So supposedly May 1st of every year is “National Save the Rhino Day.” I did a little Googling to see if this was indeed true, and wouldn’t you know, it is! (Which is great because it is an important cause!) The exact origin of the day is under question (lots of different opinions) but they all seem to agree on one core goal: to use the day to spread awareness about how Rhinos are greatly endangered. Which got me thinking…
What would a “National Save The ORANGE Rhino Day” be about? What would the goal be? Let’s see. First off, I have deemed Orange Rhinos to be: determined and energetic people who choose not to charge with words, but instead choose to remain calm, loving, and warm when provoked or triggered. (Gray rhinos are naturally calm animals that charge when provoked. Add the color orange which symbolizes warmth and positive energy and voila, The Orange Rhino.)
So saving Orange Rhinos would be about spreading awareness that one can become an Orange Rhino; it would be about protecting the hope so that people don’t stop (or don’t even start) to try and change their yelling behavior, but instead keep on trying to yell less and love more. It would be about keeping The Orange Rhino Community not just alive, but also growing by spreading a few key messages to help people be Orange Rhinos. The messages might read (and would obviously be surrounded by some wicked cool graphics by someone besides myself)…
Save the yells for… your closet, or any other inanimate object; they don’t have feelings, kids do!
My first few weeks of learning to not yell were tough and not just because yelling was my go to, but also because I had no real game plan on how to physically make myself not yell! One day I felt a yell coming and without thinking I turned and yelled into my closet. It was liberating! I let the yell out – just not at my kids! After a few days of yelling into my closet – and many other inanimate objects like the kitchen cupboards, the freezer, the toilet, the car – I realized that (a) I felt ridiculous and didn’t want to keep that up and (b) that if I could control myself enough to turn and yell, I could then control myself enough to turn away, yell and let out just an “AHHH” instead of mean words. And if I could do that, I could turn and not let out anything at all! And if I could do that, well, then I would eventually not have to turn away at all, but I could control myself while still keeping eye contact with my kiddos. This was a big “aha!” and a very useful tool to help me officially start kicking yelling to the curb.
Save the yells for… when you really need them…in emergencies!
When I used to yell often, instead of actually getting my kids attention, it became harder to get my kids attention! They were just so used to the raised voice in certain situations that it was like in Charlie Brown cartoons – all my kids heard was, “wah, wah, wah!” So when I was at my most frequent yelling phase, when emergencies really hit – needing my boys to stop and not run into the street, needing the phone to call daddy urgently, needing my boys to not talk so that I could hear Grandma on the phone – well, when those moments hit and I really wanted my kids attention and so I yelled, they ignored me. Now, however, oh one the biggest and bestest benefits of not yelling is that when it is a true legitimate emergency – #2 cracking head open and needing an ambulance, #4 having a seizure and needing emergency medicines and an ambulance, a stranger at the door who started walking around the house – if I raise my voice, my kids get it. I get through. They don’t hear “wah, wah, wah,” they hear, “Mommy needs help now. I need to listen.” Just knowing that the less I yell unnecessarily means the more powerful my voice is when I really, really, really need it to helps me save those yucky yells from coming out.
Save the yells for… when you really want them…in good times!
It feels awesome to let out a big “YAHOOO!” when I get good news, when a son achieves a milestone, when we achieve something together like making the absolutely perfect paper airplane. And it feels even more awesome when I have my voice and the energy to do so because I haven’t been yelling so much that I feel so physically and emotionally beat down that I can’t let out a good ‘ole fashioned scream for joy. When I used to yell, ugh, it just made me feel so crappy at times that it was hard to see the joy right in front of me at the moment. I much prefer to keep all my loud, obnoxious yells for fun times (like when the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees, eh hem, or when my son poops in the potty instead of on the carpet…again.)
Save the yells for… when you schedule them!
All of the above said, but, let’s face it, sometimes, a primal scream is just what is needed to release the stress, the hurt, the anger, the sadness, the whatever yuck one feels. I learned that if I hold it together too long and don’t release the yuck, I will just explode vis-à-vis yelling…at my kids or my husband. So now sometimes I schedule that explosion (a tip from a fellow Orange Rhino, and I love it!) I say to my kids, “hey, lets run around the park screaming and having fun!” Needless to say they LOVE it and I do to. It’s great to not yell, and it’s great to bond and have fun with my boys…and to do something I used to love doing as a kid. It is so freeing! Added bonus – it gets my boys’ yells out of their systems before they explode and trigger me to want to yell even more!
Save the yells for a friend…someone who will really listen and respond positively.
Okay, kind of joking here, mostly not. I learned that when I yelled at my kids, they didn’t really respond in a supportive manner. They didn’t really respond how I wanted. They didn’t really get that I was yelling because I was (fill in the blank)…frustrated, overwhelmed, sad, stressed, pms’ing. Friends, friends, however do. If I call a friend and just start venting, she gets it. And she listens. And she responds. And it is a positive exchange that moves me forward, not backwards. Yelling at my boys always moved be WAY backwards and often made the situation worse.
Save the yells for your sanity… so you feel calmer and the calmness spreads.
I readily admit that before The Orange Rhino Challenge I wouldn’t have described myself as calm, per say. But now, now I would. Okay, at least more than I would before. When I am calm, when calm oozes out of my actions and my voice, it spreads. Calmness is contagious. My kids respond infinitely better when I am calm; they listen better, they respond better, they act kinder, they are well, just calmer! Which makes me calmer, which makes their brothers calmer, which makes me calmer. Calmness spreads and keeps yells away. When I am agitated, however, well, that spreads too – but it invites yells to come and hang out for hours, if not days! I remind myself of this nugget, of the power of calm, when I want to yell and wouldn’t you know, it helps me find calm!
Save the yells for yourself…put the anger where it belongs!
This is another kidding, mostly not poster idea. I am not talking about literally looking in the mirror and screaming at yourself. Nah. That is just cruel and would make matters worse! But I am talking about pointing the finger at yourself – and not your kids – when you know the source of your anger is something in your life and not because of the kids’ behavior. When I know “it’s not you, it’s me” is driving my desire to yell, I stop and say to myself, “Hey lady, you don’t want to yell at the kids because they won’t clean up, you want to yell because you have too much to do and are frustrated that you overfilled your plate again!” Re-directing the anger to the right spot works wonders in saving yells from happening!
And when you can’t save the yells – borrow forgiveness, borrow patience, and borrow love for yourself and save yourself from unnecessary guilt and self-ridicule. Parenting is not about perfection; it’s about progress. It’s about yelling less; it’s about saving the yells one moment, one yell at a time. And the only way to do that, the only way to keep The Orange Rhino community alive and growing, is if we all forgive ourselves, find patience with ourselves, and love ourselves when we a yell slips out. Not all yells will be saved – celebrate when they are and celebrate when you don’t quit on a hard day, but try again.
So now this post has me thinking…maybe a “National Save The Orange Rhino Day” should happen?! (And please, please, please know that this post is by no means knocking the importance of the real day, because that too is very important!)
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I talk more in-depth about these “messages” I rely on to save myself from yelling my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can too!” which is due out this September! You can pre-order it now though by clicking here!