On being impeccable with your word (or voice), preschool edition

I just read this post on Snickollet and it really hit home for me. I have been thinking a lot lately about the way I talk to Harrison, particularly when I’m extra tired and/or achy and/or he’s behaving particularly three-years-old (seriously, kid, what is with the moshing/screaming/talking back/Tasmanian Devil thing? And why did it just turn on like a flipped switch on your third birthday?). I am much more yell-y than I thought I would be as a parent. And I’m ashamed of it.

Now then, there are certain situations where yelling is warranted, I think. For example, as we were leaving our local Old Navy yesterday, Harry ran out into the parking lot without me, having sprinted off before I could grab his hand. Oh, you bet I hollered, and I even gave him a very carefully considered, non-angry swat on his little tushy because Extremely Dangerous Behavior warrants, in my opinion (and Matt agrees), stepped-up attention-getting maneuvers by the Parental Units. We are very anti-corporal punishment, but man, I am a yeller, which really, really bothers me.

Here’s why: I have a longtime friend whose sister-in-law could be considered an Extreme Yeller. She hollers at her 15-year-old son over anything (but, of course, when he’s “borrowing” his relatives’ credit cards to pay for online porn and running up their pay-per-view for the same ends, there are NO consequences). I have never seen this child nurtured or seen any sort of affection paid to him in my years of interactions with this family. He’s either ignored or screamed at. And guess what? Two weeks ago, he attempted suicide. For the second time.

Now, I’m not saying that every kid of a Parent Who Yells is going to end up attempting to kill themselves: I am fully aware that correlation != causation. I *am* saying, though, that this incident and my reflection on this other woman’s parenting choices made me aware of my need and desire to speak to Harrison a little more respectfully, to honor his dignity and worth as a human being, especially since this pregnancy has made me the meanest version of myself. I don’t like it, but I accept it and now I have to really, truly commit to treating my son with the same kind of respect and consideration I expect from others (even though I don’t always get it).

And just last night, I felt compelled to apologize to Matt for being short-tempered with him; I was exhausted, my back and uterus were hurting, and we were just not being very nice to each other. Now why wouldn’t I afford that same consideration for my kid? And if I don’t model respectful talk to him, who will?

Next: an update on my new classroom ethos.

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1 Comment

  1. A

     /  October 7, 2008

    I’m noticing a lot of self-reflection going on with you. Nesting much?

    Best of luck with the non-yelling. I’m not much of a yeller (I know-shocker!), but I can be mean. It’s hard to make those kind of big changes.


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