store that this

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2012 is the 2nd Orange Rhino Challenge Day!
A day where we all try to go without yelling at our kids!
A day where we all love our kids more!
A day where I will donate $1.00* per person who participates to Habitat for Humanity (*details below)

Think it can’t be done? Think you can’t go a day? You CAN DO IT. I never, in a thousand worlds thought I could go a day. Or 10. Or 100. Or even 200. But here I am two days away from celebrating 200 days of not yelling, proof that it can be done!

Has it been hard and taken a few tries? Yes.
Has it been worth it? HECK YEAH!
Should you give it a try? Double heck yeah!!!

Why? Because there is only upside! There is the chance you can feel what I have felt from this experience: exhilaration, pride, less guilt, more calm, and lots ‘o joy!

Intrigued? Ready to try out The Orange Rhino Challenge for JUST ONE DAY? Here’s how you can participate THIS WEDNESDAY:

1) Get 3-5 friends to take this ONE DAY challenge with you by sharing this blog post and making a pact to do it together.
Having support will help you make it through the day. Text each other and support each other when you want to yell. This is how I survived my first week pre-blog! Plus the accountability of them knowing your goal works wonders!

2) “Post” your name to show your participation and so people beyond your friends can support you! On the morning of August 29th check in one of four ways:
Post at The Orange Rhino Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino)
Comment on Thursday mornings Blog Post at www.TheOrangeRhino.com
– Email me at theorangerhinochallenge@gmail.com
– Tweet me at ORchallenge.

At the end of the day, Post AGAIN to say how the day went.

3) Increase your Support Network by Changing your FB Profile picture to The Orange Rhino Challenge image to spread the word and to get people asking you about what you are doing further getting you support! It’s amazing how people rooting for you can really help. Go to the BUTTON picture in the right column of my blog and Save As. Then upload it to FB as your profile picture. Or Save this image:

Make me your FB profile picture this Wednesday!

4) Find Support and Give Support all day by logging on to your method of communication. Feel like yelling? Yell at me. Need advice on how to survive the day? Ask the community. Want encouragement? Seek it from us. This is a day for all parents who want to be Orange Rhinos, who want to be parents who have the energy and determination to forge ahead and parent with more composure and warmth and without the yelling, to support each other.

 

5) Read some of these posts to inspire you to succeed and to give you ideas on how to succeed!

http://theorangerhino.com/the-challenge-details/
(definition of yelling per this challenge)

http://theorangerhino.com/why-i-yelled-at-my-kids/ (big inspiration to try)

http://theorangerhino.com/50-alternatives-to-yelling-at-your-kids/

(ideas on how not to yell)

http://theorangerhino.com/orange-rhino-mommy/
 (my favorite source of help not yelling)

http://theorangerhino.com/you-never-know/
 (inspiration to try)

http://theorangerhino.com/why-the-big-tears/
 (way not to yell, inspiration)

***Check back in tomorrow night at www.TheOrangeRhino.com for a new 50 alternatives to yelling!

It’s that simple. Take a chance. You might just surprise yourself. I know I did!

“You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

*

I’ve gotten so much out of this Challenge and from the support from all of the other Orange Rhinos that it is time to give back. FOR EVERY PERSON that participates by “posting” I will DONATE $1.00 per person up to $200 to Habitat for Humanity. Why Habitat? Well, if it weren’t for my being able to do home improvements to my house, I would never have had the Epiphany (http://theorangerhino.com/the-epiphany/) that started this Challenge in the first place. And if it wasn’t for my Epiphany I never would have experienced these feelings:

1. Exhilaration & Pride
– Knowing that I can find other ways to communicate, that I can do something hard is exhilarating. When I walk away from a moment without yelling I truly get a natural high from feeling good about myself (which by the way is often hard to achieve as a mom)! Added bonus? Pride from knowing that I am teaching my kids how to positively handle a situation and that I am loving them more, not less!

2. Less Guilt – Mama guilt be gone! There are so many things I wish I did better as a mom. But the biggest one, wishing I didn’t yell, has been removed. I no longer feel guilty about being a yeller because I am not one. The weight that has been lift is beyond freeing. It’s amazing.

3. More Calm – Yelling always raised my blood pressure and got me even more agitated than my current state. (Okay, well I don’t know if it did for sure but based on my bright red face am my racing heart I am going to assume it did). Not raising my voice has done wonders for how I physically feel!

4. Lots and lots ‘o Joy – Not yelling has forced me to be nicer. Period. This has led to many more loving moments with my boys because I am forced to be more empathetic, patient and loving with them. Added bonus? They are also more loving towards me now! I feel SO MUCH BETTER about myself as a parent and I know my kids feel so much better about me as a mom. It’s a win win, it’s joy all around! Add in feeling calmer and “lighter” and I find that I really am enjoying their company more.

Right now you’re probably thinking, yeah, this is all great but is all the Energy, Patience and Hard Work that one puts into not yelling worth it? Yes.

Besides the obvious reasons about how not yelling is better for my children, there is one benefit I never expected. My life feels richer now. I know it sounds hokey, trust me, I know. I am the first person to call something hokey. But it is true.

