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Losing Patience and Yelling
I am in my 2nd trimester and I have a 2 1/2 half year old aswell. I am losing it, it's very unlike me to yell or raise my voice. I pride myself on being CALM. Between my husband and my son I am losing it DAILY. My husband and I are at each others throats all the time. The little time I see him when he's not working we are fighting. I have started therapy for myself but my husband won't go. I have lots of reservations about the second child as my husband doesn't do a heck of alot around the house. And I barely can go to the bathroom by myself, alone time is a joke. I know i'm not alone out there, but does any one have words of wisdom for me. THX ANON
Things that have helped so far:
- letting myself take a break (even if that means letting things go around the house or letting my husband take care of our 2-year old in not exactly the way I would like him to).
- noticing the connection between my moods/anger/sleep/eating/drinking. It hasn't helped everything, but now when I start to feel angry I also ask myself if I've taken time to eat and drink.
- giving myself ''time-outs'' to think about what's really making me angry. Sometimes I start reciting in my head the ''I statement'' formulas they teach in communication classes. Sometimes, by the time I've formulated an I-statement, I'm not as angry - at least for a few minutes!
These things all seem to work best with the anger that I direct at my husband. I don't know what to do when I've had it with the 2-year old. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I work almost full-time, so my time with her is limited. That gives me a break from her, but then I also add guilt to my anger because I'm not treasuring every minute with her.
hope something in here helps for you! I just keep reminding myself that I wasn't like this before so this can't go on forever! (right??) - hot-headed mama
My husband and I have been together almost 6 years, and our son
is almost 4. We also have another baby on the way. Absolutely
everyone I know would characterize my husband as the best
father in the world, and he is -- very hands on, funny,
attentive, silly, and loving. But lately, maybe due to some
work stress, I've noticed him yelling a lot more. He seems to
fly off and raise his voice much more easily than he used to,
often several times a day. I've mentioned it a few times over
the past couple of weeks, both because I think it sets a bad
example and because our son seems to be becoming immune to it,
which I find disturbing. I'm certainly not perfect, but I
really try not to yell. Any advice? By the way, I believe
there to be zero likelihood of physical manifestations of this
frustration, as there has never been even a hint of violence in
prefer a quieter response
My husband is good with our 11-month old when he plays with him or basically whenever our son is in a good mood. But when our baby is fussy, cries or shrieks, my husband is very impatient. Our baby's shriek is piercing and my husband gets very irritated when he hears it. I have seen him yell in a very deep, loud voice at our child to stop it. Our baby then cries and is frightened. It has reduced me to tears as well. I am so disturbed by this, and although we have discussed it, my husband just claims to be irritated and have no patience for the shrieking. I don't know what to do because I've stayed home for a year as the primary caretaker (I love caring for our son!) but am scheduled to return to work in 2 days -- we need my income to afford our house. It's only part-time, but my husband will be picking him up from daycare 3 days a week. I'm horrified at the prospect of our wonderful, sensitive child having his spirit broken by my husband's yelling. What can I do?? I've even considered divorce (although I do love my husband) but I'm not totally convinced that that's the best thing for our family either. Can anyone offer any constructive solutions? I would do anything to resolve this and feel better about my husband's interactions with our son. Thank you. distraught parent
There are some good anger management classes for men who are not wife-beaters (check the index), and there are some good books (you might want to look at The Dance of Anger). Most importantly, in my opinion, if your husband does not show any inclination of changing, give him an ultimatum and stick to it. I give this last piece of advice, seeing the insidious way my husband's outbursts have affected my kids (they love their Dad dearly, but can sense in an instant when he is getting frustrated and act either fearfully or try to mollify him -- both bad reactions), and wishing that I had clearly and unequivocally stated that his behavior was inappropriate and if he didn't work to change it, I would divorce him. I wish you luck. Anon
They have classes and practice groups in the bay area. There will be an introduction to NVC for Parents on Wednesday, April 9th from 7:30 to 9pm at Epworth United Methodist Church. call 654-5260 for more info. Susan Empathetically Yours
My guess is that if he is okay with it there is little hope he will change. On the other hand if he feels bad about it then it is possible that he can use this as a opportunity to nip this in the bud before it 1) escalates into something worse or 2) happens more often as your child goes through the irritating and patience stretching developmental stages that define childhood. (In other words - if your husband finds your child irritating now, wait until he is 2 or 3 years old and can shriek at the same time he is endangering himself and wrecking your stuff! Such joy.)
