Judging by statistics I read, spanking is still a problem. Yet, this doesn’t seem to be something the mothers I know personally do– none of them spank. (Yes, I live in a bubble, I guess!)
Time-out and the isolation of a child due to challenging behavior, whilst a problem in the US (and confirmed by my international readers that this really doesn’t come up in other countries), is again, not something the mothers I personally know seem to do. (Yes, again, I live in a bubble).
But yelling seems to be almost a commonality. And most of all, this seems to be something that occurs with even more frequency with children who are over the age of 7 rather than small children.
It is almost as if the lie of anger wins – you know, the lie in one’s head that says, “My goodness! They are seven years old! They KNOW better than that! They are just doing this to make me angry! They are trying to push my buttons!”
Anger looks at ONLY the negative, anger makes us feel as if we must “fix” this problem right away or our child will grow up to be this horrible human being, anger makes us feel as if the normal things that children do being children need to be squashed and stomped on instead of being calmly guided.
And underneath that anger, is our own needs. Our own very real fear. Our own very real fatigue and loneliness. Our own distraction with other things that really have nothing to do with our child.
From an attachment standpoint, yelling makes very little sense because we want to treat our children with dignity and we know children need our guidance. But trying to guide a child with yelling is a little like trying to drive a car by solely using the horn. Your guidance, your message will be lost in the delivery.
From a Waldorf perspective, yelling is not a tool to use for discipline. A small child lives in the will, the doing, and in the lower senses – and guess what? Hearing is not one of the lower four senses that make up the willing senses of the small child!
What can you do instead of yelling?
1. PLAN your day – children need time to let off steam, and children also need time to calm down. Limit how many places you are trying to get your children off to, because if Mommy is less stressed then everyone is happier! Children truly need less activities, more time at home, less lessons and classes and more time with family.
2. CALL IT QUITS – If it is close to bedtime and everyone is falling apart, sometimes all you can do is get through it and get everyone off to bed. Recognize the times when the lesson will be lost due to hunger, needing sleep, etc. Raising a child is not a “one-shot” deal – your child can still grow up to be a wonderful adult even if you don’t “hammer the point” over and over.
3. For the older children, be careful too not equate the 7-9 year old with a teenager in terms of reasoning skills! Here are some of my thoughts regarding talking to the seven and eight year old:http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/26/how-to-talk-to-your-seven-and-eight-year-old/
Make sure what you expect is actually developmentally appropriate.
4. WALK IT OFF – If you feel so angry that you are going to explode, go outside and calm down and then come back and guide. If you get angry again, go back outside. You can only effectively guide your child when you are calm.
5. STICK TO THE BOUNDARY – None of this is to say the boundary should not be kept. The boundary needs to be kept! The behavior must be guided, but CALMLY.
6. TRY LESS WORDS – If you talk, explain, re-hash, lecture, write the book down and leave it on their pillow, you are using too many words and the child is tuning you out! Less words! Control your verbal spillage!
7. MORE WORK– Yes, you will have to do chores with them when they are under the age of seven. Yes, when they ages seven through nine they will get distracted and will need verbal reminders. Yes, the effort is worth it, and knowing that training a child to do chores requires effort will hopefully help you not to yell so much about it!
8. BOUNDARIES ON FRIENDS – There should be no guilt in having “family-only” time during the week and week-ends. Simplifying makes life less stressful and less stressful means less yelling!
9. FILL YOUR OWN TANK – It is hard when you have babies and toddlers to get time to yourself, but involve Dad and family. Also catch those small moments. Catch a few minutes to read after your child goes to sleep. Sing while you do the dishes. Keep filling up your tank, so you can be calm and centered,
10. JUST BECAUSE YOUR CHILD IS HAVING A BAD DAY DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO! Your child will not remember ten years from now why you yelled at them; they will only remember how things felt generally and how you made them feel. If you can model being calm and controlled, think of what a powerful life lesson that could be for your child to see and learn from!
11. CONNECTION – keep connecting with this child; love this child. That is the most important key to discipline.
12. SOLVE THE PROBLEM – If your older child is always being noisy during a younger child’s naptime, and you yell, what could you do to solve the problem instead? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting something different to happen!
Don’t let the big lie of anger get you! You don’t have to yell. Model this calmness during the “breaking points” and your whole family will benefit! During this period of renewal between Easter and Ascension, commit to not yelling.