Because now that I am not yelling, I have shared some truly remarkable moments with my kids that I know wouldn’t have happened pre-challenge because I would have been too busy yelling at them. Like when I found my son in my bed after bedtime. I wanted to scream because I was so done with the day. But instead I asked him, What is going on? And he replied,

“Mommy, will you love me when I go to heaven? Mommy, will love me when you go to heaven?”

This heart wrenching but wonderful conversation never would have happened if I were still yelling. This is just one of the many moments gained from not yelling. Who knows, maybe you’ll have one on Wednesday?

So just try it. It took me just 1 day of not yelling at kids to realize that while hard, YES I COULD learn to not yell at them. And so you can you.

www.TheOrangeRhino.com
www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino

I can’t yell for 365 days…but I can still pick my nose! 

 

How to YELL at your kids without really trying!

197 days without yelling, 168 days of loving more to go!

Dear Friends and Family,

I have done some serious research these last 197 days and now share with you the official Orange Rhino tested and approved 15 Rules to follow to ensure that you too set yourself up to be in the kind of mood all day that makes you want to yell at anything and everything! Whether you do one of the following or all of them, if you are anything like me, you too can feel the desire to yell numerous times throughout the day!

* Do not try these at home if you want to make it through the day without yelling. If you find yourself doing one, tell yourself immediately that is why you are cranky and then find the strength to fix it. Pronto.

** Your triggers might be slightly different than mine. Your own research and acknowledgement of your triggers will allow you too to have your own set of official Orange Rhino “How to Yell” Rules!

Enjoy!
The Orange Rhino

*

Rule 1: Go to bed late so when the kids wake YOU up you are tired, cranky, and grumpy. This will guarantee that you are more annoyed at how slow the kids get dressed, more annoyed at the mess that are their bedrooms and MUCH more intolerant to the level of noise that well-rested kids bring.

Rule 2:  Don’t do any preparations for the next day the night before. Don’t set out breakfast plates and silverware, pack kids’ backpacks, write to-do list etc…. This way when you are running late (which you will be because of Step 1) you fall even more behind schedule and feel the need to yell at your kids to go faster, which by the way, won’t work, so you’ll want to yell even louder and longer.

Rule 3: Eat a really crappy breakfast (and lunch…and dinner) so that you a) feel guilty about what you ate b) feel physically gross from what you ate and c) feel pissed that you overate, again. This will definitely ensure massive crabbiness and mood swings.

Rule 4: Forget that your kids are JUST kids and that they are still LEARNING even if they seem more grown up than a few months ago. Go ahead and ask them to do all sorts of things they struggle with like making the bed, sitting still during a meal, cleaning up an entire playroom on their own, controlling their temper. When they are struggling, don’t even bother to stop and help them because you assume they need to learn and that they’ll get it someday. Instead bark orders at them to hurry up, to get it together. Their lack of response will infuriate you and certainly make your throat start to itch to scream.

Rule 5: Take Rule 4 even further. When you ask them in the first place to do something, make sure to do so when they are busy and playing. Added bonus if they are really into their activity and really really having a fun time. Don’t give them a heads up or warning that a transition is coming, just ask and expect. Oh, second added bonus. Make sure to ask them from across the room while you too are busy multi-tasking. This way they really won’t hear you and will really be un-inclined to cooperate.

Rule 6: Think to yourself how your kids misbehave, how they drive you nuts, how they always fight without stopping to think about how often they do behave, how often you are overwhelmed with love, how often they do play together. The more negative you think, the worse you’ll feel, the worse you’ll perceive their behavior, the worse off you’ll all be. Trust me.

Rule 7: Take Rule 5 even further and call your friend or your mom and talk out loud about your issues so that you really focus on the negative without trying to find the positive.

Rule 8: Dwell all day on one thing that you can’t control, can’t change. Don’t accept it and move on, instead think about how much it annoys you. Better yet, dwell for a few days, or even a week or more about something that is bothering you that you can change but don’t have the strength or courage to. This way when your kids ask you a simple, innocent question you’ll be pre-occupied and will snap, or worse.

Rule 9: Ignore help. Don’t ask for it. Try to do it all on your own. And when you are really struggling, definitely don’t ask for help. Keep trying to prove to yourself you can do it which by the way, you might be able to do for a while, but then you’ll crack and you’ll most certainly yell. Like raging scream yell.

Rule 10: Engage yourself in the same situation that always leads to yelling (um serving dinner late so the kids are extra whiny and temper tantrummy while I need to be cooking), so every day at that time can be like Groundhog day but only louder (your yelling, not theirs) and with more guilt (for said yelling and for knowingly setting yourself up for frustration. Again.)

Rule 11: Don’t engage yourself in your children’s lives. Focus more on checking email and keeping the house clean. This way they will beg for your attention and you’ll be annoyed they are interrupting you and like Step 8, will be inclined to snap or worse.

Rule 12: Create a to-do list that is just long enough to stress you out. You know, a list that is totally unmanageable. This way, when you look at the list your heart starts racing and your head starts pounding. This will make you totally intolerant to any and all requests from the children and definitely want to yell.

