Shhhh. I have a little secret (two, actually). Well, it's not much of a secret to my upstairs and downstairs neighbors. Fortunately, they are also parents of small children, and quite understanding. It is kind of an embarrassing secret since I am such a big proponent of positive parenting.
You've figured out by now that my secret is yelling. (Well, you probably knew that as soon as you read the title.) But I have another secret. It's the secret way I remember to stop yelling. (Note: this post contains affiliate links.)
The boys are very high energy (nothing wrong with that), easily distracted (as are all kids), and also fight a lot (like most siblings). In short, they frequently drive me bananas. Oh we have "family kindness tokens" and practice daily gratitude, and I prep myself for the after school crazies, but we all have our particular weaknesses.
I do not want to yell. I hate yelling. It's also a completely ineffective way of dealing with children. Now, this is not a post about alternative discipline techniques. Yelling is not discipline. Yelling is just me demonstrating my lack of communication skills and my failure to take a moment to breathe and take stock of the situation. (In any case, I'm more a proponent of connecting and forming a relationship with my kids than punitive punishment and reward discipline systems.)
I've learned a lot about how to communicate with the kids, especially from the books How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk and Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, so it's not as if I don't have strategies.
The thing is. When I am in the thick of things, I forget.
I forget not to yell. And then I beat myself up for my failure. (Never a good thing.)
I know that sounds lame. I've tried visual reminders around the apartment, but after a day or so, they just became part of the scenery.
However, one trick I started a few weeks ago has been working. Not that life is perfect now, but I have noticed a pretty significant improvement in how I handle the after school chaos.
I put a reminder on my phone. Yep. Every day, right before I pick up the boys, I hear a little chime, or feel a vibration in my pocket. There's something about the physical action I have to take to pull out the phone, and click "dismiss" (or snooze, if I feel a particularly tough afternoon coming on) that makes the reminder stick in a way all those passive reminders didn't.
Just a little nudge to be a calmer person.
I was telling a friend of mine (actually we were having a good laugh about it) about my phone reminder and she told me she has a small object she keeps in her shoe! Every time she stomps her foot when she is upset, she feels a pinch of pain to help stop her in her tracks. Literally!
So, after that I felt quite normal with my phone reminder. Ha!