So, let's look at both possibilities: 1) He feels okay about the yelling and does not intend to change. I seriously doubt that your child's spirit will be crushed by a loud gruff voice. Bruised maybe, but ''broken'' is a bit melodramatic. There are lots of loud, gruff people in the world and at some point your little darling will encounter them. He'll survive. So, you have to ask yourself how it makes you feel. If this behavior makes you unhappy (as you have said) and your husband is not willing to at least try to change it then I think you need to question his commitment to the relationship and deal with this as a marital issue and not a parenting issue. That doesn't necessarily mean you should leave him but he needs to know what you are and aren't willing to put up with.
2) He feels bad about the yelling or concerned that it might lead to worse and would like to change his behavior. Now you can help him to deal with this as a parenting issue. I don't have a magic pill for him to take but there are many avenues for trying to improve one's parenting skills. There are books, classes, counselors, etc. A person should pick the type of thing that works for them personally. This type of learning can be a great source of personal growth.
My approach on this is to try to think of it as though my kids are giving me an opportunity for self-improvement. Its not easy and it is a constant work in progress but fortunately I have a very supportive spouse.
Finally, keep in mind that you are going through a huge and emotional transition right now as you return to work. Its natural that you are feeling especially protective but know that this is the first of many steps you will take in 'letting' go and trusting others with your child. This is very hard emotionally and you should demand support (i.e. love and respect for your wishes and concerns) from your husband during this time. take care
I know a thing or two about just how horrible this kind of abuse can be because my sisters and I grew up being terrorized by our father who used screaming and yelling as a daily parenting technique. We often wished he'd hit us so that we could get some help. He never touched us so we didn't qualify as abused.
Look at the long years in front of you and your baby. Do you want them filled with pain and fear? You're right to look for a solution now. Hopefully all he needs is counseling. A little father-training may fix everything.
Remember, if a stranger in a supermarket yelled at your child how would you respond? You'd get your baby away! That's how you should respond to your husband. You'll be glad you're dealing with this now and not in 10 years. anon
It is a constant practice to change yelling behavior. If you can get some support from your partner or a therapist that helps too. Bottom line: You have built up energy in your body. If you find positive ways to release it when you are with your kids then you can still be frustrated, but they won't have a negative, scarry, or confusing experience.
best of luck and keep trying every moment. Your kids and YOU deserve it! Jennifer
One caveat: I am talking about short yelling that occurs once in a while, not regular, abusive, insulting, degrading nasty stuff as is described in one of these other discussions. If you are being abusive get help.
One other caveat: There are points in child development where forms of deafness develop that require addressing the child in a VERY LOUD VOICE indeed. Their ear canals get clogged up by growth hormones or something.
A few things I can suggest:
1. Watch and see what triggers your yelling. Keep a log of time of day, what happened right before, and how you were feeling. It's also very important to look at what needs of yours are not being met. I know when I yell it's often that I'm frustrated about something other than what my child has just done or said.And other times it's that I'm tired or just feeling unsure of what to do.
2. A very good book is "When Anger Hurts Your Kids" by Matt McKay. It helps you understand more about the consequences of yelling a lot and also helps you see how your child's behavior may be "normal for her temperament and age"
3. There are many good anger management classes. Kaiser does a good one. I would also like to invite you to attend the free classes that I teach...they start September.6th at Kaiser in Richmond. They will be on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30PM. There are many parents who are struggling to find ways to get their children to do what they want them to do without yelling or hitting. Understanding your temperament and yours child's may be an important part of your wish to change. Unlike some parents, you already have made the important step of knowing that you want to do something different. Good luck.
My approach has been to try to identify what were the circumstances when I would loose patience, in my case was when I felt rushed, so I tried to allow more time than I needed for anything I did which involved my child also - well, sometime I didn't have much of a choice being a sigle mom, but that's another story. Any time I could, I tagged on those 5-10 extra minutes in the planning which helped a lot.
The other thing I did was to learn to recognize when I was on the verge of yelling and remember how I felt when I was a child. That helped a lot too.
Lastly I tried to see to identify areas in my life from which frustration was spilling in my impatience with my kid and make whatever change I could.
Did that stop my yelling completely? No, it didn't. Did I yell less? Yes, definetely - a lot less-, and my easiness increased as I got better at recognizing 'yelling moments' and plan to avoid them and my kid's age increased.
How often do you yell? Once in a while or several times a day? If it's only occasionally, give yourself a little room to be human and don't feel horribly guilty. Recognize we all have room to grow as parents and humans. If it's more often, get into therapy as soon as possible. There are reasons that this happens, and you don't have to blame yourself, but need to find out why. There are lots of good therapists out there who can really help you with this.
