I, like all mothers, am not perfect. I sometimes let my toddler skip her veggies at dinner, she eats more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than I would like, and when I am tired, frustrated, running late…I have a tendency to yell.
In the back of my mind I know I am yelling because of my issues, not my toddlers, but I raise my voice anyway. This usually just ends up causing my daughter to cry, not do what I wanted anyway and me feeling bad for raising my voice at her. Not once has my yelling got my toddler to put on her shoes, stop playing with her food, or whatever it was that moment that I found so offensive. That realization (with the help of the Orange Rhino) led me to reevaluate my parenting.
In her blog, the Orange Rhino gives many ideas on how to stop yelling and communicate better, and I loved a lot of them and have even started yelling at my toilet when I have had enough at her suggestion lol. It was reading the list of suggestions, that I had the AHHA moment, that I already had the tools needed to yell less and love more.
When my daughter, or life pushes my buttons, I turn off my voice and turn on my hands (and no that doesn’t mean I spank her lol). My using sign language to communicate during tense moments does multiple positive things. Since I am no longer using my voice, my daughter must turn and look at me, she can’t ignore me as easily. She has to focus on my hands, so this usually diffuses a tantrum, and even if she is in the middle of a tantrum, she can still be understood through sign. I know I can never understand what a toddler is trying to say through screams or sobs.
Because I am yelling less, my daughter is yelling less. I am modeling good behavior on how to properly deal with anger and frustration. Hopefully she grows up to learn to communicate through feelings and not yell or hit or even worse, bottle them up. When something upsets her, she now comes up to me and signs “I angry!” This opens up a dialogue for us that can continue in either english or ASL (which ever she chooses to go with), and we communicate through what her feelings are and why she is feeling them.
Thanks to Sign Language and the Orange Rhino I am learning to become a calmer and quieter mother, and I am seeing a calmer and quieter toddler.