Rule 13: Have a really big glass of wine (or equally large gin and tonic) after the kids go to sleep. It will taste great at the moment and will take all the stress of the day away but the next morning it will make you feel sluggish and irritable and primed for yelling. Added bonus: Couple this with going to bed late. This is always a winner and a fabulous way to start the day off on not one, but two really wrong feet.

Rule 14: Assume that your kids are the reason you yell and that it is never because of you and how you are feeling that day. In other words, disregards Steps 1-13 and assume that no, these rules don’t set you up to yell it’s really just the kids mess, their yelling, their not listening that is responsible.

Rule 15: Tell yourself that you can’t do it. That if you can’t even go one hour, how can you go two hours or a day?

*
Does Rule #15 really apply to you?  Then come join me on The 2nd Orange Rhino Challenge day, this WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29th. A day where I encourage everyone to go just 1 day without yelling. Just 1 day to see that yes, you can do it!

Do any of the other rules speak to you? Sadly, they ALL speak to me on too frequent a basis (and these are just the top 15!) But alas, I will be working on each one a lot harder the next 168 days. Follow along with me at www.Facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino to see how I handle those rules.

I didn’t yell, but I might as well have.

194 days without yelling, 171 days of loving more to go!

Dear #2,

I love you so. Oh how I love you.I love your snuggles, your kisses, your laughter. I love the stories you tell with such gusto, I love the excuses you give with such conviction. I love the zest you have for life, the carefree attitude you embrace. It’s great that you can be so relaxed, but sometimes, oh sometimes how I wish you cared a little more about consequences. Like last week for example. Remember dear child of mine when you threw sand on someone three times despite timeouts and chats with me? Remember how that led to your friend not wanting to play with you and mommy subsequently becoming embarrassed by your behavior, frustrated by your behavior and therefore primed for losing it? Remember how it ended?  Yeah, those consequences weren’t so pretty were they? I can’t say it enough. I’m sorry. I do love you, you know that right?
BIG hugs and kisses,
Mommy Orange Rhino

*

I did something not nice.

Like, really not nice.

Like, not nice in a way that has me thinking I need to change the rules to The Orange Rhino Challenge (at least for me).

After my 4 year old son threw sand on friends for the third time, I said:

“This is why you don’t have any friends.”

Ah, cringe. This happened a week ago and I still cringe ALL OVER.

I didn’t yell it. I didn’t even use a firm, loud voice. I used a matter of fact voice. And perhaps, that made it even worse. Because it came out not sounding frustrated or angry. It didn’t come out sounding like I just lost it for a moment, like it was an accident.

It came out sounding calculated. Intentional.

It was supposed to come out intentional and helpful, as in teaching a lesson, pointing out the facts.

But instead it came out HURTFUL.

One look at my son’s beautiful eyes that now looked lost and glazed over and I knew that I had hurt his feelings. I knew that what I had said had gone deep, that it had hit home in a way a 4 year old shouldn’t ever feel. As my words really sunk in, my son stopped dead in his tracks, his sad eyes locked on my face with a look of scared anticipation of what is she going to say next? What is she going to do next?, and then he burst into tears and ran away telling me I wasn’t nice. That he didn’t love me anymore. That I was a mean mommy.

And he was right.

I wasn’t an Orange Rhino mommy at that point, not by my standards. I know my rules are set up to be about how loud one’s voice is, about what tone it takes. That nice tones and quiet tones are the goal. But in this situation, I met both of the goals and yet the words I spoke were still MEAN and LOUD, perhaps even more so than if I had yelled at him to just STOP. When setting up the Orange Rhino Challenge rules I missed a big point:

It isn’t just the tone and the volume I use when I speak that matters, it is also THE WORDS that matter.

At the end of the day, my words, even if quiet and calm, hurt my son. I could have sung them, whispered them, said them in another language, or said them while standing upside down on my head and they still would have hurt my son’s feelings.  At the end of the day, even if my words followed “my rules” because I remained quiet, they still had the same impact as yelling: they took a hit at my son’s self confidence, they took a hit at his trust in me.

I could sit here and write that yes, what I said was warranted; that it was okay, that he deserved it. I could sit here and write that yes, he needed to learn a lesson, that he needed to learn the connection between his behavior and why people don’t want to play with him. But an even more important truth is that YES I could have made my point in a more gentle way. A more constructive way. A more loving way.

His behavior might be the source of my frustration, the source of my action, but at this moment, his behavior isn’t in question, mine is. Because I AM THE PARENT. I am the one responsible for helping and teaching my son in a loving manner!

Instead, at this moment, I criticized him. I pointed out his lack of friends to him, something I know he is struggling with and sad about, and threw it in his face.

I mean really, how old am I … 4?

Sure, I didn’t yell, but does that make it right?

NO it doesn’t. Because in this case, I loved my son LESS not more and this Challenge is about loving more. And in this case, I didn’t even come close.

So while I could be proud that I didn’t yell, I feel anything but proud.