Do you apologize to your kids after you yell? It can mend the relationship. Sometimes I don't think it's the occasional loss of control on the part of the parent that's the problem, it's the refusal to acknowledge it. I think children really appreciate when adults take the time to apologize. It helps all of us realize that we are not perfect. My children, even from a young age, can help identify what goes wrong and have ideas about how to do things differently.
Watch how your kids behave. Do they seem frightened? Or are they basically ok? My younger daughter has a much higher tolerance for yelling than my older one. Consequently, I learned more self-control parenting my older daughter because she broke down so completely every time I yelled. Different temperaments really react differently to the same situation.
When do you yell? When you're alone with them at the end of the long day? I always have more control with other people around, so maybe trying to build more people into the tough times might help, or somehow changing the situations in which you are likely to yell.
The most important thing is realizing that you don't want to reproduce those patterns--and you don't have to. It may be hard, but you can get it under control. What helped for me the most was realizing how depressed I was, and that this was a "real" ailment, not just a self-control issue. It took several months in therapy and nudging from some close friends and family for me to realize that I had a problem. I'm taking medication now, and I have so much more patience and am so grateful to the people who helped me get where I am now. It's no longer a matter of trying to hold it together when I'm at the breaking point, it's not getting to that point as often. And when you start to get things more under control, hopefully your family can really be there to support you in the changes you are making. It definitely took my husband a while to come around to that point...I had hurt him so much by my irritability...but now he really listens when I say that I need help and that I'm approaching the breaking point.
Good luck. The most important part is that YOU don't want to be that way.
The first step is easier. There are a lot of good books on raising children--I don't need to recommend titles; go to the library or bookstore and look for what "speaks" to you. There are also classes, which I personally got more out of; call Bananas (try the Health & Development "warm line", 658-6046); also Rona Renner teaches parenting classes through Kaiser Richmond.
The second step is harder because you have to be conscious of how situations develop that lead to you yelling. It means paying attention to what you and the children and everyone else is doing and thinking about what isn't working well. Then you have to choose a new way of responding and see how that changes the situation. This can be very uncomfortable and also unsuccessful at first. You have to believe in your ability to make positive changes and persist. It's helpful to have someone to support and advise you as you do this because it's easy to get discouraged and lose heart even as you are doing all the right things.
Finally, don't be hard on yourself. You sound like a loving and responsive parent who wants to parent well. I think anyone would be challenged by having two children under age three! Louise
Here are some initial suggestions/tools:
1. When you find yourself being reactive to a scenario in which you feel helpless -- you and your partner probably need to devise a plan so you can move to a proactive position (e.g. toddler complains, whines, cries, wanting to watch more movies/videos than you think are appropriate - come up with a plan/rule and explain it - "1 movie a week, let's put stickers on the calendar on the movie days").
2. Let go of "how things should go" in a day. Rather than more control, sometimes with children or babies we need to let go of control. In fact it can be the need or urge to control that gets in the way and leads to the anger. (of course this does not apply to issues of child safety)
3. Be patient with yourself and be sure you are getting sleep - nap whenever you can.
4. When you do lose your temper and find yourself yelling - don't beat yourself up - you are after all a human being too. More importantly, in fact essential, is to repair the incident with your kid(s). Apologize, and explain to them you don't think it is OK to yell etc. (whatever explanation and apology works for you). But it is necessary to repair and reconnect after a rupture, not just let it ride.
5. Talk to other parents or find a support group (see NPN etc), you are sure to find yourself with some company and maybe some good suggestions.
Good luck to you. Pamela
I have a very active 4 yr old and can handle things well when I'm not sleep deprived or under a lot of other stress. When I do lose it, I hate myself for it. What's worse is now that she's older I know she remembers each incident and she even tells me she doesn't like it when I'm mad or yell at her. This absolutely crushes me. I have apologized each time I've lost it, but realize my outbursts must be damaging.
I'm curious to hear from other mothers or fathers who have undergone some kind of anger management training either through parenting classes or individual therapy. What I want to know is can one really change. I've been harboring these horrible feelings that it is hopeless and my behavior will eventually alienate my daughter from me.
Not that I'm making excuses for my behavior, but I think there is somewhat of a code of silence amongst moms that leaves many women feeling like everyone else is handling the stresses and strains of family life better than they are. I was quite surprised and somewhat relieved when one of my mother's group meetings evolved into our sharing our worst mothering moments: the harder than necessary arm squeeze, the not so gentle toss into bed, the involuntary hand slap, and the extremely age inappropriate choice of words. What a catharsis.
