In my line of work, non-violent communication is key, as is the art of listening. In my home, with two kids and very busy days, I sometimes have a hard time applying what I’ve been practicing at work. I’ve found myself shouting at my eldest a lot more these days. As the French would put it, I “râle”! Râler is a verb that covers a wide spectrum of complaining behaviours, and is used a lot by the French!
While we try our best at home to deal in a non-threatening way with our toddler’s tantrums and meltdowns, it has been more challenging in the past few months. Because I love researching, I’ve been reading a lot about non-violent communication with kids and positive discipline. I’m not always completely convinced by the books I read, because the people who write them seem to all have compliant and angelic children, not exactly the model I have… I have more of a spirited child, with a very strong will and little patience. Dang!
Like any other mom I have my good days and my bad days. Sometimes the kids are really needy and whinny all day and there’s just too much to get done and I lose it a bit. I’ll forget to give my eldest a snack before we go grocery shopping and will have to deal with the dreaded public meltdown. Instead of feeling empathy for my kid, I’ll feel ashamed and frustrated. I’ll threaten and shout. Not really good if you’re going for the good-mom badge… For some reason, my kids really know how to trigger me and press my buttons, especially when I’m tired or dealing with a lot of physical pain…
So, I got really excited recently to hear about another French mom’s idea: to challenge ourselves by trying to go through 21 days without shouting at our kids. This mom’s idea stemmed from a nice post on a website called jarretederaler.com. The goal is to stop complaining and finding better ways to deal with the curve balls life throws at us on a daily basis.
So here we go… starting Monday, I’ll start my own 21-day challenge. Printing up and posting the website’s 7 tips to stop shouting at kids:
1- Breathe and speak in a very soft voice – kids will have to stop and listen to hear you
2- Sit on the floor – get to your kid’s level to hear him out and fill up his need for emotional support
3- Go for a pee-break – taking an adult time-out helps!
4- Sing! To take some of the tension away…
5- Mirror your kid – repeat what they say or their behaviour. I’ve already tried that and mirrored my eldest’s tantrum behaviour. It was totally effective; he fizzled out and started laughing!
6- If he could he would – kids really want to please, most of the time! Sometimes I get frustrated because he spills his milk but often he doesn’t do it on purpose…
7- Set barriers – kids test the limits so being consistent is key. Something all parenting books stress so there’s probably something to it.
I’ll let you know how I did after 21 days! My husband gets to give out yellow and red cards when I raise my voice, so he’ll be the referee for my challenge.
I’m also reading Parenting From the Inside Out, to learn how to deal with some of the stuff that triggers me. This book was recommended to me by several friends who went through a similar questioning about their tendency to lose their temper.
How do you deal with your kids when they frustrate you or trigger you?
and in French: