I Took A Seminar To Stop Yelling At My Kids
By Julia Lipscombe
PHOTO © Iakov Filimonov/123RF
Aug 13, 2018
At 9:10 p.m. on a Tuesday, I heard our middle son creep down the stairs with his water bottle. I took a deep breath and prepared my spiel.
“Honey, I’ve noticed that we’ve been having some trouble with bedtime lately. It seems like when I let you stay up late, you find all of these reasons to get out of bed. From now on, it’s your responsibility to get water and go to the bathroom and do everything else you need to do before you go to bed. And if you don’t do those things, you won’t get to stay up late anymore.”
... while I don’t scream at my kids and I’m not a mean parent — I do see some room for self-improvement.
My middle son nodded.
“Does that seem fair?”
“Ok, so what did I just say?”
I had my son repeat the messaging. He agreed.
I breathed a sigh of relief and floated into the kitchen to clean up.
The script I had just recited to my son came from a free parenting webinar from Positive Parenting Solutions. It was called Get Kids to LISTEN Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling.
I know. It seems gimmicky and salesy and like something I would avoid like the plague. (Admittedly, I’ve never read a parenting book in my life.)
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I can’t even remember how I stumbled upon it online… I think it was one of those things where my phone was listening to me talk to my friend or husband, and boom! Up pops an ad for this highly relevant seminar in my Facebook feed.
And it made me pause.
Because, you see, while I don’t scream at my kids and I’m not a mean parent — I do see some room for self-improvement. Between my husband and I, I’m the one with the shorter fuse who raises my voice more often. I hate losing my cool with our three boys — ages 10, eight and almost two — and I wanted to get out of that cycle.
I know. [The webinar] seems gimmicky and salesy and like something I would avoid like the plague.
Seminar host Amy McCready talks about the cycle at the beginning of the seminar, and it sounded like she was describing my life:
It starts out with your kids misbehaving. You ask them in your nicest voice to stop. Then they continue to misbehave. You lose your cool and yell at them. Then you feel guilty and apologize. Then you feel powerless because you’re the bad guy even though they’re the ones who were acting poorly.
I desperately wanted to get off of the frustration, anger and guilt treadmill. Plus, my situation is a little extra complicated.
My two oldest kids are actually my stepsons. I’m extremely sensitive when we’re not in perfect harmony because I fear that they’ll just stop liking me. They’re going to love their mother and father no matter what. But their stepmom? What if they just decide that I suck? I find myself in a constant struggle to avoid the major stepmother tropes: naive pushover and evil stepmother.
The stepmother I want to be: loving, firm, fair and someone the boys can talk to. And every time I yell or nag, I feel myself slipping further away from the parent I aspire to be.
And so, the seminar felt like an easy and natural fit.
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The core of McCready’s instruction — what she calls her “no-yelling formula” is based around the “Five Rs of Consequences.” She explains that when we give our child consequences to their actions, we must give them without blame, shame or pain.
Consequences must be Respectful. If you can’t talk to them calmly, don’t bother. Address it later.
Consequences must be Related. For instance, if your kid didn’t eat his lunch at school, don’t take away his video game privileges. Consider, instead, withholding dessert that night.
The consequence must be Reasonable in duration — grounding them for a month for a small infraction, for example, is a no-go.
The consequence must be Revealed in advance, so that your child knows that he or she is in charge of the outcome.
And the consequence must be Repeated back to you so that you’re sure you’re all on the same page.
It was armed with this info that I approached my eight-year-old as he came down the stairs. And it’s how I plan to tackle the other minor issues that are sure to arise over the next weeks and months with the kids.
McCready’s free webinar — though straightforward and useful — mostly seems like it’s meant to entice you to purchase her parenting courses. But even in that hour, I felt empowered.
I’m sure the method will work to some extent (though I’m skeptical about never yelling again, something McCready says is totally possible). But in truth, it’s not even about how well it ends up working. Just having the tools available in my toolbox is already making me a less frazzled, stressed-out and irritable parent. Just knowing I have the “5 Rs” (cheesy as it may sound) to draw upon gives me more confidence.
Yelling is something you do when you feel like you have no other choice. And now, I’ve got choices. And I choose to leave the evil-stepmother trope in the rearview. Permanently.