Sunday, August 3, 2008

How to speak really nicely to your children...

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It’s true confession time. I used to have a problem. I cursed. It wasn’t anything worse than The Bible’s name for a donkey or a place where sinners go, but I didn’t use these words just when I got hurt or mad. I used them in everyday, friendly conversation. One day my eyes were opened when a 16-year-old babysitter said to me, “You know, Sister C., you really shouldn’t talk like that.” Wow. I knew I had to stop, but it was a habit ingrained in my mind since birth. I came from a long line of casual cussers and I knew it wouldn’t be an easy road. So I came up with a plan. I told my kids that every time they heard me cuss, I would pay them one of these...


This plan worked wonders, as I quickly grew weary of digging in my purse for change or one dollar bills to pay them. I stopped cursing, except for the times when I was really angry, and at these times, the kids learned that it was best to wait a period of time before asking me for the dollar. Smart kids. I think the last time I used a really bad word, one you WON'T find in The Bible, was when a crazed lunatic with long dreadlocks jumped out from the shoulder of the freeway right in front of my van. Fortunately I was able to swerve out of the way and not send him to his eternal rest, but the words that came out of my mouth were words for which I’ve since repented and can only hope have been wiped clean from off the slate of my life history.

Now, onto my next problem. I yell at my kids. Try as I may to speak kindly to them, there is always a breaking point, usually at least once a day, in which I lose my cool and raise my voice. I’ve tried prayer, counting to ten, leaving the room, eating ice cream, but nothing works. I know I yell LESS than I used to when I was a younger mom, but I still do it and I want it to stop. After all, I am raising the parents of my grandkids and do I want THEM to be yelled at? Of course not! So, this morning as I was praying in the shower, (yes, I get on my knees on the porcelain as it’s my only private time all day) I came up with another plan. I’ve told my kids that whenever I yell at them, they will be entitled to receive one of these cards…


(Thanks for the clever poem, Mom!)

The next time I ask them to do a chore (and if you know me, that is often!), they can present me with their card and I have to do the chore for them. I can’t think of a better motivator to get me into gear than this. When I spoke with my grown daughter about this, she said, “Oh Mom, I think your household is going to collapse.” She knows how much the kids help me and, perhaps, how much I raise my voice and she knows I am going to pay. We shall see, Bethany. We shall see.

Now, some things to think about. If you chose to use this method, you need to clarify to your children what a “yell” actually is. When you are yelling across the yard to call everyone in for dinner, that would not be considered a yell. When you are raising your voice to be heard over two crying twins, one screaming toddler, the piano, the Play Station 2, the wheat grinder and the phone ringing, all at the same time, that would not be considered a yell. When a number ten can of wheat drops from a high cabinet onto your bare toe and you yell about it, THAT would certainly not be considered a yell.

One last problem you may want to consider when using this method is that your children could potentially purposefully try to act in such a way as to get you to yell so as to earn a card. You must be constantly vigilant of this possibility and make sure to have prepared an alternative method of dealing with your children, aside from yelling, should this occur. (More on alternative methods in a future post.)

If you like my graphic and want to use it for your own purposes, you can have it! Just right click on it and save it to a file. I honestly don’t know if it’s the right size for business cards, so I was just going to print it out on card stock and cut each card individually. If you try this, please let us know how it goes! Good luck!

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38 comments:

Salsa Mama said...

Great idea! Can't wait to hear how it works!

Cambria, Greg, Alan and Molly said...

I sometimes have that problem too. It is like LISTEN TO ME! I have tried 14 different things to get you to pay attention to me and you are ignoring me still. I stopped when my 3 year old said "Mommy, you're not being nice. Jesus said be nice." ok- enough said wise child. You can do it!!!

rachelle said...

funny jen! although it will take me lots and lots of dollars to give up my favorite words!

the singer family said...

Does it still count if you say the bad words or yell in your head??? At least I have managed to keep it all on the inside.

C said...

Oooh!! I love the card! I wonder if I could bear to use one when I'm mad enough to yell. I'm usually good at containing it until I'm saying something for the 5th time.... but it is a definite pattern.

I want to hear how this works for you!!

Hugs,
C

B Wiens said...

Good idea! I wish I had such creative ideas, when my girls were small....because THAT was my problem too (the yelling)!! But now that they are out of the house...I can only yell at myself. And that is usually done in my head. :)

Rach =o) said...

I laughed nearly all the way through this post Jen. Your so great! I wish I was as motivated as you were to change these things. There's not enough money in the world to curb my "habbit" and as far as yelling....sheesh, I don't even know where to start. Your my new hero. You go girl!

Amanda B. said...

I, too, am a yeller and struggle with this daily. I love my kids and hate to yell at them and certainly don't want them to be this way. I cringe when I hear them yell at each other, knowing where they got it from. I talk to them about using soft voices and that we shouldn't yell at each other and I know what they must be thinking....

Thanks for the tip! I will think about this- a good idea!

Krissy said...

Jen!!!!!! lol You sound like me. Except, considering how MANY kids you have, I think YOU are the one who gets off scott free! lol I only have 2 .... but do puffs constantly spilled on the floor, never-ending questions, biting, running into the road, hitting, kicking, screaming, snatching toys from people .... etc, do those count as passes? lol I'm tired.

MERRIANNE said...

ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaa! you are sooo funny!! you're just keepin it real!!!

H. E. -double hockey sticks-- is my "word" of choice.

that is pretty sad isn't it???

Derrick and Laurice said...

That is the cutest card! Does it work on husbands???