I feel disappointed in myself.

I feel frustrated with myself.

I feel ashamed of myself.

And I feel sad for my son. Not just because I know he isn’t a malicious child, because I know he just wants to be included and is struggling to figure out how to make friends, but because I can’t take back the words I said. I can’t take back that moment.

So I am going to take back the day. 4 days actually.

That’s right, I am knocking 4 days off my “no yelling” counter as a reminder of the age I acted and the 4 years I have loved my son.  I am taking 4 days off to remind myself why I started the Orange Rhino Challenge in the first place: to become a more warm and composed mother who doesn’t scare or hurt her children’s feelings. Period.

I am taking days off to remind myself to work a little harder at this challenge, to remind myself that just because I have stopped yelling doesn’t mean I can start saying mean things in a quiet voice. Because really, that is just as bad.

P.S. I know some of you will say I am being too hard on myself by knocking days off since I didn’t technically break the rules. Perhaps I am. I just felt in my heart I needed a small “consequence” to teach me a lesson, to remind me that words can hurt even if not yelled. 

Give me a break!

Dear Becca,

Thanks for writing this great guest post – you made several, no many more than that great and inspirational points. I even followed your advice, item #4, and WOW what a difference. I think it helped me get through the night tonight. No, I know it did. It made all the difference in the world. Whenever I get stuck I am going to come back and read your post. And I have a feeling our fellow Orange Rhinos might as well.

Cheers,
The Orange Rhino

*

I am a stay-at-home mom with two kids: Logan (4 years old) and Brenna (2 years old). I recently started The Orange Rhino Challenge because, hey, even though I would love to change the fact that my son can be hot-tempered, competitive, and defiant… as Maya Angelou wrote:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Well, I can’t change how my son acts (sigh), only how I react.

Now,Logan is also sweet, funny, and very smart (if I do say so myself) and I love him to pieces…but his aggressive tendencies really threw this mama for a loop. I grew up with a sister, so dealing with a little boy is a new experience for me! Add that to the fact that he inherited my passion and his daddy’s competitive streak and someone’s hot temper (not sure who to blame for that one, lol) and you’ve got a kid who is both amazing and challenging at the same time.

Did I mention I HATE conflict?

I’m a people-pleaser and never really learned how to handle conflict well. I tend to try to make the other person happy in an argument, which really doesn’t work when your conflict is with your own child, and you have to stand your ground. So, I have tried hard to teach Logan that he has to respect his parents and he has to listen to what I say. Which of course many times he doesn’t. (Go figure!) But when he disagrees with me, it’s a loud, angry ordeal.

So I thought the only way I was ever going to get this kid to listen was to yell. Snapping and raising my voice worked for reluctant obedience but caused serious conflict between us.

Orange Rhino inspiration center!

I haven’t really known what to do until I read about this Challenge. I was SO excited about starting my 30 Day Challenge (my own personal goal)- I printed out all the voice levels and a count-down chart to put on the fridge. I even posted some encouraging quotes for when I was struggling. I got 6 successful days into the Challenge thinking I SO had this…and then it happened.

I messed up.

I got lost while driving and the kids were fighting (both major triggers for me) so I snapped for them to shut it. Started myself right back at zero feeling like a jerk, and tried again the next day. Messed up again, and again, and again. I felt like I was never going to even get back to Day 1! And here’s why: I felt seriously DEFEATED. And that feeling of guilt and frustration made me want to give up. (YUP. I’ve been there Becca. I’ve been there. You are NOT alone.) 

Any other perfectionists out there?? I hate messing up, and I’ll tell you what, nothing will force you to give up being a perfectionist like parenting. You can’t be a perfect parent, and that’s OKAY! Read that last sentence again, and believe it! I have to remind myself daily.

And that’s what I want to share today. The fact that you are a wonderful mom!! I’m sure you’re thinking, “How do you know? You don’t know me.” But the fact that you are investigating this challenge says that you are someone who deeply cares about your kids. You want what is best for them and you are humble enough to admit that you are struggling in some areas and need help. That is a true sign of strength! So here are some things to consider next time you are beating yourself up over snapping at your kiddos.

1. You Made a Mistake, but You are a Good Mom! Sure, there is room to improve. But you made a mistake in a single instance, and that mistake does not define your self-worth as a mom! You aren’t giving up, and that takes courage.

2. Love Goes a Long Way. When I start feeling overwhelming guilt, it can be crippling. I have to remind myself that there is a lot of love in our house, and that consistent love and forgiveness of each other will get us past the tough moments.

3. You CAN do this. When I started failing repeatedly, I thought “I just don’t have what it takes.” That’s not true! We do have what it takes and we have to believe in ourselves. We have been blessed with these kids, and we are their moms…not the “perfect” moms at the park, not the magazine moms- they can’t do it! YOU know your children, and you alone have been given the awesome responsibility to be their mom! You can do it!

And lastly…

4. Give Yourself a Break. Give yourself some serious grace. We all make mistakes, and we just have to keep trying. But also, give yourself a LITERAL break. I forget to take time for myself and then all that giving ends up not helping anyone because I get completely burned out! I start twitching when I hear “Mommy!” for the fiftieth time. I feel my blood boil when the kids are arguing constantly. And it just doesn’t end well for anyone.

