3 Ways to Yell Less at your Kids

350 days of not yelling, 15 days of loving more to go!

Dear Fred and Ted,

I know P.D. Eastman wrote about you hoping you would teach children about opposites. But did you know that you taught me, a thirty something adult, a really great lesson too? Well you did. Thank you.

Now back to bed!
Yelled the Rhino who was orange, not red!

*

Tonight while I was reading “BIG dog…little dog” by P.D. Eastman to my three year old I couldn’t help but let out a huge chuckle at the end of the story. I mean here I was reading a book for a child and I was the one learning. In case you aren’t familiar with the book, here is the key part of the story. It takes place after Fred, a big dog, and Ted, a little dog spend sleepless nights in a hotel.

“The next morning, Fred said, ‘My bed is too little!’
‘My bed is too big!’ said Ted.
‘I know what to do!’ said the bird.
‘Ted should sleep upstairs and Fred should sleep downstairs!’
‘Back to bed!’ yelled Ted.
“Back to bed!’ yelled Fred.
Ted jumped into the little bed upstairs.
And Fred jumped into the big bed downstairs.
Ted slept all day long in the cozy little bed.
And Fred slept all day long in the cozy big bed.
‘Well, that was easy to do. Big dogs need big beds. Little dogs need little beds. Why make big problems out of little problems?’”

OH MY GOSH. YES! It is that simple. That is one smart bird!

“’Why make big problems out of little problems?’”

I mean really, why? Problems are hard enough as is, so why make them bigger? Or put another way, why take a little yelling trigger and escalate it by actually yelling ridiculously? All yelling does is make my boys cry, which then makes a once little trigger feel ginormous because now I have a sad, upset child on hand as well. Yep, yelling makes little “problems”, bigger problems!

Take laundry for example. I can’t stand sorting laundry. Socks in particular. I mean really. Why do The Gap and every other sock manufacturer have to print the size of the sock in the same color as the sock? How am I supposed to read the size? It’s not like anyone is going to see the size if it is an obnoxiously easy to read color. It’s on the bottom of the foot for goodness sake! Every time I am stuck sorting socks and digging through baskets of mixed laundry looking for a matching sock, I want to scream at my boys. Is the sock dilemma their issue? No. But it drives me nuts and makes me batty so if they approach me with a simple question, I am apt to want to scream at them. I am apt to want to take a small problem, a lonely sock, and make it a bigger problem, a crying child.

Solution: Do one child’s laundry a night. It’s that simple; no more sorting! I stopped washing mixed loads of laundry at the beginning of January. Now each child has a night and I am no longer digging for socks. Such a simple solution. Such a BIG relief. I feel like a new woman, seriously. No more snapping at my kids over unmatched socks is the greatest feeling! There was no need to make a big problem out of a little problem. I just had to think for a moment of a solution.

And then there is the case of the cluttered kitchen counter. I know my counter isn’t magnetized but I swear it is. It collects and holds tight to anything and everything in my house. School papers. Legos. Colored pencils. Snack cups. Magazines. Untouched Weight Watchers books. Small stuff from Hallmark from my mother-in-law that I don’t know where else to put. Shoot, anything that I don’t know where to put or don’t feel like putting away gets glued to the counter. And I CAN’T STAND IT. Just looking at the counter during the day makes me want to scream. It makes me so cranky and on edge that if my kids breathe on me or even leave a crumb I want to scream at them, unnecessarily of course. Yes, I want to take a truly small problem, a cluttered counter, and make it a bigger problem, a crying child.

Solution: Every night I take 5 minutes to clean the kitchen counter. 5 minutes, sometimes less. It is the most beautiful thing ever. Now when I start the day I can breathe easy. My skin doesn’t crawl throughout the day, my to-do list no longer has “clean counter” on it, and I don’t snap at my kids for putting stuff on the counter because I know it will find the right home. The solution was simple, I just needed to look for it.

And well of course then there is the morning rush to school everyday. There’s the get your backpacks, get your shoes on, go to the bathroom, get your jacket, get in the car, buckle up. And that is after all the breakfast fanfare. Without fail every single morning we are running to get #1 to Kindergarten on time because with four kids and eight slow feet and eight otherwise busy hands, getting necessary tasks done takes forever. In fact, it takes so long that I want to scream the marching orders at my children, not say them nicely. Yes I want to take a truly small problem say, get your backpack, and make it into a bigger problem, a crying child.

Solution: Alleviate just one morning task by doing it the night before. Every night I get the school bags from the closet and line them up in the kitchen. One less thing to do in the morning; one less moment I want to yell. The solution was simple. I just needed to acknowledge the problem.

Oh there are so many triggers to yell in my life. The good news? So many of them are easily solved if I just take a moment to think. The other good news? Just thinking for a bit about these small problems has kept them from creating big problems like children with hurt feelings and a mama filled with remorse and guilt.

Seriously, that little bird was right big time. “Why make big problems out of little problems?”

Here are two other related posts about simple solutions…
A Novel Idea 
The Silliest Fight 

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5 thoughts on “3 Ways to Yell Less at your Kids

  1. This is unbelievably helpful!! I love the laundry idea. The laundry drives me crazy!!! I have a draw in the bathroom that collect the odd socks. Starting tomorrow I am gonna try this solution!!!

  2. I love that your laundry idea works for you and it changed things but honestly the thought of doing laundry at night makes me cringe! Is it selfish of me to want time to myself when the kids go to bed? I get all giddy when they go to sleep as I grab the remote to the tv and some popcorn. Seriously. I find that when I never get a break is one of my triggers. Then again, I only have 2 kids. I throw the laundry in the morning and then fold at naptime – when my oldest is at school. My I get cranky if he wakes up right when I’m done folding leaving me with no break during the day – how selfish am I? The thing is – my youngest is a horrible sleeper – so even at night – he wakes up – I feel I never get time to myself – a trigger of mine.
    My other trigger is after school craziness – after we get home, I run around doing emptying his backpack, lunchbox, doing homework, changing a diaper and prepping dinner that when there is a spill or an accident that didn’t need to happen, I snap. I don’t know what the solution is for that!

    • My triggers are very similar to yours. I used to hate when my daughter woke from her nap right when I was getting a break or when I’m preoccupied with a house chore such as answering an annoying question from my 4 year old while I try to remember if I put I tbsp of salt in my dinner recipe or if I put 2. Then the cup falls and apple juice is everywhere! It completely sucks and I snap very quickly -at least I used to. Took a few months of practice but I have taken upon myself that in those situations to remember that my 4 year old did not make me bad at multitasking. My 4 year old did not want to get me upset. Juice spills. Hell, I probably spill and trip over things as much as the next kid. But my kid is a kid and I am the adult.
      I BREATHE, I CLOSE my Eyes, and I talk to myself “it’s just juice, it’s just salt (I put in tiny bit more just in case) and I say it’s NOT a big deal. It’s No Ones fault. And I BREATHE some more. Takes practice but like every skill it is attainable. Good luck!!

  3. So helpful its funny how reading something like this makes so much sense but you just don’t think of it until someone else puts it out there. Thank you. :)

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