Friday, February 17, 2012

The No Yelling Rule

Three weeks ago I took it upon myself to institute a no yelling rule in the house. The rule is primarily geared to combat angry yelling, but we are applying it to all forms of yelling, including annoying screaming (seriously, I only want to hear ear piercing screeches if you're injured or being kidnapped) and inappropriately loud talking (guilty of doing it and guilty of passing the gene on to Camden). I had to back track a bit the day after I made this decree upon the house and explain to my husband why I felt it was important and to ask that we help hold each other accountable. Generally I talk to him about these things beforehand, but my impulsive nature got the best of me, leaving me to roll with it or face losing my credibility.

Thankfully, the rule is working out. The first week was very tough, and I seriously considered just carrying around a recording of me reiterating "remember, there is no yelling in the house." I easily said it at least a hundred times in seven days, and because of the no yelling rule, I of course had to say it in my calmest voice. Hudson is throwing a tantrum for the fourth time in thirty minutes? Calm Mommy. Jason has been in the shower for forty minutes while I herd cats, I mean kids. Calm wife. I step on a Lego and embed it into my foot? Cursing under my breath Mommy.

But now something is starting to happen in my house, in my family, in my marriage. All the chaos is still there. We've got four kids, come on. But the volume and the undertone are starting to shift. It comes more naturally for me to approach conflict with the kids calmly, and an apology to my husband is more freely given. I get more eye contact from the boys when we discuss choices and consequences. It doesn't mean the anger isn't there. They still get to feel what they feel. They just have to choose a better way of expressing it.

I told a friend my theory was that if we spoke without yelling long enough, the calm voice would become habit. My hope is to change the dynamic of my family. If we're yelling, I want it to be because we are outside playing and laughing or trying to hear each other over the crashing waves at Tybee. I don't want the "normal" my kids grow up with to be yelling.

On Valentine's Day, Jason and sat on the couch together after the kids went to bed, he sifting through files for the next day and me catching up on DVR shows. At one point he fell asleep with his head in my lap. It was not a particularly exciting night, but it was perfect. Throughout the day we reminded each other of the no yelling rule, and sometimes we tag teamed to give the other person a breather. I didn't get defensive when he held me accountable, which is huge. I'm starting to feel like I'm one half of true parent partners, which is something I think all kids desperately need. I'm not saying this journey won't be challenging, but I feel like we can stick to it. I believe it's working for all six of us and not just for the kids. Keep your fingers crossed.

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