Parental Stress Services is a wonderful non-profit organization that can help you. Their hot line phone # is (510) 893-9230. You can be as anonymous as you like. No judgements are made. They have all kinds of resources to hook you up with if you want; parenting classes, lists of helpful books to read, anger management classes, counseling respite care, etc. At the very least call them and talk to a non-judgemental, caring, and trained individual that will LISTEN to you.
The first step in breaking the cycle is recognizing it, now go to step #2 and call Parental Stress Services. Good Luck to you and your children.
I also asked for a referral to counseling and thankfully my insurance covers 20 visits (though with a $20 co-pay each time). I am working with someone who recommended Dr Weisinger's Anger Work-out Book, which is kind of dated and dorky but offers some useful advice. The counselor has given me one piece of advice I'm already using: Lower the threshold of acceptability. When my kid does something unacceptable, I used to say, three more times and you get a timeout (or whatever consequence is appropriate for the misbehavior). Doc said, she does it once, give her a warning and when she does it again, she gets a timeout. I started this new plan a week ago and it's hard for both of us to adjust to, 'cause I have to be consistent and tough, and she's still used to having four chances to misbehave, but it really helps keep me from getting to the boiling point. I have also monitored when my misbehavior happens, and realized that it's almost always when I'm tired and/or hungry (duh!). So, I'm snacking when she does, moving up bedtime a little each day, and really managing our time and activities so that we don't get caught in the downward spiral at the end of the day. I'm trying hard to give myself the time-out, and also to let my kid know when I'm getting close to losing it. She's old enough that I can let her know when I'm especially tired or cranky and she'll generally work with me to get through our hardest tasks (e.g. teeth!) and occupy herself. I am trying to be creative and easier on myself, too, with approaches like "5 extra minutes of video before bed and I'll brush our teeth on the couch!" even though I'm pretty consistent about limiting TV time.
I'm a solo parent, so I don't have a partner to take over when I'm at the breaking point, but I do occasionally ask friends and neighbors to help me out, even if it's coming over for a few minutes to get the PJs on or the teeth brushed! I've also deliberately scheduled more "off-duty" times for myself and more company for my daughter by having a weekly childcare exchange with friends, and when people offer to babysit for free, I take them up on it enthusiastically (with full-time childcare and a mortgage on a single income, paid babysitting is a very occasional luxury!). Best of luck to you and I admire you for asking for help.
I'm not a therapist but what the hell, I'll give you my two cents based on my experience. You didn't say much about your situation (i.e. if you are working, if your spouse is helpful, etc) but I think there must be some factors that you could adjust to reduce your stress. Because let's face it kids that age are tough but they don't ordinarily do anything that can be helped by yelling and screaming so I guess you are stressed by all the other things that are pressing on you. I find that I start to lose my patience with my kids if I am thinking I'm going to get something else done other than be with them. If I'm thinking, I can unload the dishwasher or make that call or send that email, etc., when they don't cooperate, I get stressed. They know I'm only half there and then they get unhappy which of course makes me unhappy. So, what can you do that will allow you to surrender to your kids? (By surrender I don't mean give up yourself, but just be with them on their level, don't be distracted, pay attention and be in their world) Can you get someone to clean the house so you don't have to think about that, can you get a night out once in awhile so you feel like you have a life? Can you have a sitter occasionally during the day so you can run errands or get a manicure?
Ok, maybe you are already doing all that and it's not about that. I know that I have the tendency to yell (in fact I just yelled at my husband to hurry up and get the kids to the playground so I could have a break and write about not yelling) but for some reason, which I think is my pain from being yelled at, I have a very strict internal rule about not yelling at my kids. (I should make a rule for my husband - that would please him!) I don't yell at them. If I feel like yelling, I take a deep breath, make sure they are safe, and go in another room or in the backyard. I don't want them to fear me or feel that I, the center of their world, is unpredictable, nothing is worth that, as you well know. I choose the battles that are worth being fought and avoid the other ones. If my daughter wants to run around naked and I think it's too cold, but she says she's not cold, fine. If you limit the battles to the really important ones - those that really truly involve their well-being or truly unacceptable behavior, I've found there aren't that many. Also, I have found that the less I lay down the law, the more it is obeyed when I do. Most importantly, laugh, laugh all the time. It's funny when they are both screaming and wanting you and throwing things, it's a cliche of indentured motherhood and so far from your single self, you just have to laugh. Anyway, I hope this helps, and if you haven't been to therapy to process your own childhood already, I think you'll find it difficult but very rewarding and particularly insightful now that it's your turn to be the mommy. Good luck!
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