Keep Calm and Talk Quietly

In my post Stop, Look, Listen and Reflect – Mid Year Review I noted that I had been assessing how all aspects of my life are going:

  • How am I feeling about myself?
  • How am I feeling about my relationship with my kids?
  • How am I feeling about my relationship with my husband?
  • How am I feeling about my relationship with my friends?
  • How am I feeling about my work?

When it came to my relationship with the kids, I wasn’t very happy with what I saw. June had been a very busy month in the Planning With Kids house. I had a couple of quick trips to Sydney, a couple of presentations, Mr I was away for work and I had Mr I’s birthday party to organised.

I am not naturally a shouter, but I had found myself shouting quite a bit at the kids through out June. Shouting was taking two forms:

  • Shouting in frustration to get the kids to do the things I wanted them to do or stop doing what they were doing.
  • Shouting from one room to another to get the kids’ attention.

I know this was a direct result of my tiredness. When I am tired, my patience is far less. The worst thing about my shouting was it was setting the completely wrong tone and creating significant disharmony in the house. I noticed the kids had started doing the same thing as me; the whole house had notched up the volume and the tone with which we were speaking to each other.

If one of their siblings was annoying them, as opposed to asking quietly to stop being so annoying, the kids were shouting at each other. On my less than stellar moments, I would then shout from one room to the room they were in, to tell them to stop shouting – is that not insane???

The end of June and my moment of realisation about my behaviour, also coincided with school holidays. I knew if we were to enjoy the school holidays at all I needed to make an instant change to my behaviour.

On the very first day of school holidays we had a family meeting (without dad, as he was at work). I explained the above to the kids and apologised for being so shouty. They were very good about it and did concede they didn’t always behave the best. It was great to hear that from them, but I explained that as an adult, I know staying calm in those situations is the best way to manage them and I need to do better.

In the meeting we agreed to the following:

  • No one was to shout, not even to get someone’s attention in another room. We must walk to the room people are in and talk quietly to each other.
  • If I shouted at anyone over the holidays, all kids would receive an extra 10 minutes technology time.
  • If the kids shouted or used violence on each other they would have to do an additional household chore of my choosing.

The deterrent of the kids getting 10 minutes more technology time was really for the kids. Accepting my behaviour had been poor and committing to be better was enough me, but the kids loved that I had a consequence if I didn’t behave properly. They were certainly watching me like a hawk!

I did shout once during the school holidays, at one child and I felt dreadful afterwards. The kids were beside themselves to catch me out and I kept my side of the bargain and they received 10 minutes more technology time.

This didn’t mean I was the perfect mother over the school holidays. I still probably said things that could have gone without saying and I could have worded things better than what I did on some occasions, but the change in the house dynamics from me not shouting was amazing. The kids still did fight of course at times, but it was less aggressive and far less frequent. The noise level of the house decreased and overall every one seemed happier.

The Power Of Being Calm and Talking Quietly

Focusing on the tone and volume of my voice was a fantastic exercise for me. Not only did it make a great difference to the overall mood of the house, but it made me feel better about myself as a parent.

Staying calm and talking quietly works so much better than shouting. I would often have to take a breath to stop myself from using my loud voice and those extra couple of seconds helped me to think a little bit more about what I was going to say and how I was going to say it.

The kids actually listened more attentively when I was calm and spoke to them respectfully. They didn’t talk back as much either. The older kids who are now able debating partners, found it much harder to challenge a rational mum, rather than an emotionally worked up mum.

Shouting actually made me feel bad. For most of June, if there was an incident and I shouted, I would feel awful as I knew I had lost control of my emotions by shouting. Using a calm approach and talking quietly made me feel much more in control and in a better position to deal with the regular flare ups from the kids.

Now holidays have finished, we have decided to still stick with our rules. Everyone agreed they had helped make home life much calmer and enjoyable.

Have you ever found yourself doing things you know don’t work, just because you are tired?

{If you like the Keep Calm poster above you can make your own Keep Calm poster here.}