Jarmeg Family said...

Great idea i think i am going to use your get out of a chore free card. I think that will help me too!

Barbiemat said...

I LOVE it! I am going to try this!

Untypically Jia said...

Oh I just love that little poem! Very cute! Thanks for stopping by my blog by the way!

Bethany Cox said...

you know, i remember that night when you almost hit that man very vividly. i was terrified. how old was i? i don't remember seeing him but i remember your reaction and the intense swerving of the van...

CJ, the Purple Diva said...

I'm surprised Krissy didn't say, I grew up with a mom who was a yeller! LOL
BUT, in my defense, I didn't have to yell near as much at the girls as I did my BOYS! MY BOYS IGNORE THE HECK OUT OF ME and still do!
Oh what a creative woman you are! I sure hope this plan works. And yes, I know what you mean about having the kids to help! I need their help so much! And I know you do too, what with trying to raise twins and a 2 year old and the other kids! That's too funny!

The Farmer's Wife said...

You are FUNNY! and wonderfully honest Jen...Thanks for the tips, my kids will certainly appreciate your help;) hehe

Kristin said...

I'm really curious to know how this goes, Jenny. I want to see what your alternative to yelling turns out to be.

Melinda Pink said...

You are too funny! I to will be interested to hear how it works. Good Luck..

The Apron Queen said...

Dang, my kids would be very wealthy & the house would be a mess if I did this. :) I should probably go wash my mouth out with soap now. :)

Confessions of an Apron Queen

MERRIANNE said...

i hope your idea works!!! :) it sounds promising!!!!

Amy said...

That's a good idea. My daughter is quite the mocking bird these days, so I have to becareful when I stub my toe! I like how you have a pic of Jesus as one of the men in your life.
9 kids...Wow!

D... said...

How very creative & clever you are!!

I'm not a cusser (being laughed at cured me of that), but, I admit, I have yelled quite a bit.

My Sincerely 'Fro Me to You is up too.

Rena Gunther said...

I love this....I have always struggled with cussing when angry or I hurt myself. Funny, how one can think they are alone in something like this.

Thank you for being so honest and sending your ideas our way!

...A Mom who sometimes raises her voice, um, yells....:)

We are THAT Family said...

I'm laughing too hard! Very cute! And very wise. . .

Muthering Heights said...

That's a great idea...let me know how it works out!

Mrs. N. said...

Very clever

Dreamer said...

Oh, good. I was beginning to think I was the only one who yells at her children. Thanks for the tips. I have found the stop, drop and pray method effective. When I feel the stress creeping in I just get on my knees no matter what is going on and pray. The kids ask me what I'm doing and I tell them "Mommy's praying that she will not beat all of you sensless right now." They usually get the hint and will settle down.

Jen said...

Good idea! I am happy to say that this is ONE area I don't struggle with my children, because I don't have a voice that can raise very well. In my head is another story though, lol.

Dana said...

Very creative. I'll have to keep that in mind when my kids get a little older.

PinkDaisyGirl said...

I am going to seriously consider using this, as I am a yeller. I have a loud voice though, so clarification will definitely be necessary! I've been shushed my whole life. I say seriously consider only because I'll have to do some real planning on how to make it work, probably just like you explained in your post.

Thanks for the idea.

The Lazy Organizer said...

I'm a yeller too but I'm getting better. The problem with my family is that I don't even have to raise my voice. All I have to do is say something they don't like and they will go off about how I yelled and screamed at them. Clearly they exaggerate and clearly when I do yell, they deserve it!

Keeley said...

Did it work?

I have a problem with being the invisible person in the house where I ask someone to do something and am completely ignored. How does one go about getting their attention? Or, even worse, getting them to actually DO the thing you've asked them to do even when they ARE paying attention?

Mom2my9 @ 11th Heaven said...

Keeley, I didn't stick with it enough to know. Is that not horrible?

As far as the ignoring thing, if I am sure my kids heard me, and they still ignore me, I will dole out some consequence, like making them work for an extra 20 minutes or something like that. I love assigning extra chores as a punishment. They learn work ethic, they are taught a lesson, and my house gets cleaner!

Keeley said...

Hahaha, no, that's hysterical. =D

I had a friend once who said "They say the best gift a parent can give to their child is to be consistent. The only thing consistent about me is my inconsistency." I SO relate to that. =D

alessandra said...

Sometimes i go to older post I never read, this one is so ingenious, how things are going now? I have the same issue :)

Lindsey the Muse-r said...

Prayers answered! Who knew that randomly clicking on interesting post links on your blog would lead me to that?
I have been doing some soul searching on this very thing lately. I used to be such a yeller when my first was tiny. Then I calmed down a bit for a few years until recently when the twins started ignoring me. I feel like I'm yelling all. the. time. now. The other day, it struck me that I would never ever speak to my husband the way I speak to my children; why in the world am I speaking to my kids this way?? Not only do I yell, but I've become quite cynically sarcastic with them, too. Ug. I feel like such a horrible mom when I think back on the things I've said to them. I need someone to follow me around whose only job is to slap me across the face when I say something snotty or yell at my kids. I've been praying and praying for help to keep my brain ahead of my emotional tongue. It's helped some, reading this post made me think I need a more tangible punishment than my own guilt. My kids are too young for the chore card to really be of use, but the wheels are turning now and I'll come up with something.
Thank you so much!

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Thank you so much, Lindsey, for this your comment. You made my day. I hope you find something that works. Let me know! I have 2-year-old twins, and I find I'm at my wit's end often! How old are your twins?