Hand daddy (or grandma, or neighbor, or best friend) the kids and back away slowly! Even just a couple of hours away can do such a world of good, for you AND the kids. If you are like me and feel guilty when you do fun things for yourself, remember that you can’t take care of them if you don’t take care of you!

So what about you? Do you ever feel like giving up? How do you make time to take care of yourself? Share in the comments because I’m sure we could all use some new ideas!

If you want to write to be the next guest blogger (and I would love you to be!), please email me at theorangerhinochallenge@gmail.com

I just need a friend.

195 days without yelling, 170 days of loving more to go!

The following happened to me last week. It was a beautifully heartbreaking moment that I will never forget because of the truth it spoke. 

Every morning that the weather cooperates, I strap one child on my back, buckle two in the stroller, and then hold the hand of the 4th and walk to town for my morning caffeine. We go to the same place, the place where everyone knows our names. Knows our order. Knows that I need help holding the door open so that I can maneuver myself and the stroller in. Knows that by the time I arrive my kids are ready for a morning snack and are cranky and sometimes crying after 25 minutes of being captive to my morning walk, the walk I need to feel good about myself, the walk I need to feel refreshed, alive. The walk I need to make it through the day. The walk I need in order to feel pulled together even if I am feeling anything but.

Well today, today the boys had to wait for their snack. The people who knew us didn’t open the door. And I didn’t get my normal order.

Because there was a stranger in need. A stranger feeling anything but refreshed and pulled together. And we all helped her.

As I approached the bagel store, my four boys in tow, I saw a most beautifully striking woman standing in front. She wore the most gorgeous black suit – gorgeous in style, gorgeous in how it fit her. Her hair was pulled back flawlessly and as I later learned her make up too had once been perfect. But yet this beautiful soul felt anything but beautiful at that moment.

She stood in front of the door, her petite well manicured hands covering her face, clearly trying not to hide tears, clearly trying to stop the tears, stop the pain from being real.

My caffeine would wait. My kids could wait. And somehow, they knew they needed to wait. And not just wait, but patiently and quietly wait. This beautiful yet sad woman tugged at my heart – because how often do we all feel that?

So pulled together yet so unraveled at the same time?

I had to help her because in a way, she was me. I have been there. I have been the one wanting to cry, to bawl, but having to keep it together instead. I have been the one crying in public, wanting help, and having no one reach out. I have felt sad and alone and I would not let this woman feel that this morning. Because I have been there.  And it hurts, really, really hurts.

“Hi. Are you okay?” I asked.

“No.” Tears started falling down her face, her perfect mascara now running.

“What can I do? Can I get you a seat? A tissue?”

The boys sat quietly. Listening. Watching.

“No. I just need a friend.”

I just need a friend.

I just need a friend.

Who doesn’t?

Oh these words how they broke my heart. I wanted to hug her and tell her that she is not alone, that it will be alright, that she can call me whenever. I wanted to sit down and let her talk for as long as she needed. I wanted to be there for her because gosh, how often as a mom, as a person, do I feel that?

That I just need a friend.

I don’t need judgement, or advice, or anything else, I just need a friend. A friend to let me cry, a friend to listen, a friend who when my tears are done, will tell me it will be okay and I know that it will be because just having talked will have made me feel better.

I wanted to be that friend for her at that moment but knew my clock with my kids was ticking. I knew the minute she opened up that my boys would get antsy and she would be cut off. And I did NOT want that for this person.

So I did my best.

“Oh my. I am so sorry you are having a rough morning. Did you have coffee? Let me buy you a coffee?”

“Oh, I tried to get coffee but I couldn’t even go in.”

“WE will get it for you. What do you want?”

“A latte.”

My boys and I went into the store and ordered our new friend a latte and a croissant because #1 thought it would make her smile. And he wanted her to smile. Because she was very sad he said.

We came out to find our new friend hugging an old friend. I was so relieved that she had found what she needed at that moment. She graciously accepted her coffee and croissant and we graciously denied her attempts to pay us back. We wished her well and walked on our way, my boys asking if she would be alright? Why was she sad? Did she need a hug? Did she need her mommy?

A few steps later we were over the train platform and looking down.

There stood our new friend, wiping away her tears. The boys called to her.

She looked up.

“Blow her a kiss boys, she needs to feel loved.” I said.

And they did. Three kisses were sent her way. And she caught them. And blew a kiss and a smile back.

The next morning the weather cooperated and we walked to town again, as usual. The entire walk the boys asked about “the lady” wondering if we would see her, if she would still be sad.

We did see her. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, almost as if it was meant to be, as we were running late and yet we literally met her at the door as she was walking in. She smiled a shy smile, almost an embarrassed smile. The boys said hi and asked if she was feeling better.  She said yes and then quietly ordered her latte.

Then she said the following to the man behind the counter:

“I’m so sorry for yesterday. There is just a lot of stress in my life. I was just having a rough morning.”

