Is Not Yelling Really Worth It?

107 days without yelling, 258 to go!

Dear Kari,

You asked me a while back, is it worth it? Is it really worth all the extra hard work to not yell? Heck yeah it is. 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. Tonight I had one of those moments. And just thinking about it, well, it brings tears to my eyes.

Not yelling is hard. WICKED wicked hard. But yes, it is so worth it.

The Orange Rhino


As I have written before, as much as I love my kids, by the time bedtime rolls around, I am done. I am ready to tuck everyone in, give each boy one last kiss and snuggle, and then shut all the doors and go downstairs to relax. After 7:15pm, if I hear footsteps sneaking out this mama gets pissed. Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) I can’t get pissed anymore all because of The Orange Rhino Challenge. I can’t yell and carry on like I am accustomed to doing in such situations. Tonight I was challenged. And tonight I kept my promise. And it made me cry.

I had just settled down on the couch with a nice glass of wine. I was not 10 seconds into a deep thought of “oh, this is nice. It is so quiet” when I heard footsteps slowly making their way down the hall towards the stairs. I knew immediately who they belonged to. #1. Dear, sweet, #1 who loves to sneak out and try to convince us that he needs one more cracker, a sip of ice cold water or better yet, 5 minutes of playing Angry Birds on my husband’s Ipad in order to fall asleep. AS IF.

I ever so gently placed my wine glass down. I was rather deliberate in the gentleness because what I really wanted to do was the throw the glass in the fireplace. I was that annoyed. Let’s just say it has been a looooong week. This Mama is beyond done. Between baby showers, birthday parties, school parties, doctors appointments and unanticipated speech evaluations for two more boys, I just needed some time to decompress tonight. I had no desire to play the cracker/water/ipad/I need to pee/one more book game. My patience tank was empty. My empathy tank was empty. The only thing full was my wine glass and clearly that wasn’t going to be empty soon. I found whatever self control I could muster and headed towards the stairs.

#1 knew I was coming; pretty sure my stomping feet up the stairs gave it away. The soft footsteps I heard moments before turned into a mad dash for his room. All his attempts to not be busted went out the window when he accidentally SLAMMED his door shut. I was pissed before, but now I was REALLY pissed because I was certain the loud bang would wake his brothers. I grabbed the door knob and somewhat aggressively opened the door to his room. I wanted to scream “Get back in BED! NOW!”

But before I could even open my mouth I took one look at his face. He had the look that said, “Mommy don’t yell at me. Something is wrong and that’s why I can’t fall asleep.”

I walked over to his bed, taking deep, agitated breaths that were so loud they could wake his brothers. I was still fuming. But my son’s voice defused the yelling.

I was just about to start in with my bedtime lecture when this shy, concerned and quavering voice said,

“Mommy, will you love me even when I go to heaven?” (um, holy sh*t, I wasn’t prepared for that.)

Tears in my eyes, then, and now,

“Yes, of course. I will always love you.”

“But mommy, will you love me even when you are in heaven?”

“Yes, of course. I will always always love you. Forever and ever.”

“Because you have a big heart mommy???”

“Yes, and because I love you tons and tons. I will never stop loving you.”

“Okay. I love you mommy.”

“I love you too.”

And that was all he needed to hear to fall asleep. “I love you too.”

The day I became a Mommy…the best. moment. ever.

I tucked him in again, gave him another kiss and a hug. A hug that I didn’t want to end. I wanted to hold onto that moment forever. I wanted to hold onto my son forever, for him to feel just how much I love him. For him to feel at ease, for me to feel at ease. The mere thought of him ever being in heaven before me breaks my heart. The mere thought of him even worrying about that broke my heart.

I cried leaving the room. I cried because of the innocence of the conversation. I cried because of the fear that the conversation could be true some day. I cried because I love him so much. I cried because I was so glad that I had that conversation, that I didn’t yell.

All my son needed was to hear me say I love you one more time. I can’t imagine how tonight would have gone down if I when I opened that door I started screaming like I used to. Oh wait, yes I can. He would have started bawling. It would have taken 30 minutes to calm him down. And then he would have fallen asleep upset and still worrying about whether or not I would love him forever. Instead of that, we shared a truly beautiful moment.

So yes, not yelling is worth it. Because in not yelling, I shared this moment with my son. And I don’t think I will ever forget it. Ever.


I know many of you feel like you are “failing” this challenge because you didn’t go all day without yelling. But I am sure there has been, or will be, at least one if not more moment(s) on your journey on this Challenge where you didn’t yell and in turn had an amazing moment with your child, a moment that you’ll remember forever. What was that moment? Whenever you feel frustrated, remember that moment. And remind yourself all the hard work is worth it. For extra guidance on your journey to add more of those amazing moments to your days, check out my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” Part personal memoir, part parenting guide, fully supportive, my book hits shelves October 2014 but you can pre-order it now. Check out the details here

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19 thoughts on “Is Not Yelling Really Worth It?

  1. I love that you say that If we don’t yell we can have amazing moments with our kids and its so important and necessary that we try to stop ourselves from yelling at this little souls…I love my kids but due to so much stress in my life, more than a normal person will have (living in a foreign Country, not seeing my family for 7 years, living my the MIL, not having my own house..etc etc ) I feel I just gave up to everything. I barely smile or feel happy, I feel I became a yeller and lost my cool…which I wasn’t before. I do try my best to be a good mother and give them so much love, but at the same time have very little patience with them. :'(

  2. I am so glad I took the time to read your blog post! Totally touched my heart. I had tears in my eyes. Isn’t it so easy to forget the little ones have their own fears? And we need to listen and not yell. Truly powerful message! Inspiring me to keep rhinoing!

