I’ll Admit It: I Yell At My Kids

by Red Pill Mama · 4 comments

in Character,Education

I hate this about myself as a parent.  A little voice says, “Red Pill Parents don’t yell.”  It usually happens when we have to be somewhere at a certain time, when being late has consequences (the bus stop, dance class, a birthday party, etc.)  And it’s typically because despite all the literal verbal clues I’m giving them, i.e. “Come on, we’re running late,” “Hurry!”, “Faster!”, my kids still seem to think their typical speed is appropriate.  And their typical speed is: Moderate.  This translates to approximately 35 miles an hour on back roads.  It’s fast enough to get you there eventually, and you’ll enjoy the scenery along the way, but sometimes you really just need to get on the damn highway and hit the gas.

My frustration rises up in me like a breaching whale, and before I can even think about controlling it, it’s broken the surface, and I’m blowing hard.  The sheer force of my voice in these moments brings instant tears from both of my kids, and in my son in particular it has the complete opposite of the intended effect, because he just freezes.  I could be in his face screaming for him to run, and he’ll just stand still and cry.  It breaks my heart, and I just feel sick afterward.

I’ve always struggled with how to handle this.  I know it’s up to me to prevent situations where we have too many tasks to pack in to too little time, where I’m expecting more than their little selves can deliver.  That much is crystal clear.  But when I do blow my top, what should I do?  Should I retain my parental authority and try to instill the responsibility into them, by basically saying, “Well, that’s what I had to do to get you moving”?  Or do I fully admit that what I did was wrong, apologize profusely and smother them with hugs and kisses?

Regardless of which answer is right, if this happens in the morning before school, I’m watching the clock by the afternoon because I just can’t wait to see them and do just that: smother them with hugs and kisses and make everything better.  And as it turns out, experts agree.  Northside Hospital’s magazine arrived yesterday (with a late middle aged couple on the cover and a “4 Reasons to Love Menopause” article inside: geez, how old do they think I am?), and in an article entitled “Healthy habits that build a confident child,” there’s a paragraph about admitting your mistakes.  It reads:

“If you lose your temper or are mistaken about something, apologize to your child.  This prevents them from believing your wrath was appropriate, and it teaches your child how to make amends when a situation jumps the tracks.”

Holding on to our parental authority and making it the child’s fault that we yelled seems so last-generation, like something our own dads might have done (my dad was never wrong).  But what the magazine says rings true for me, intellectually and emotionally.  By telling them it wasn’t OK for Mommy to yell, I’m telling them that yelling is not OK — which means, hopefully, that they won’t do it, and they won’t tolerate it from others.  By apologizing, I’m modeling for them how to take responsibility for your own behavior, admit mistakes and make amends.  Part of me is worried that someday they’ll brazenly criticize me for my yelling.  But you know what?  That’s kind of the idea, isn’t it.

So in the end, maybe Red Pill Parents do yell (occasionally) — but what makes us Red Pill Parents is that having yelled, we then put our own egos and self-righteousness aside, and instead show our children what is right: personal responsibility, accountability, apologies and lots of love.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anastasia January 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I could have written this myself, except in my case, my son actually imitates me later (he yells at his clothes, his toys, etc). Thank you for giving voice to us yellers.

I have found that being in a rush sends everyone into a frenzy–I am still working on allowing enough time to get us all ready, out the door, and allow for unforseen circumstances (exploding diapers, last minute potty trips). It’s a work in progress for us all.

I am big into apologizing and admitting my mistakes, even when my temper hasn’t been directed towards my kids. I think it works.

Louisa January 28, 2010 at 8:32 am

I could also have written this – I found the most amazing difference came about when I cut out sugar from their and my diet, really, it is astounding what a difference this chemical can make to ‘heat of the moment’ situations. i.e. when we are franticly trying to get the kids somewhere, I think I have even written a few posts myself on this issue!!

Nothing else I tried worked, apart from giving up school completely and homeschooling the girls because I could not stand those ‘mornings’.

It may help if you write a food/mood diary like I have been doing – the connections between sugar and mood are really obvious after a week of close scrutiny. Mornings before school are often worst when there has been a heavy consumption of carbohydrates and little protein the night before. It does not even take the white stuff to trigger one of these situations! But the times you mention, after parties, running around all day with no food, etc are the danger times. Children should have a meal with some kind of protein every three hours – I found that whilst I was cutting sugar out of my diet, I needed to eat far sooner than that!

It can be REALLY hard, really, really hard – but diet plays a huge role, it is nothing really to do with the parent or the child’s behaviour……

Lou x

Red Pill Mama February 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Louisa, you are definitely on to something there, reinforcing the food/mood connection that keeps popping up for me lately. A friend has been reading “Potatoes Not Prozac” — and I myself have made a recent major dietary change that, combined with more exercise than I’ve ever had since high school, has drastically altered my overall mood. Despite writing this post, there’s been a lot less yelling and overall anger since I made this change. It’s extraordinary. Combine this with the latest cover story in Newsweek — that anti-depressants don’t work — and our assumptions about mood are really getting shaken up! I love your food diary idea: I may have to give that a try …

Louisa February 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

I have to say from experience – I have one sugar sensitive child of 7 years old – that when she stays away from ALL sugar products, which means unrefined carbs too, she is like another person entirely, sweet, affectionate, kind and loving, whereas the sugar makes her well, uncontrollable to the point of hatred and harm, which in turn makes me yell.

I have relatives staying in our house right now and the pressure is unbearable, they have filled the house with white bread, jams and biscuits, and it is very hard not to seem like a ‘spoil-sport’ so I let my daughter have them, even though I know what will happen to her, I know that she will be uncontrollable at some point later in the day, and yes, sure enough, half an hour ago she was ranting and raving and throwing a tantrum about a minor thing between her and her cousin.

It is always the line that you draw between seeming mean by not letting your kids have certain things and knowing that you are harming them by giving it to them and always in the worst ‘social’ situations where you give in……it is the same with the TV and computer games.

Making the connection between sugar and mood is SO important! I know that there are thousands of parents that feel unable to cope, unable to DO anything about it – because they don’t know what it is that is causing this behaviour.

It is sugar.

And I have to say, I, myself have taken 2 months to get sugar free, and my moods are still like a roller coaster ride, although generally I can cope a little better when the ‘situation’ arises. This stuff is such a drug and so destructive. All I want is a smiling, happy family, which, when I can control the sugar intake of ALL of us, it is!

Lou x

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