Dalyn’s Week 4: My Name is Dalyn and I’m a Yeller

I have about a million excuses I could use for not having met any of my goals–especially my goal to blog here once a week–for the past two weeks. And frankly, the excuses are pretty good: kids didn’t let me sleep for over a week, semester kicked into high gear, we bought a house, etc. But that’s life right?

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What kind of asshole could possibly yell at these adorable children?

While I haven’t exactly been productive in ways that I’d like to report on, I have been doing some reading and thinking about what I would like to work on beyond becoming a morning person (that’s clearly going to be a long labor of love). With the stress of moving and school for many of us, the thing that keeps coming to mind, over and over and over again, is that I need to figure out new ways to communicate with my kids. Basically, I need to stop yelling at them.

I yell at them to get their coats on. I yell at them to get in bed. I yell at them to be careful around Moxie. I yell at them to stop fighting. I yell at them be quiet. The irony is just too much.

I’m a rhetorician. I should have about a million tools at my disposal to work on this issue. I shouldn’t need a challenge or an app, but I’m beginning to suspect that the 5-year-old and under mind is just not responsive to well-crafted rhetoric.

For example, I attempt to use some carefully crafted logos. “Dashiell, I know you’re upset that Eames took your toy. But actually, Eames picked up that toy first, then you walked over and took it from him, which he then took back. Therefore, he is the original owner and you actually took it from him. But, there’s the exact same toy over there that you can play with. Here.” Dashiell’s response? “This toy not the same. Eames no touch it. Stop busting me out.”

Fine. 3- and 5- year old brains are not wired for logic. But pathos should work, right? “Eames, when you do that it really hurts your brother’s feelings. He thinks you don’t like him and that makes him sad.” Eames’s response? “I just never ever. You jealous! He always gets to go first! I never ever want to play again. I just won’t play until ever!” This is followed by him complete surrender to gravity. Basically, he out-pathos’s me every time.

Ethos. Well, I think my yelling has effectively undermined my ethos, hasn’t it?

So, I’ve turned to the kind of parenting advice that has always made me shudder. I’m not ashamed to say I need a drink many days after the kids have been particularly trying, but I am a little ashamed to say that I watched a “positive parenting” webinar the other night too.

So, I’m taking the Orange Rhino Challenge. While that blogger decided to go 365 days without yelling, I’m aiming at a more modest 7 days. The reality is that I’ll stop feeling the motivation shortly (after about 3 weeks if this blog is any indication), so I need short frequent goals rather than a big.

The Orange Rhino chick suggests tracking your yelling for a few days to get a better sense of your triggers. I’m not sure I can handle that level of truth. I do know, however, that the yelling tends to happen during transitions–particularly, getting out the door for school and bedtime. Getting up early greatly reduced the stress of getting out the door, so that’s another reason to jump back on that train. Count downs and warnings about how much time is left also helps. But reality is that the kids are tired. An I’m tired. They can’t really control their emotions (and sometimes actions) yet, but I can even if I can’t always control theirs. So this week I will control mine by not yelling at them. And I’ll keep track of the times I do, if I do, and report them back here so I’m accountable. Sigh.

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