So after two weeks of prompts to track, analyze, and derail yelling via the Orange Rhino project, I have come to a surprising conclusion.
I don’t yell that much.
When I do yell at Owlet, it is almost always when she is behaving roughly toward me or Platypup, or making him cry in some other way.
I am still finding this process valuable. I may have a handle on keeping the volume down, but I still feel plenty angry more often than I’d like. The other day we were prompted to define the aspects of a trigger that can and cannot be changed. Here’s mine:
“I cannot change the fact that my daughter sometimes makes her brother cry or is too rough with me, but I have a lot of options for (1) trying to keep a better eye on things during tired/grumpy/stressful moments, (2) responding as gently as I can while still maintaining safety, and most importantly (3) seeing all the wonderful things she does do, including being gentle most of the time.”
Plus, lately Owlet has been impersonating my child-self. I will say something to stop or otherwise correct her at a normal speaking volume and she will loudly proclaim, “you yelled at me!” At first my response was always, “no, I wasn’t loud at all,” but then I remembered having felt exactly the same way. To an adult, yelling = loud. End of story. But to a kid? It’s all about tone.
Anyway, it is apparently goal-setting time. Mama Rhino has decreed it. (Well, she decreed it yesterday, but hey, I’m not too badly behind.) Further, she says we are more likely to achieve our aims if we make them public. Of course, I immediately thought of you.
So here they are. We were guided toward setting some sort of time limit or other achievable number, but that’s just not how I roll.
(1) stop yelling, except in truly dangerous situations.
(2) stop complaining, out loud or to myself. Find ways to rephrase if it needs to be said, and strive to let it go if it doesn’t.
(3) stop verbally correcting behavior as much as possible. Whenever relevant, focus instead on becoming a more effective demonstrator.
(4) every morning, make tea and instead of immediately checking email, bustling around, or worst, setting it down in “a safe place” and drinking its sad lukewarm oversteeped murk hours later, spare a moment to fill up with love for two amazing kids and their heckuva dad while savoring it.
(5) stretch ye olde weake memory! Every night, review the high points of the day, ideally in conversation. Is there really a reason to tally life with sorrows, disappointments, and frustrations rather than, well, not doing that?