Growing up in my house we called it “raising our voice,” in my husband’s house they called it “yell talking,” but in our own home, we “gently redirect.” At two, it feels easy to follow this method. We take away her cup when she is dumping milk all over the table, we take away her plate when she decides to paint with broccoli, we catch her when she runs naked through the house refusing to put on her PJs and force them over her head when she’s caught.
When she shoved a 3D plastic puzzle piece in my eye I googled “what to do when your toddler hits you.” It isn’t so simple then. The article said to hold her hand and tell her no, but our toddler thinks she is a comedian and apparently she is now in to slapstick comedy.
I remember the feeling of being yelled at when I was young. I would freeze and curl up in shame. When I was older, the yelling led to more yelling and it seemed to make situations worse, never better. I turned out fine, if I do say so myself, but we can all learn from what our parents did wrong and right.
I want to practice patience and compassion now — to take the time to breathe before I get upset. If I practice this now, it will be easier not to yell when she’s older, right?
We can set forth to be the type of mothers we want to be now though we can’t say it will definitely hold up. We don’t know what will come in the future and what kind of humans our kids will be. I hope that raising mine with patience and compassion will make her the type of human I hope for her to be in the future — one that treats others with kindness and compassion.
In the toddler stage, it isn’t easy not to yell, though I try to remember it is the stage of exploration. I’ve learned to let go of the mess. I’ve learned to have her help me wash the crayon off the walls when they become her canvas (and only use washable art items). The hardest part of trying not to yell is not the days I’m most tired and she won’t go to bed, or the days she refuses her dinner and keeps yelling for cookies.
The hardest is when I yell because I fear for her safety. My mom nerves begin to blink red when she runs toward the end of our driveway (thank the lord it’s super long). My mom nerves began to blink double red when she decided to practice her summersault where her landing pad was a friend’s baby.
Even harder, is learning how to fight with my husband. I say how to fight, because couples are always going to fight and I know we’re always going to fight. A couples therapist once said he worries if his clients are not ending up sleeping on the couch at least once a week. We don’t sleep in separate rooms, but we bicker, and we’re hard headed. Having both been raised in “yelling” households, you can imagine what this might escalate to.
Before having a baby, petty fights about one of us wanting to go out and the other not wanting to go out and wanting the other to stay home (ahem, I won’t say who is who) could escalate to yelling. These fights also de-escalated much quicker because there was less at steak. These days, we certainly bicker about ridiculous things, but when we fight it is about our child and our life as a family. These things are heavy, they determine how our lives will play out and how the life of our child will play out. We have had to check ourselves when we begin to fight in front of her. We have had to learn how to put on a happy face when we are still mad at each other–to let our daughter’s happiness dictate our own. We go to couple’s counseling to break the cycles set by our families so we don’t have to be a “yelling” household.
Fighting with a spouse will happen. Fighting with a child will happen, and eventually they will have the language to fight back. Our dog will poop on the floor to spite us sometimes. I will deal with all the problems Bounty has laid out in paper towel commercials. We are not The Brady Bunch, we can’t solve everything with an upbeat voice and a sit-down talk.
We aren’t perfect and we never will be, but we’re trying. We’re learning to be mindful by having our daughter constantly on our minds. We’re learning not to have immediate reactions, and if we do, to comfort our daughter following the reaction. I know our parenting will change as time goes on and as our daughter changes. I want to always expand my ability to be in tune, patient, and compassionate…and to keep our voices down.