I recently found myself yelling at my kid. I know you have probably yelled at your kid. Frankly, I’ve done it more times than I’d like to admit.
But about a month ago I yelled like I have never yelled before and it felt awful. It felt like a mistake.
So if you thought this post was going to be a guide for how to yell at your kid, you are reading the wrong blog.
At Orange County Moms Blog, we like to make lemonade…sometimes with vodka….
(Let me know when that joke gets old.)
What I want to share is how I made a mistake, or as we say to our kid “a poor choice,” but I quickly recovered and turned this lemon into lemonade.
Here is the thing: it didn’t even feel like a choice in the moment.
I completely reacted out of panic. I was not in the moment. I was in the future in the potential consequences and in the past with all the work I had put in. My son? Well he was in the moment without me.
Let me back up and explain the incident.
I have a lot of things on my plate including multiple jobs where I am either the boss or responsible in a big way. Due to an upcoming deadline I had looming, my husband was graciously letting me get some work done at the dining room table while the kids played and he prepared dinner.
I made my first mistake (of the evening, not life): I walked away from the table with my laptop open* and a shared document open on the screen.
*Let me just point out that technology is not my strong suit and Excel and Google Sheets fall into this category.
When I returned, my three-year-old was sitting in my chair and tapping the keys. I noticed there were now empty fields and a field with gibberish in it. (FYI: as I was editing this, I had to stop and ask if “fields” was the right word…it is.)
In that split second I was in the past (all my hard work gone to waste) and in the future (oh no, this shared document is ruined and I’m going to have to deal with that).
So I made the next mistake. I yelled. Really, I screamed at him and pulled him quickly away.
He reacted by looking at me with utter fear and sadness and began to cry, a cry that was very different than his I’m-three-and-I-don’t-like-not-getting-my-way cry.
This simultaneously broke my heart and brought me back to the moment.
Here comes the lemonade.
I instantly went into mom mode, picked him up and apologized, then comforted him. I told him he was not in trouble. He would not be getting a time out but, frankly, mommy deserved a time out.
Once he was calm we talked for a brief moment while he was sitting on my lap in that chair.
Side note: as I was talking to him I pushed the keys for the “undo” command multiple times and all he did to “destroy” my work was undone as if it never happened.
But my behavior of yelling at my kid and his reaction did happen.
I told him that he was not in trouble because mommy made the mistake of leaving the computer with work up. However, it was important that he follow the rule we have created to not touch other people’s things without asking. Mommy got very upset because I was scared that my work was ruined. But my reaction of yelling at him was not ok. And I’m sorry he got scared.
By the way, I knew he was scared because he said he was.
He said he just wanted to do his work. A game he likes to play that frankly I think is pretty great.
I said “Ok, lets do your work together. Were you trying to write something?” He said his name. So I opened a new Word doc and sat with him on my lap as he searched the keyboard for the letters in his name. Then I said, “how about the alphabet?”
He started to smile and we got all the way to L before he was bored. I asked him if he would like me to print out his work so he could keep it. This made him very excited.
I gave it to him and he showed his daddy and sister then put it with his coloring stash. He then quietly and happily went back to his dinner as if nothing happened.
It is also important to note I told him I love him multiple times. I told him that even when mommy is mad she loves him and that there is nothing he can do to make me stop loving him.
This whole incident was probably well under 5 minutes but it effected all of us and I like to think we all learned from it.
I kind of laughed and washed off the negativity of the experience.
What was remarkable is I in no way felt judged by my husband because…wait for it… he was not judging me. And I didn’t judge myself. There was NO GUILT, I repeat NO GUILT.
Maybe a better title would have been the “Yelling At My Kid with No Guilt Edition.”
So to recap:
When you are human and act out as a parent in such a way as yelling and scaring your kid, here are some tips for turning that lemon into lemonade:
- Breathe and get yourself back in the moment. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Maybe you even have to excuse yourself from the room or do some jumping jacks (it may sound ridiculous but it works.)
- Comfort your child if need be. Even if they need to know what they did was wrong, their well-being comes first and the lesson can come second.
- Explain yourself, don’t hide your short comings. Your child is not perfect so why try and model perfection. What an amazing lesson to let your child know that there are better tools than yelling or what ever you did, and that parents are still learning too.
- Don’t forget to address the initial issue. Most likely you weren’t acting out because they were following the rules, and your bad behavior doesn’t negate theirs.
- Find a positive. Share the moment. Maybe do time out or a chore together. Or like in my case, find a compromise that fits the rule but still gives the child some of what they want. You can’t touch mommy’s computer without asking but we can certainly learn about the computer together while I supervise.
- NO GUILT, NO JUDGEMENT, you are human, parenting is hard, and you are doing the best you can.