Screaming Banshees! 11


1. My baby, he is 18 months and I love him to pieces. He’s so darn cute he makes me say things like “darn cute”. I love his hair and I love his eyes and I love how he gives me great big squeeezzze hugs. I love how he says mama and daddy and broder or is that spider? Or wait, maybe badger? I love how he ‘counts down’ tee, twooo, ta…buuuuuuugghhhh[rocket launching-sound]. But, I really truly DISLIKE when he screams like a monkey-banshee and hits and pushes me (or anyone else within reach) when he wants something or doesn’t want something or when he doesn’t know if he wants something or not. Yes, every now and then he’ll be all sophisticated and sign “more” or “all done” or even point to what he wants. But the past few days it’s just been screaming and I really can’t stand it. Where are the earplugs?

2. 4-year-old Son-“really, it’s going to be ok if I walk into the bathroom or any other room where you can’t see me anymore when we are at someone else’s house. No need to burst into a ear-piercing obnoxious ridiculous siren whenever you’re not”

3. I love my husband and I am thankful for the greatest gift he could ever give me-motherhood. Yet, I have to say that being a mom isn’t always so easy. It’s not because it requires intense hard labor (er, well aside from the birth part) all day long. It’s because of the internal-internal and constant dying-to-self-battle that goes between me and the kids daily that makes it so darn hard sometimes a lot most of the time. It’s a battle against the wills, and usually I don’t win. (see extendend whine on this below)

It’s good to do a reality check in our ‘perfect’ lives. Get the code for the picture here and link back here if you want to join Whiney Wednesday in your blog. Then leave a comment here (even if you don’t have a blog) or on the Erika Marie/simplemama facebook page if that’s easier.

Welcome to the Extended Whine (Warning: This is a doozy so don’t feel bad if you can’t sit here and read the whole thing. I won’t hold it against you.)

Ok, as I said, I love my kids and wouldn’t trade them or return them, well at least not yet, but well they can really get on my nerves sometimes. The ear-piercing cries, the incessant whining (I know that’s exactly what I’m doing now shhh), the arguing, the disobedience, why don’t they just do what I want them to do? Some days I can handle it all right, but honestly most days I don’t. On many occasions throughout a day, somebody will do something they know not to and after a while my insides are on fire and my blood boils over and a tight fist lodges itself in my chest and my head gets all tight and my eyes bug out; it’s not a pretty sight. I try to be calm but usually that gets ignored. I sometimes wonder if my kids prefer my yelling voice over the normal nice mama voice as it seems they only listen when my voice goes up to the top of the scale instead of hanging out nicely in the middle. Yelling makes my head hurt so I really try to avoid it. Plus I don’t really want my kids to only do things when I yell and scream at them. And I know too much yelling can be just as emotionally detrimental to them as spanking. I’d like to be able to talk to them respectfully, “Pardon me, would you please pass the Grey Poupon?” Instead of, “Give me the yellow stuff in that jar your eyes!”

Anyway, so my daughter seems to handle my voice pitch swings pretty well but my 4 year old can’t stand it. Oh 4 year old, how I love thee. If I raise my voice the slightest degree, he gets all upset and his eyebrows furrow up over his eyes and his lips pucker out and he’s just not happy. He has quite the little temper and gets upset about the littlest things and I feel like I have to step on eggshells with him a lot. He’s my first boy and I really just don’t get him and often feel like he just doesn’t get me.

So I went to the library the other day and this book caught my eye: They Just Don’t Get It!: Changing Resistance Into Understanding. It was a super fast read with cartoons so I really enjoyed it. It was kind of like How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. I think these types of books ‘work’ better for me and my kids because it forces me to change instead of me trying to force them to change or behave the way the ‘experts’ say they will if I only do the step-by-step directions in their book.

I also borrowed Anger Management For Dummies and am slowly working my way through that. My husband laughed when he saw it on my desk. Don’t worry, I’m not one who is prone to episodes of rage and I wouldn’t classify myself as an angry person. And I would absolutely never allow my anger to drive me to abusive behavior. That said, I do feel irritated and annoyed more than once a week day. I live my day just trying to survive. But really, tell me have you ever met a mother who isn’t at least slightly irritated most of the time?

Ok so to end my babble and come to a point. (if there’s anyone still reading) This is from the They just don’t get it! book:

“Turning resistance into understanding is about advancing our current behaviors…For us to be successful as individuals, we too must evolve and mature. To improve communications and to support efforts for positive…change, our inner actions need to shift. To be effective…we need to be self-evaluative….Adopting a new behavior does not necessarily mean throwing out existing behavior and replacing it with a new one, but rather advancing from an inefffective behavioral position…to one that is more effective…”

These are the main “Get it” keys I learned that I hope will help me deal with my son and others better: (Disclaimer to myself: These tips will only help if I am in a good enough mood so remember to take care of yourself, eat right, and get enough sleep…and drink from the endless ocean of God’s graces every now and then too)

1. Take Responsibility. (Don’t waste time blaming myself or him when things aren’t working. I need to take ownership and not wallow in self-pity but decide how I can set a better example by not getting all mad and frustrated about little things or when my son does not listen to me or do what I tell him.)

2. Practice Humility (look at the huge 2×4 wedged into my own eye first before looking only at my son’s faults. Instead of trying to be all self-righteous, try and ask questions to figure out where the communication block is. I tend to want to blame my children and husband for everything that is wrong with everything before looking into my own self first. Then I get angry at them when really deep down it is about me needing to ‘let go’ and stop trying to control everything the way I think it should be. When all’s said and done, I bet 99.9% of the reason I get annoyed with my kids is because they are doing something contrary to what I would like them to do. Granted, many times it doesn’t really matter if they want to do what I’m telling them or not, they just have to obey. (holding hands while crossing the street). But, the part that makes my blood boil is the fact that I’m not in total control. If I can just breath and stop trying so hard, they might stop resisting so hard too. Maybe?)

