I was running a morning errand when I saw the car screaming in reverse down the driveway. I tapped my brakes not knowing if she saw me. She slammed on hers to avoid hitting me. I saw the 2nd grader in the back seat, her daughter. I could see the mom YELLING at her daughter. Hands were in motion, up in the air. Mom was flabbergasted over something. It was 8:05am and I knew that kids were considered tardy if they arrived after 8:10am and we live about 5 minutes from the school. It was easy to draw conclusions but I don’t know what was happening exactly in the car that followed me through the development and up the street a bit.
Maybe this was just one incident. One bad morning. The alarm clocks didn’t go off. They just got out of the bed on the wrong side. I don’t know. But I was quickly reminded of something I have been very conscious of. Yelling. Yelling at my children when we are running late. Yelling when I have asked them for the umpteenth time to stop fighting. Yelling when they just aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing, or vice-versa. I am very conscious of losing my cool as Mom. It can be so easy for me to do.
I knew I needed to make a change when I started to see my own children mimic my behaviour. When things weren’t going their way they were acting exasperated, yelling, slamming doors, not talking about their emotion but acting it out in a unhealthy fashion. It wasn’t a pretty reflection of what I pictured a loving family environment. However, I realized it was in fact a reflection of how they were learning to cope with stress. I knew in those moments that I needed to make a change in my own behaviour so they would grow to be emotionally strong boys in a very mixed up world.
I learned to talk through my stress with them when appropriate. I started getting ready to go anywhere 15 minutes earlier then I needed. I taught myself that if we are a little late “Oh Well!” it is not worth the kicking of butt to get out the door. We made a conscious effort to clean up every day after dinner, making a routine of putting things in their proper place. I really worked on being calm, cool and collected even when I just wanted to SCREAM! (Amazingly the more I practice being calm, cool and collected the less I want to scream.)
The beautiful thing: I have seen tremendous change in my 9 year old over the last six-months. He is more helpful getting out the door. He loves to smile and say “Here you go, Mom” when he has helped me find my misplaced keys. If I ask for help 99% of the time I get a “Sure, Mom!”. He understand that by helping he is adding to a happy family environment.
The joys of my life!My 7 year old is still not as emotionally mature but he loves it when I give him hugs when he has done the right thing. If I say, “Thank you for getting in the car and getting your seat belt on; here is your water bottle for practice.”, he beams. He knows he has done the right thing by moving towards the car. That has such a greater impact then yelling at him because he forgot to grab his water-bottle sitting on the kitchen counter. I can tell too that he made a mental note, “Next time grab water bottle like Mom asked me to do”.
As I saw the young mom in my rear view mirror I prayed a quick prayer. I prayed that this young girl gets over being yelled at so early in the morning. I prayed that Mom learns the lesson it took me some time to figure out myself. I made a mental note to think about this girl and her single mom and how I can help them in the future.
How about you? How do you handle stress with your kids? In front of your kids? How are you teaching them to handle stress as they grow? We wear many hats as HH6s but the motherhood-hat is the most influential and important hats we have ever been gifted.
– Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com