It dawned on me last weekend, my voice escalating with each successive request, that yelling at my kids is an adult tantrum.
“Guys, come over here. We need to go. Let’s get our shoes on.”
“Hello? Did you hear me? We need to leave in five minutes. Can you please come to the door?”
“IS ANYONE LISTENING TO ME? WE NEED TO GO NOW! IF I HAVE TO ASK ONE MORE TIME THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES!!!!”
I wasn’t stomping my feet, crying or throwing anything, but that’s only because I’m 41 years old and I’ve learned how to control a few of my emotions. I WAS feeling ignored, frustrated and certainly not getting my way. It was a full on adult tantrum, and it did nothing to help the situation.
Maybe I yell too much? I don’t think I’m a scary screamer, however in a recent series of interviews with our kids that will air over the next several podcast episodes, the feedback I received is that I do yell frequently. It is possible that my kids have a wide definition of the word “yelling”, meaning that they interpret anything not in my standard voice (deep and sexy) as yelling. Regardless, perception is reality.
The world of a parent is one of constant demands, sacrifice and sleep deprivation. (Consequently, those are the same preconditions that set our children up to have tantrums.). So what can we do to reduce our adult tantrums given the fact that our reality is not going to change? I have a few thoughts which I have yet to put into practice, but intend to do so in short order:
- Keep things in perspective. I’m asking my kids to get their shoes on, the fate of the free world is not at stake.
- Remember that this was my choice. Despite the insatiable human urge to procreate, no one forced me to have kids. I made this bed, so to speak. Kids are wee bit frustrating at times, it’s part of the deal.
- Take a deep breath, get at eye level and explain from the start. A six-year-old boy isn’t thinking ten steps ahead. He isn’t intuitively processing the ramifications of being late and how that connects to his shoes. A six-year-old boy just wants to finish digging some dumb pixelated Minecraft hole. Asking your child, in a calm voice, why they are not complying should also be part of this exchange. It could be a teachable moment for both parties.
So there you have it. Three simple (potential) ways to reduce adult tantrums. Take them for a spin and see if you spaz out less. The goal, of course, is to ultimately have more obedient children who require less of your ire. Increased household harmony would be a blissful side effect.
A six-year-old boy just wants to finish digging some dumb pixelated Minecraft hole.
We should also be comfortable with the fact that now and then it is ok to yell. Sometimes it just feels good, and a little bit of crazy here and there gives us some personality. As a bonus, maybe if we yell less it will work better when we really need it. Like if the fate of the free world is at stake.