In a previous post I spoke about the fact that I had made a conscious decision to be a non-shouter and I briefly went into my reasons for making this decision. As I mentioned in that post, it is incredibly challenging to NOT get to that point and in this post I thought that I would share what works FOR ME to prevent me from crossing over.
1. Set boundaries and be VERY clear about them.
This means different things to different people. To me this means putting myself first, saying no if I need to and possibly breaking up with losers/users/drainers. People outside of my home were usually the ones taking advantage of my kindness, things often spiralled out of control and then something small within the home would set me off and I would take it out on my own little family. Vicious cycle Setting boundaries to me also means being very clear with my kids about which behaviours were completely unacceptable.
2. Get to know yourself.
Seriously. To me this means knowing what annoys me and what can push my buttons. It means pre-empting situations that could get out of control and then putting a stop to it before this happens. IT means listening to my body because it ALWAYS provides me with an indication of when I may or may not lose it.
Usually I start to breathe a bit faster and my hands start to get a bit sweaty. This is usually my cue to leave the room because when my body starts to speak to me with these signals then it means that I must leave the room immediately because crossing over is about 2 seconds away.
Getting to know myself means knowing when an argument or disagreement with my DH can and will go pear shaped. It meant having to teach myself to fight hard and fair without losing perspective. It means knowing when to walk away. Getting to know myself also meant having to identify what triggered my shouting behaviour and doing what I could to avoid them. I have a number of triggers but I will list three of the main ones:
Trigger 1 – having people take advantage of me. This is EASILY dealt with when I set boundaries.
Trigger 2 – being surrounded by untidiness and a disorderly environment. I am by no means a neat freak but my surroundings need to have a reasonable amount of order that I can easily maintain. This is very easily dealt with if I keep my house clean and maintain order on a regular basis.
Trigger 3 – Child2’s tantrums. This drives me NUTS and I simply can’t get used to them. In order to deal with this, I watch his signals and pre-empt and if possible I try to do what I have to do to PREVENT. If he goes into a full-blown tantrum, depending on the circumstances I do one of two things. I will either walk away or I will take him into his room and wrap him tightly into a blanket (similar to how you would swaddle a baby), put him into bed, walk away (without looking back) and close the door. HE usually manages to calm himself down and will come out when he’s ready – even though he takes his own sweet time doing this. My DH is very good at helping with this because sometimes I can’t manage it on my own – especially when the arms and legs are flailing about.
3. Find other ways to deal with your kids if and when they misbehave.
For me, there was a lot of trial and error involved here mainly because my kids are VERY different and also because they are in different stages of their lives. I do find it easier to manage Child1 if he misbehaves. I can just talk to him (softly, using specific words that invoke the conscience) or I can take away a privilege.
Sometimes I use THE LOOK. THE LOOK is AWESOME. It says EVERYTHING that you want to say without you actually saying anything and it works like a charm in public places. Usually when I give Child1 the look I see the panic in his eyes. He KNOWS that he has overstepped and stops the behaviour IMMEDIATELY.
With Child2 we do a form of timeout. I find that I need to go down to his level, make significant eye contact and speak VERY firmly. I need to use my body and he needs to see that he has made me cross. I use my eyes a lot and my hands and voice. I notice that Child2 likes sign language. When I ask him kindly and firmly to go to his room he ignores me. However, when I look at him (with THAT angry face and THOSE eyes – I suppose this is his idea of THE LOOK) and point towards his room then HE RUNS!
4. Look after yourself.
Make sure you get enough sleep. Exercise. Eat healthily. When I do all of these things then I feel more in control and this does make it easier to manage my emotions. Also, exercise is FANTASTIC for when you need to remove yourself from a situation. I have often walked out of my house and gone for a brisk walk around the block. OR a short run. This is an excellent way to calm down and find perspective. Also, when I am doing regular yoga then I am (mostly) in a permanent state of zen. IF yoga is not your thing then you can do anything that forces you to be still and breathe deeply. Even if it is just gentle stretching or any slow-moving exercise that forces you to use a lot of deep breaths.
5. In the absence of exercise or being able to run a mile, find something else to help you vent.
I sometimes go and hide in my bathroom. Or I go and sit in my car and scream and have a good cry. I know a lady who has a punching bag (like the ones that the boxers use) in her garage. She swears by it. You may even choose to blog about it. Be careful if you do this though as you may regret it the next day – rather wait 24 hours before pressing publish. I often find that the process of just writing it all down is enough. But seriously, there is no right or wrong here – just do what works for you.
6. Have an open mind and keep learning. Even if you have it under control.
Melody suggested a book called Screamfree Parenting which really helped her. I haven’t read it so can’t vouch for it yet. The point is I am still a work in progress where this is concerned and even though I have this under control it doesn’t mean that I am going just put it all into a box and move on. I am going to get this book because it is going to help me along on this journey and I might learn a whole lot more about getting better at this. Seriously. If you buy this book, please read it and blog about it? There are MANY people who could benefit from your insights.
7. IF you slip up, then take it in your stride and start again.
I haven’t slipped up for a long, long time but I am conscious about the fact that it could happen at any time if I’m not careful. Living life as a non-shouter means living in a state of awareness. It is MUCH easier said than done.
These are just some of the things that have worked for me on this particular journey and I have to say that there was LOTS of trial and error involved. I’m sure that there are loads more things that you can try to help you.
It really isn’t easy but it is so worth it and I would recommend to ANYONE to try to stop shouting. Start with one day. Then add another. Then add another. Before you know it, it will be part of who you are.
Seriously. You will NOT be sorry. And I am 100% sure that your partner and kids will thank you one day.