When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. -Paulo Coelho
If this isn't your first attempt to stop yelling, do not be disheartened. If you've tried and failed before, there is still hope. You can change.
For the first month of our Yell-Free Year Challenge, I would like for you to work on speaking to yourself in a positive voice. Turn off your inner critical voices. For tips on how to silence your inner critic, go here. I want you to say to yourself several times daily - out loud, in the mirror, when you're driving, when you wake up, before bed - "I am capable of change." Be still and meditate on this statement at least once a day, every day, until you feel it's positive impact. This is how you change neural pathways - repetition. For more on brain plasticity, read this.
Take this challenge in small bites. It's overwhelming to think of not yelling for a whole year! You don't have to conquer the whole year today. You just have to conquer today. It may be cliche to say "one day at a time" but really that's all we can do anyway. Just focus on today. We'll focus on tomorrow when it gets here.
The second thing we're going to do to kick off this challenge is to start a journal, and the first thing we are going to record is our observations about our triggers. Each time you feel yourself getting angry and wanting to yell, record in your journal what was happening and what events surrounded this incident that may have contributed to your frustration. Were you sleep deprived? Overwhelmed with your to-do list? Having expectations that were too high? Jot down your feelings as soon as you can and later, when you are alone, think about why this triggers you. When we become aware of our triggers and patterns, we can take steps to prevent our anger from boiling up in the first place.
MONTH ONE STEPS:
1. Silence your inner critic and speak to yourself in a positive voice. When your inner critic tells you that you can't do this, tell it to "STOP!" Repeat "I am capable of change" to silence your inner critic and several times throughout the day. Meditate on that statement.
2. Journal your triggers. Look for patterns and think about why these are triggers for you. Here is an article on deactivating anger triggers.
3. Lastly, remember to take it one day at time and celebrate your successes! Come and celebrate with us in the support group here.
Try this exercise: Go to your mirror, preferably when you actually are angry and feel like yelling (this is a good time to take a time out and go to your bathroom anyway) and yell into the mirror just like you would yell at your child. Notice your facial expression, your tone, your body language. Is that the parent you want your child to remember? Is that the face of the mom or dad you want to be? Imagine being a small child on the receiving end. (You may need to yell into the mirror without letting sound actually come out to keep from scaring small children. You will still get to see what you look like when you're yelling.) The next time you feel like yelling at your child, remember the mirror.
We will be discussing Dr. Laura's book Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting throughout the year, so if you'd like to participate in those discussions, you can pick up that book at Amazon here.
If you're new to Positive Parenting, we also recommend getting The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting, and if you're looking for more concrete examples, Positive Parenting in Action provides you with over 40 scenarios and shows you how to handle them positively and peacefully.
We have started a private support group for parents on Facebook. Please be advised that all spammers will be deleted from the group. We've already had quite an issue with that.
Finally, Laura and I put a lot of time and effort into coordinating all of this. If you'd like to support Positive-parents.org, you may make a donation through the donate button below. All donations are greatly appreciated.