I thought it was funny, that the year mark fell on ashley’s baptism day. for anyone who has had a special event of this magnitude take place, you know that that day is stressful! if you make it through without yelling, emotional breakdowns, or threats on another’s life, then you have succeeded.
well, I made it!
let’s catalog the events that took place this past year, that I managed to not yell through, shall we?
- one trip to disneyland. (this was a trial.)
- two lagoon trips.
- 3 birthdays. (and all the prep work and EXCITEMENT!! from the girls.)
- one summer, kinda stacked with chores, and the arguments that inevitably follow.
- countless nights of homework. need I say more?
- countless nights of little girls getting out of their own beds, and coming to mine.
- one month of merrill being gone (gone two weeks at a time).
- one lake powell trip.
- many, many pictures taken.
- a number of sacrament meetings. (oh, you know what I am talking about?)
how did I do it?
well, let me tell you that I have set this goal many times. I was just never fully committed, or desired the change bad enough, I guess. it was ashley’s birthday last year, and I can tell you that she is my kid who knows how to push buttons, and I felt so bad at the end of that day. I felt like she was yelled at more than anything that day. that is not how it should have been that day, or any other.
I got out of the house to play volleyball, and afterward, had quite the heart to heart with my best friend. I know that my change of heart came at the right time when she started to share information with me from a class she had been to that night.
it was an answered prayer.
some of the things that were discussed at her class were just the helps I needed, some tips that would get me going the way I wanted to go.
- talk low and slow. (I think I am scarier when I do this than when I yell.)
- set reasonable punishments, and when you lay out a punishment/consequence, stick with it.
- take deep breaths. (even if you pass out.)
sometimes, I was talking so low and so slow, my teeth were gritted so tight, I thought they would never part again. but the girls HAD to listen, HAD to pay attention, or else they wouldn’t be able to hear.
the consequence thing was kind of hard at first, I wanted to throw out the scariest possible consequence just to scare them into obeying, but realizing that they would call my bluff, I had to learn to stop, think, sometimes ponder it for the night, and then set a consequence that would be both effective and reasonable.
a great example was a sacrament meeting when I was single parenting it up, and ashley was pushing my buttons. I told her that if she kept it up, we would have to move to the foyer, the way she was behaving was not appropriate for the chapel, and that it would not be good. well, we moved out to the foyer, and it wasn’t good. I told her that she would have her prized possessions repossessed, all that would be left to her in her room would be her bed, her clothes, and her bedding.
blaming my older brother for some of her personality traits, she got real smart-ass like, and asked, “oh yeah? will you take my light? will you take my door? will you take my carpet…” and that was when I started to drag her out of the church, taking those deep breaths all along the way.
once we were home, I sat her on the stairs in the entryway, and explained to her what she had done, what I had told her would be her punishment, and then how she kept on.
she sat there and watched as I moved EVERYTHING out of her room.
she was left with a bed with her bedding, a nightstand and lamp, an empty bookshelf, a mirror on her wall, and her clothes.
once she saw that I was serious, the tears began. after letting her have a time out in her very empty room, we laid out a plan for how she could earn her belongings back. every day, she had the opportunity to earn back 3 things: 1) if she were obedient getting ready for school and stayed on task. 2) coming home and getting homework done without complaint. and 3) getting ready for bed and having a clean room. some days were really good, and I was generous and would let her get an item or two more than the three, some days she was only allowed to pick out one. that first night, she only got to pick out one item instead of the two we had talked about. that was a hard night for her, she chose a stuffed animal over her cd player. she learned pretty quickly that if something were important to her, she had better do her part to have what she wanted.
she has finally earned back all of her belongings. :)
but most of all, I prayed. every day and night I would pray for help, and give a prayer of gratitude for how far I had come.
I decided that I didn’t want my home to feel the way it did anymore, I wanted my children to listen to me, instead of zone me out again because I was yelling again. I wanted to better my relationship with them. our home has been a happier place, when merrill comes home there isn’t such a dark cloud (most of the time).
but mostly, I wanted to be the kind of parent that my heavenly father would want me to be. he never yells at me, I am sure he wants to sometimes, but his ways are better, and they do not include anger and yelling.
another good “side effect” of this change, is that my kids listen to me when I do yell. like, when I was painting peyton’s room, she started to back into a wet wall, and when I yelled her name, she listened! she ran to me, instead of away from me, like she would have. another time as we were all leaving a store, walking through the parking lot, like a mother duck with her ducklings in tow, a car was coming too fast, and I yelled for them to run, and guess what, they listened.
I am so happy I made this change.
it has been a great year!