Today I didn’t want to tell her it would be okay. I wanted to tell her,

DO NOT apologize for crying. Do not apologize for not being all buttoned up for a few moments. It is OKAY to let go and let the stress out. It’s OKAY.

Hmmm…perhaps I should heed my own advice?

Thank you Grouchy Man!

191 days of not yelling, 174 days of loving more to go

Dear Grouchy Old Man,

The other night I wrote about how frustrating it was to have you yell at my son and me (read here). I woke up the next morning, bitterness gone, to realize you gave me a gift. The gift of realizing just how much I have changed. 15 months ago when the same thing happened, I cried, I yelled, I made a spectacle of myself (see It Takes Courage not to Yell, Part 2). I didn’t communicate anything worthwhile to the offender and furthermore I didn’t take a bad opportunity and make it a learning opportunity for my kids.

But this go around, I did all of the above. I told the man that kids yell sometimes, that he was doing his best, that I was as well. I told my sons that sometimes people say not nice things and it is important to be the bigger person and respond with as much kindness as possible. I didn’t cry in front of the man but remained as strong as I could.

I told people “I didn’t care, it didn’t matter. I was used to being criticized for my son’s behavior.”

The truth? It did matter. I did care. And it wasn’t that I was used to it was that I have GROWN UP a bit. I have become STRONGER. I have learned how to CONTROL my impulses.

I truly believe this is a direct result of The Orange Rhino Challenge. The Challenge has forced me to look at myself, my behaviors, my responses. It has forced me to accept that I can’t change others but that I can change myself.

And for all of this I am grateful.

Which I guess makes me grateful for our little run in old man.

Who would have thunk it?

Best of Luck to you as you learn Tolerance and Empathy,
The Orange Rhino

Chided for my son’s screaming…AGAIN.

(if you are newish to this page, welcome, and have a read here to get a background on #3)

Dear Grouchy Old Man,

Thanks so very much for coming out of your office and chiding me for my son’s behavior. I really needed it at. That. Precise. Moment. Because you know, with four kids in tow, one who is pitching one hell of a fit, I didn’t have enough on my mind. Nope, I wasn’t already sweating bullets as I tried to calm my son, as I tried to rationalize with him, as I tried to tell him it would be okay all while keeping three other kids quiet. Nope, I didn’t have anything on my mind at the moment when you said “What in the hell is going on here?” Because at the moment you know, I was just enjoying the moment, eating bon bons and loving the screaming fit that I know wouldn’t end for minutes. Loving the stress of knowing that someone, like you, would probably pop your head out into the hall and judge me. Loving the embarrassment that my son screams, and screams, and screams AND I CAN’T STOP IT.  Nope, I didn’t have anything on my mind and I really needed someone like you to put me in my place and make me think “what in the hell IS going on here.”

So thank you. Now do what I said. Go back in your office and close the door. That’s what doors are for. So you don’t hear noise.

Yours truly,
The Orange Rhino

*

Nope, not bitter at all. Not sad either. Or ashamed. Or frustrated. Or lost. Nope none of it.  I just LOVE having a child that screams.

Well, I mean, I do. I love #3, screams and all. I can’t imagine my world without him. I wouldn’t trade his sweet smile and cuddles for a child who doesn’t scream. I wouldn’t trade his jokes and facial expressions for a child that doesn’t scream. I wouldn’t trade his curly hair and sweet evolving voice for a child that doesn’t scream.  I would however trade the nasty comments and looks from people for some smiles of support, some facial expressions of empathy, some sweet gestures like “hey, it’s okay. We’ve all been there.” But no, I don’t get any of that. I just get judged and chided. And I am tired of it. Really, really, tired of it. Enough already.

Do people think that I am not trying? Because I am.

Do people think that I really want my son to keep screaming on and on and on so that people can continue to glare and talk about both of us? Because I don’t.

Do people really think that if they insult me it will inspire me to try even harder? That it will make my son stop screaming? Because it won’t.

Do people think that I need advice as to how to handle the situation…as if I haven’t read every article out there on the matter? Because I have.

My son, my wonderful, beautiful, loving, charming son screams.

He is a screamer.

He screams when he can’t communicate. He screams when he can’t get his way. He screams when he doesn’t know what else to do. Because that is what he did for an entire year plus when he couldn’t talk at all. My sweet son learned to scream and it is now a nasty, nasty habit that we, me, my husband, his speech therapist and his occupational therapist are trying to break.

And we aren’t succeeding. Yet. So I have a screamer on my hands.

And NO he is not a screamer because I encouraged it. He is not a screamer because I allowed it. He is not a screamer because I wanted it. He is a screamer because that is what he could do in the absence of words. He is a screamer because his mouth hurt for almost a year straight and he couldn’t tell me.

Trust me old man, I am just as frustrated and annoyed as you were yesterday.

Trust me old man, I SO desperately want the screaming to stop. For so many obvious reasons.

And trust me old man, every time my son screams I cry inside.

I cry because I can’t stop it. I cry because I know a**holes like you judge me, but more so, judge him. That a*sholes like you assume something is wrong with him, wrong with me. I cry because I truly believe my son doesn’t want to be screaming. He doesn’t want to be feeling frustrated, sad, angry, whatever it is he is feeling that makes him scream the way he does.

And oh that scream. His lips pout, his eyes turn down, and he looks like he is about to burst into tears and cry. But he doesn’t. He screams instead.  Oh how I wish he would just cry. Then we could cry together.

Would that be better for you old man? To see my son cry because something is so wrong? Would that be more convenient to you and your conference call? No, not really? Well maybe it would make you stop judging.

Maybe if my son cried instead of screaming you would see that he is struggling. That he is really struggling.

Then maybe your heart would have talked before your mouth.

Then maybe I would have tried harder (or at least cried less later).

Do I ask too much of my kids?

187 days of not yelling, 178 days of loving more to go! 

Dear Sarcasm,

While I love you, and oh do I love you, the truth is you often hide something really deep that I need to look at. My post the other night about how to get my kids to listen to me was a perfect example. In the middle of writing that sarcastic rant about the challenges of getting my kids to listen to me (read here), I had a deep thought, a few questions really. And these questions kept pestering me to think about them these last few days so tonight, I had to give it a go. I had to go deep and not hide under you. See you soon though I am sure…

Cheers,
The Orange Rhino

*

In all my questioning of how to get my boys to listen to me better, in all my reading of how to get my boys listening to me better, never once did I read, or stop and think…

Do I ask my boys to listen too much? Or in other words,

Do I ask my boys to do too much?
Do I ask so much that they are tired of having to listen to me request them to do things?
Do I ask so much of my boys that when I speak all they hear is “blah blah blah, blah blah?”

Because I have to admit. I ask my boys to do a lot. Not just expectations, but actions, behaviors. In fact, I don’t think I stop asking them to do things all day. Don’t play guns. Don’t say mean words. Don’t hit. Don’t push. Don’t spit. Stop when someone says stop. Clear you plate at meal time. Stay at the table at meal time. Try to make your bed. Try to clean your room. Please put your shoes away. Please don’t leave toys on the stairs. Please don’t slam doors. Please use your inside voice. Please come here for a second. Please put your toys down it’s time to leave.  Can you help me with this? Can you help me with that?

Oh. My. God.

I am tired just writing out all the things I ask them to do. I get tired just thinking of all the times I ask them to stop what they are doing in order to listen to me so that they can do what I WANT. WHEN I WANT IT. HOW I WANT IT.

Shoot, I would get tired of having to listen to me talk all day. Wait, I DO get tired of listening to myself talk. I DO get tired of giving “directions” all day long. I know my job as a parent is to teach my sons, to guide them how to become good sons, good brothers, good friends, good neighbors, good people all around and with that does unfortunately come a lot of requests on my part and a lot of listening on their part.

A LOT.

And I know that many of the things I ask do need to be heard, do need to be listened to, do need to get done.

But still…

Maybe, just maybe, my sons have a hard time “listening” because I truly ask too much, because I bombard them all day long with requests, instructions and expectations about how to act? Maybe my sons have a hard time “listening” because they are simply OVERLOADED with information from me and opt to tune me out because they both need and want a break?

I mean gosh, there is a list of 10 actions, JUST 10, that I could do (supposedly) in order to have children that listen better (read here). Just 10 things and I feel too bothered to be bothered to do all 10, to remember all 10. And I am an adult!

For my boys, the list of things I ask them to do is a heck of a lot more than 10. It’s more like a 50. And I bet if I actually tracked it, it would be more like 100.

I know how 10 items makes me feel.
I can only imagine how 100+ items makes my kids feel. And they are kids. KIDS!

So truly, I have to stop and think, am I ASKING MY KIDS TO DO TOO MUCH? Too much so that when I do speak, they tune me out because they are tired of listening and having to respond…again for the umpteenth time that day?

As I think about it I think the answer is NO. Wait, YES.

NO a lot of what I ask is necessary and part of becoming a responsible, nice, respectful, loving, good person, being asked to do things, lots of things, it’s part of the territory of being a kid. But at the same time….

YES they are just kids and listening is hard work for them…um, it’s hard work for me as a quasi-adult! I could afford to not get so miffed when they don’t listen. I could afford to take it less personally, to be more empathetic and to remember how much I ask of them AND how much they already do! I could afford to lighten up a bit, to stay focused on the big items I want them to listen to and respond to but perhaps stop nagging about the small items.

I could afford to, no I WILL, try to stop and ask myself more often, is my request necessary? Can I chill out? Can I let my kids be kids? And maybe, just maybe, if I chill out and ask less of my kids, they will listen better when I do ask. It’s a fine line, asking too much of my kids and asking too little, but it’s a line I need to explore because I have a hunch that I am too much on the too much side.

“HELLO?! Why aren’t you doing what I asked you to do?!”

184 days of not yelling, 181 days of loving more to go!