  3. Thank you. A very touching story. I am raising 3 boys too. It’s moments like this when I remind myself to shut up and listen. I get the end of the day can’t happen soon enough bedtime. This challenge came into my life at the right time. I am going through a lot of extended family stress and a long move. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. My children will be better off in so many ways. I would like to stay in the challenge for more than 30 days. This is a life changer! My oldest son gives me so many hugs as his help with my challenge. Mommy yell, mommy gets hug to calm me down. Powerful. His idea. Wow.

  4. I’ve struggled all my life with rage–I only wish I had found a website like this 15 yrs ago! My children are now 21 and 23 yrs old and although I usually recognized when I should not have yelled or lost it and then apologized–the author is so right when she writes you can not take words back. The damage is done! Sometimes I do still struggle with wanting to yell but I find myself biting my tongue and thinking through the scenario first which ends up giving me a better result. One of my children, my youngest, does have a problem with rage also. Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree–does it? Watching her have a meltdown is extremely upsetting to me and I try to convince myself that I wasn’t like that at her age…or was I? Either way, I hate seeing her out of control and hope that she, one day, will be able to control her emotions so that rage doesn’t adversely affect her life as it has mine.

  5. This is such a wonderful challenge. I think you should have some orange wristbands made that say the orange rhino challenge to help aid as a reminder. I would buy some for sure.

  6. Raising my 3 after divorce was the hardest time. I didn’t realize then that the utlimate pain of divorce just destroyed everything in my world. I know today but then it was so painful. I love my children so much and am so thankful for them. Our family has healed and I do not yell at all anymore. It took a lot of healing. God is my rock. The kid’s Dad & I get along and we are all close. I am sorry that I yelled around my children and to them. I cannot go back but I do everything today to tell them how much I love them.

  7. I can really relate to this because I have had moments almost exactly like this with my 5 year old! This inspires me to try harder today than I did yesterday!!

  8. So I yelled really really bad today! It wasn’t even their fault… I mean yes I could have corrected my son for going outside but it’s not his fault or dog runs! But I flipped out! Screaming and yelling in a deep down nasty voice! I HATE it!!!! I can’t help feeling like its toes to how my dad yelled at us when i was a kid! I hated it then and now I’m having the hardest time stopping!!! I sit down and tell them I’m so sorry for yelling time and time again and I explain that it’s not ok for mommy to tell like that. And they always say they forgive me. But that’s just NOT ok!!! I’m fed up!

    • I’ve been there; I have felt like I have used tones I hate; I feel for you!!! I spent my first days yelling AHHHHH at anything but my kids to help re-train myself and prove that I did have self control that I just needed to find it. I hope today/tomorrow goes smoother.

    • If you are trying to break a pattern seen over generations, you might need some help with that. I don’t know where you live, but I do mentoring/discipleship with precious ladies at our church who are struggling, at no charge, of course. Ask around. You may have help available to you that you’re unaware of. Hope you’re able to find some.

      Just a thought…anger is usually connected to grieving some kind of loss in your life. Hope that helps.

  9. I know this it totally not the point of your email, but wow! 7:15 sounds amazing. I’m lucky if I can get my boys to bed before 10:15, and even then my oldest is fighting it…youngest is only 4 months old, so he’s usually just up for his final diaper change & feeding before his long sleep (hallelujah, he sleeps through the night already!!). We had a rough night last night and I couldn’t get big brother to be still and quiet to listen to his bedtime story, which I was too tired to read anyway, so story time ended abruptly. As we lay down to go to sleep, he blew a kiss at me. I told him I loved him too and he was asleep in about 45 seconds.

  10. (Sobbing) Thank (inaudible) you (sniff) for this. I felt every amazingly described moment in this story as if I were reliving my own exhausting, end of my rope, my husband is working SO much overtime, hello wit’s end, day. During this challenge I am proud of the times I don’t yell…but I am most proud of the moments where I KNOW I’m going to yell, I can feel it boiling over, I’m already disappointed that I couldn’t find it in me to shake it off before I reacted…and then something happens to show me the bigger picture and I instantly snap out of it. Like this story. And I am so proud that I brought myself back down from the rage and remembered…my child is a person with legitimate feelings. My child has a right to be heard. Listen to your baby karen, she’s trying so hard to tell you something. Most days its just that she’s stalling. But sometimes its that she’s just not ready to let me out of her sight. These sweet, frustrating, unbearable…sweet days are numbered. You, my Orange Rhino friend, are changing lives…children’s lives…and are giving them a voice. My sweet girls thank you.

  11. This is a beautifully touching story. It brought tears to my eyes that rolled down my cheeks. Thank you for sharing. I keep trying to start the challenge and keep failing miserably. But I’m not giving up.

    • I am sorry you had a horrible afternoon and I do hope today is going better for you! Thank you for reading.

  12. Yikes. This was an eye opener for me. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. I think most people can relate, having children or not, because we all get annoyed and gloss over other’s needs when our own seem more important. Just loved this. 

    • Thank you for reading – I am glad you enjoyed it! It was such a powerful moment for me. To hear my son worried about going to heaven before me, well it woke me up too.

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