By Mallika Bhatia
The morning alarm wakes you earlier than you’ve been waking these past few weeks of vacation. You wake up startled because your body isn’t used to waking up at this time any more, yet you do because you have to. Your child hears you (maybe!) call out their name but doesn’t react. He/she is in a deep slumber, what almost feels like the best part of the sleep cycle. You call out again and again and then again till they wake up. For the next forty-five minutes to an hour your mind and mouth work at a speed of 100kph. From asking them to brush their teeth, to coming to the breakfast table, everything needs to be repeated. By the time they need to put on their shoes and leave for school, you have lost all calm and begin to yell. You are frustrated because they refuse to value time. You are angry since they don’t follow instructions. You get mad because you have to repeat the same thing everyday and yet what you say is ignored. The frustration makes you even angrier and you scream once more…
If this sounds familiar, then of course the concept of a peaceful calm mornings doesn’t exist for you. Yet, maybe you would love to have them. The good news is: it is possible. A bit of consistent work and your mornings can completely transform.
Über Moms ran a “Keep it Cool” challenge for the whole month of August for mothers who wanted to communicate better with their children. It was a group of proactive women who decided to change the yelling habit. I was involved in my professional capacity as a psychologist and provided the group with a daily tip to help them keep their cool and understand the reasons behind yelling. We also had four video sessions to understand the different aspects of yelling; why, how, what and who. In this article I shall share with you the top five tips from the challenge that could help you transform your mornings and life overall.
1. Let you child be responsible:
Let them take care of their basics like brushing, bathing and dressing on time without your having to tell them to do it. Teach them that getting to school on time only helps them. Their tardiness doesn’t impact your future in any way, but it does impact theirs; give loads of examples that they can relate to. Children tend to naturally not take responsibilities. It is upon us to teach it to them and we can do it in the most loving way by introducing one responsibility at a time. You can also use a star chart to keep them motivated in the beginning.
2. You only repeat twice or thrice:
If there is a limit to the number of times you repeat something, the chances of being heard are higher. Here repeating means repeating without consequences, after saying it thrice there would repercussions. In our household, I give an instruction only three times, after which there are consequences.They can be simple things like after these three times, you would not have any help from mamma and you would need to dress yourself, or it could be something like dinner would only be on the table for a limited time after which it may be taken away. You should find your own consequences that work for you and your child. The trick here is to be consistent with the rules. Follow them every time if you truly want a change. That is the only way they would get used to listening to you without you yelling. Which takes us to the next important point.
3. Understand that being firm is not the same as yelling:
Speaking in a firm, non-dramatic manner is a good replacement for yelling. It will take time and training for both you and your child to get used to it, but start replacing yelling by being firm. Body language makes the difference here, also the tone, volume and content of your speech. Mentioning consequences to your child is a good idea. Remember, not threats, but consequences. The difference between the two is that consequences are something that teaches the child what might happen in the real world. It is a positive way of informing them, whereas threats are like punishments. Threats usually have a negative impact, but not much of the real world impact is understood. For example, being grounded or not being able to listen to a CD doesn’t tell the kids the real consequences. It just tells them what they would have to lose by not doing a particular action. Examples of consequences are: if your room continues to be messy, you/mom/dad might trip on something and get terribly hurt. It is potentially dangerous. Another example of a consequence is: your screaming on the road/in the car could distract someone and they could end up having an accident.
4. Set the bar right:
If you scream instructions often, then the child usually doesn’t listen until you yell at them. Being taken seriously only when you are angry is quite frustrating, not only for you, but for the whole family. Slowly start replacing yelling by firm and clear communication described in the point above. Change the way you communicate and it will change the way your home feels.
5. And now my star tip:
Every time you feel like yelling, tell yourself to wait for 30 seconds. Every time. What that will do is give you the cooling off time you need for the first 30 seconds. Past which your anger will have been reduced and you will be able to choose a more effective way to communicate. If you still do feel like yelling though, go back to the rule of waiting 30 seconds. That is why I say every time.
These 5 simple tips can transform the quality of your life. Here’s wishing many calm mornings to you and your family.
Mallika Bhatia is Life Coach with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Diploma in Hypnotherapy, with more than 13 years of experience in this field. She is a writer, a blogger, and a published author with regular dedicated columns in two National Dailies in India. She also manages The Hope Tribe, a platform to share true stories of people who overcame obstacles and became real heroes. She practices in Munich at her office in NeuHarlaching or over Skype/FaceTime. Her website has more details about her work & for regular doses of wisdom, like & follow her on Facebook.