Can you hear me now?

My kids are driving me bonkers lately… like really pushing their limits. And I’m realizing that no matter how loudly I yell, it doesn’t make them fall in line so I might as well just stop with the yelling (or at least tone it down because we all know the neighbors already get an earful – we have boys, therefore we are loud).

I texted Sandy tonight before a Google Plus meeting we were set to have and said the following: “If I’m not on the chat it’s quite possibly because I’ve murdered my kids and I’m on the run.”

Please note: I would NEVER murder my children, it was a JOKE, please do not call child protective services on me. I blog, I text, I joke – this is how I vent.

But clearly, something needs to change with both them and me. Two years into this single-parenting on the weeknights thing and I think we’re all a little sick of it. They are sick of getting ganged up on by one tired, sometimes at-her-wits-end parent and I’m very sick of dealing with the bedtime rigamarole and toy clean up. Last night Liam was upset with me during our clean up time because he had been put in timeout and lost the Wii for being mean to his brother and he told me that he wanted to not like me so much that I would die (clearly he was trying to say the most hurtful thing he could think of because I had taken away Wii privileges). I told him that what he said was hurtful but that we would talk about it when he was less upset. Later he tearfully apologized when I talked to him about it and I explained how terrible it was to say that he wished someone was dead and asked if he would be sad if I was gone forever (i.e., dead from his not liking me so much). At five-and-a-half my son has learned that words can be powerful and very hurtful tools and at nearly 34 I’m forgetting that words need only be whispered to be heard. We both need to learn a lesson (or five) in how to use our words.

My kids act crazy mostly because they are kids, and boy kids at that, but also because I react passionately to what they are doing wrong and despite the mis-intent, they are trying to get my attention and push my buttons. A friend told me she had been trying to praise her kids wildly for the inane things they were doing right, to focus on the positive, even if it was something as simple as walking down the hallway to their room. And she said it was crazy how wonderfully they were behaving and reacting to that feedback, despite how silly she felt at dishing it out. So here and now, I’m telling you that I’m going to try this wholeheartedly – going to commit to being that saccharine-voiced mom who praises her kids for every little thing and see how that works for me. [Can anyone get my kids to commit to staying in their room quietly at bedtime? And also not strangling, tackling and hitting each other? Then we’d have a good thing going.]

Because I love my kids more than anything in the world but I’d really like to like them all the time, too. And I’m sure they feel the same way about me.

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8 responses to “Can you hear me now?

  1. D and will fought constantly at bedtime for awhile. To the point that i had D lock his door so Will couldn’t get in. It only stayed that way until they were asleep. Within a few weeks the cycle was broken and bedtome has resumed to quiet again. And P.S. i tried the uber praise bit. It backfired in a very alarming way. So when they fight, I let them and when they come to me I just stare at them until their voices soften and try to regroup.

    • I do tell Liam that he gets once chance to restate something he has said in anger, to give him a chance to get control of his feelings. Sometimes it works and sometimes he’s just too angry so then he gets to take a breather (a.k.a., timeout) to regroup. Boys.

  2. Ooh, I needed this today 😉 Because I’ve been struggling on finding ANYthing positive to pay attention to and have crumbled in the past week into the screaming loon whose children just stare at her and laugh … I really appreciate “words need only be whispered to be heard” – maybe I can do it in that evil whisper that would instill fear into their souls 😉

    • The laughing at me when I am so upset with them totally gets me and makes me even more irate! I need to perfect my evil whisper because I so want them to just LISTEN!

  3. I yell…..a lot! I ignore, I praise appropriate behaviour, I use all the strategies (I’m a teacher, I have a lot of them) and I still go back to yelling.
    My best strategy is a “Happy Chart”. With Harrison’s autism, the words don’t always sink in. I didn’t want a reward chart with stars as I wanted to show disapproval as well and also be able to remove the ‘prize’ and have my kids behave just to make people happy: hence the Happy Chart!
    It’s a laminated sheet with 8 spaces on it and when they make me happy I velcro a Happy Face on and if they make me sad they get a Sad Face. When they get 8 Happy Faces they put a coin in a pot and when it’s full we are taking them out for dinner to their favourite restaurant! When I use it a lot it works well. Happy face for eating breakfast, another for putting their bowl in the sink, the next for dressing straight away etc. lots of praise goes with it but the visual helps and we talk about making people happy and sad.
    All the best x x x

    • That’s a great idea for the happy chart! Jack’s daycare does thumb’s up = helpful and thumb’s down = hurtful for imagery and wording to go with those behavior reinforcements so we try working on that at home, too.

  4. I’m with you! Only I’m exhausted and quite often dry heaving at bedtime. I’m cranky and short, and I need to remember that this time with them is so fleeting…and my words can drain their “love bank.” Someone once told me that you have to say 15 nice things to them to fill their “love bank” and one lousy thing to them to drain it all. I HATE knowing that my words make them run on empty.

    That being said, I need to be more proactive in controlling their need for physicality. I need to get them more physical with themselves (running and jumping, etc) instead of each other. After all, boys will be boys, right? THEN I’m hoping that I will be more mother and less referee!

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