3. Ask don’t tell. (Everyone hates being told what to do so ask questions that might get them to decide what you want them to do on their own first. Like, “Son, what will happen if you run out into the street without me and a car comes?….And do you think that would feel good?…Then what should you do right now?” I also like If-then questions. “If you hit your brother, will he learn to hit you back?”)

4. Remain Open. Instead of Judging/Criticizing be Supporting. (instead of assuming negative intentions or motives, “suspend judgment and listen without bias”. Maybe my son was trying to help his baby brother get down the stairs safely and really didn’t mean to make him fall down and get hurt. Maybe…

5. Believe they CAN. (help them “abandon doubt and negative language and replace them with the power of positive expectations”. “Son, you CAN play here by yourself or with your friends over there without crying or being sad and mad while mommy stays over here and prays the Rosary. Really, you CAN!” And to myself: “Yes, you CAN talk to you son about not yelling and screaming at his brother without yelling and screaming at him.”

Well I’m tired of typing and you’re tired of reading so that’s it for now. Here’s to a successful non-angry GOOD day.

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11 thoughts on “Screaming Banshees!

  • Erika Marie Post author

    Oh ha! I didn’t notice that I wrote it that way. Son who is 4 years old is what I was going for. That wouldn’t make sense even if I was trying to hint at something…which I’m not. 🙂

  • Danielle

    I am smiling because I’m finding that the craziness I feel is shared by so many others! I liked the suggestions – thank you! And I know that the L&L got a major “slam” on Mary’s blog, but I have to say, much of what I just read sounds very similar; especially the part about changing yourself. Vance and I realized we had been screaming (raised voices) so much that we decided to “give it up” for Lent. How sad is that?! Anyway… as we implement much of the L&L (which first and foremost advocates NO yelling at kids), and stay calm and collected during discipline, the kids have stopped screaming (as much!) too. So I am a believer (even though I don’t always practice what I preach… especially during that “time” of the month) that the less I raise my voice, the less they scream 🙂 Good luck and thanks for sharing your research!

  • Erika Marie Post author

    Thanks Danielle, I’m glad others can relate but I also hope others can have the support and help they need like I am thankful for so the craziness doesn’t take over. I’m so glad to hear that you and V found something that has worked well for you and your family. I did read some L&L material and a book of theirs and found that it just didn’t fit with me and I had to try too hard to make it work. I’ve really enjoyed the How to Talk and Gentle Discipline books but honestly I don’t follow any particular ‘method’ to the T. What a good idea about giving up the screaming/yelling. I guess I still have 2 more weeks, it’s not too late to add this ‘sacrifice’ right?

  • Erika Marie Post author

    Danielle, have you noticed any difference in your kids behavior since the no-screaming was adopted? For me, it seems my son who is 4 listens to m (or doesn’t in his case) the same no matter if whisper or use a megaphone.

  • Danielle

    I actually have noticed a big difference in their behavior, but it’s hard to pinpoint if it precisely because of the lowered voices or if it is the complete overhaul we implemented 🙂 The past 2 days have been really difficult and I KNOW it is primarily because of ME! It’s my bad time of the month, Vance has been out of town all week, I’m exhausted, and as a result, I’ve reverted back to my old methods of losing my patience and letting it show! And the kids’ behavior has been much worse – no listening, arguing with each other, etc. So I don’t think that actually answered your question 🙂 But yes, their behavior has improved significantly, but I honestly think it hinges on me being consistent with the way that I interact with them! One thing I have found that helps with the “listening” (or rather lack thereof!) when I’m trying to get them to do something is changing what I say to tell them what I’m going to do instead of telling them what to do. For instance, last night, we were invited over to a friend’s for cake after the Cat Chat concert at SEAS. I honestly told them to come upstairs to go home at least 10 times and was getting very agitated and frustrated. Finally, I just said “My car is leaving in 30 seconds.” Nothing else. Within a few seconds, they were both running up the stairs. Doesn’t work for everything, but it helps occasionally, which is worth it 🙂 Hang in there!

  • Danielle

    PS… I ordered the “How to Talk so Your Kids Will Listen…” book, along with a few other suggested reads from all of the commenters 🙂

  • Erika Marie Post author

    Oh good, you’ll have to let us know how you like it–good or bad 🙂
    I like the telling them what I’m doing thing too, it seems to put them in a spot where they have to make a decision their own which they seem to like better than being told what to do. It’s ‘funny’ though because in the past I had told Nicholas that I was leaving and would start walking off slowly without him and he’ panic and think I was really going to just leave without him. I wonder if that is why he is now really afraid of that. It’s a mystery that I hope will just resolve itself.
    p.s-when did CatChat end? We left early around 7:45 because I had to get James and my head was pouding and the music and noise wasn’t helping any and I hate keeping them up too late when we have to get up early the next day. How late do your kids usually go to bed on a school night?

  • Danielle

    It was close to 8:30 before it was over. We didn’t get home until 9 pm! Sadly, my kids aren’t usually in bed until 9 pm anyway. I shoot for 8:30, but it doesn’t always happen. But they both still nap in the afternoon too 🙂 I know I need to start making adjustments in anticipation of 1st grade next year! I am NOT a morning person at all!