I've gotta admit. I've lost it at times. More than once. And although I'm not going to blame my children for my behaviour, I will say that often their behaviour, and the fact that I do this mothering gig pretty much 24/7, contributes. It's all that pent up frustration. But I'm not alone. According to the New York Times article, a study in 2003 found that parental yelling was a near-universal occurrence with 88% of parents interviewed for the study acknowledging shouting, screaming or yelling at their kids at least once in the previous year.
I've had many a conversation with other mums about this sort of thing. One mum told me about the time she chased her child around the house shouting at her so much that she went hoarse with it all. Another shouted so loud at her child, it made the child flinch. And many, many parents have told me how they "lost it" after hours of frustrating behaviour from their kids.
Yep. Been there. Done that.
There was the time I decided to take the dog for a walk (he was only new to our family at the time). We were standing in the hallway near the front door and I said to my boys, "Now. Stay here. I'll go around the back, get the dog, come down the side and let you out the front door. Ok? Don't go anywhere." They all nodded in agreement. Yes, Mum. Gotchya.
Fortunately, the dog came fairly quickly to me and I took him to the front, only to find all my children playing IN THE FRONT YARD!!! The 7yr old had decided to "let them out", because "they wanted to go outside." I lost it. "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!" I shouted over and over again, visions of my 2yr old flat on the road after being hit by a car flashing through my mind. (He was distracted by his tricycle at the time, otherwise, I'm quite certain the road would have been his next stop.) I only stopped yelling when I noticed a woman across the road, slowing down and then stopping, watching me. I imagined her getting out her mobile phone and calling DOCS, so I calmed down. (In fact, thinking about it now, that was quite a disastrous walk with the dog, but that's a post for another time.)
I don't like it when I shout. I really don't. But I think I know why I do it. As the article states, "Parental yelling today may be partly a releasing of stress for multitasking, overachieving adults, parenting experts say."
I found the year my 7yr old son started Kindy was one of the most difficult years I've experienced since he was born. I had a newborn baby, a preschooler and a son starting school, with lunches to pack, after school activities to get him to, in between breastfeeding, cleaning, cooking. And with no outside help (both our families live interstate), so no chance of even a short break, I was very stressed. I think I yelled a lot that year.
In fact, this year, even though I've been incredibly busy at times with my commitments with the school etc, I have been far calmer. And I attribute this to having my two "days off" when my 2yr old goes to daycare. With the big boys in school, it's much needed time to myself and allows me to re-charge my batteries. I definitely find I'm more likely to yell if I'm feeling stress myself or I'm under pressure to get things done. And, quite frankly, sometimes yelling is the only way I can get my boys' attention. Sometimes, they're so damn loud I have to shout "Hey! Hey!" just so that they can hear me above all the noise. Hmph.
Anyway, taking a deep breath, counting to 10 in your head might help. I'll give it a go anyway.
Until next time...