Dear sweet children of mine,

Why of why do you insist on not listening me to me when I ask you to do something? Why is that your pre-school teacher can speak and you immediately respond, dutifully? And if not the first time, the second time? Whereas for me, if not the first time, or the second, it takes five or size times for you to respond? Does your teacher have magic powers I don’t know about it? Do I speak in a foreign language that you don’t understand? Oh I wish I knew the answer. Because this is one of the biggest sticklers in our relationship. My asking, you’re not doing. Please get your shoes on for school. Please don’t pick up the baby. Please come to the dinner table. Please clean up the legos on the floor. Please that, please this. Seriously some days all I want to scream is: “HELLO!!! Why aren’t you doing what I asked you to do??? DO IT NOW…please!”

xoxo,
Mommy Orange Rhino

*

“#1 STOP banging the blocks.” I said kind-of politely from across the room.

Of course, he didn’t stop.

“#1 STOP banging the blocks NOW.” I said a little less politely from across the room.

Of course, he still didn’t stop.

“#1 STOP doing banging the blocks NOW OR ELSE.” I said even less politely from across the room, but now with the kitchen sink running.

Still, no bloody response.

Finally, I turned the sink off. I walked across the room to where #1 sat banging the family room coffee table with heavy wood blocks. I got down to his level, looked him in the eye, and said “#1, please stop banging the blocks on the table. Did you hear what I said? Repeat it back.”

“Please stop banging the blocks.”

“Do you understand? Will you listen?”

“Yes mommy. Okay mommy.”

The banging stopped. FINALLY!

Holy sh*t. It was that easy?! It took me four tries to get the obnoxious banging to stop and if I had just gone over in the first place, made eye contact, and made sure he heard me he would have stopped earlier? What the…!

It is SO simple and SO hard to get kids to listen. So simple if you follow all the basic rules different experts suggest:

1. Walk over to child…don’t try to get them to listen from across the room! (Really, I have to move? I can’t multi-task. Dammit.)

2. Make eye contact by getting to child’s level (Are you kidding me? If I get down, I won’t get up. If I wanted to squat I would go to the gym.)

3. Get attention
by using child’s name (Seriously? I say his name all day. He doesn’t care. Oh right, that is because I say it too much.)

4. Keep it simple
(You mean like the days in elementary school when they taught us, K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple Stupid?!)

5. Keep it short (What, my child doesn’t want to listen to a long speech? I haven’t talked to anyone all day, this is my chance!)

6. Have child repeat
back to confirm comprehension (And what if they get it wrong? Do I have to repeat the above process all over again as another child engages in another activity needing my attention?)

All of the above is great. Really. Except for one thing. All of the above takes a boat load of energy, time, patience and persistence. And on a good day, I am using up all my energy, time, patience and persistence to not yell at them to listen…god forbid I actually use those personal resources to get my kids to listen in the first place so that I don’t want to yell!

I mean really. I know all of the above works, nine out of ten times. No that is being nice. 8 out of 10 times. But yet, I don’t do it. Because it is exhausting having to go over to my children (seriously all the walking back and forth, up and down stairs, in and out of the backyard gets tiresome!) and then having to remember everything I need to do to get them to listen and then having to find the self control to do all the aforementioned things instead of screaming “DO WHAT I SAY NOW…BECAUSE I SAID SO!”  It all adds up to make a day longer and harder.

Sigh.

(Photo courtesy of Squidoo.com) 

After I read everyone’s comments the other day about what is the #1 thing that makes you want to yell, and a majority said not listening, I did some online research about how to get kids to listen. I read the above 6 points just about everywhere. Then I read some new ideas which I have since tried and have really worked in addition to the above 6 ideas…

7. Begin requests with “I want” as children naturally want to please. This is working phenomenally. PHENOMENALLY. I hate to admit it because whenever I say “I want” I feel selfish, but they get it.

8. Give Choices I have tried this tactic in the past and it too works well, mostly because my choices are “Do what I want or go to your room.” Hmmm, GREAT OPTIONS MOM. So I changed it up a bit and started giving real options. Much better response.

9. Don’t Bother unless Child is calm. Yeah, that’s a no brainer. If #1 is upset and screaming, guess what, he LITERALLY won’t be able to hear me. So wait.

But I would like to add my own, something I didn’t read anywhere. This is also a no brainer. A true “DUH, mommy, are you an idiot?”idea. I realized it this week during an exchange I had with #2.

“#2, please stop doing THAT.”

“What?”

“Please stop doing THAT.”

“I heard you. What’s THAT?”

“What you’re doing.”

This exchange went on and on. Kind of like the “Who is on 1st” baseball joke.

I finally got it.

#2 didn’t understand what “that” was. Did I want him to stop singing? Stop tapping his toes? Stop throwing all the books out of the bookcase?

I hadn’t been clear. AT ALL.

Rule #10 for how to get my kids to listen: Be PRECISE! Don’t use the words “this, that” or even just saying “Stop.” Add the descriptors. Make it so painfully clear that there is no room for misinterpretation.

Does that mean next time I say “#2, please stop throwing all the books out of the bookcase (because if you don’t mommy is going to friggin’ lose it?!)”

Ah, parenthood. Gotta love it.