On July 3, I took the Anger Management Challenge from The Orange Rhino. And two weeks later, I gave you an update here. The rules are: no yelling, shouting or screaming (unless there is distance or an immediate safety issue) for 365 days. That’s right. One year = no yelling. I realized I wanted my son to have a more comforting, nurturing relationship with me, rather than one mingled with fear. A little healthy fear is good, but honestly, this is mostly about me getting me under control. This is a self-control challenge.

So how’s it been going? Not good, folks. Not good. I had to start over two weeks ago when John bowled his apple across the table as Josh and I were simultaneously telling him not to. I don’t know what I said, but probably something like, “No!” and I clapped my hands to get his attention. Yea, I did that whole gym teacher thing. The yelling and clapping. It was real cool. I could hear the referee in the background with his whistle. Game over. For me.

So I’ve lost the battle, but did I lose the war? I’d say No. I’m doing so much better on any given day controlling my temper. I offer more options and affection, and my patience withstands far more of the petty goings-on. I feel proud. Gold star for me.

But I’m gonna get real with ya’ll real quick. Bed time is rough. Brushing teeth especially. If I’m going to have start over on my year of no yelling, it’s going to be at bedtime. Or dinner time, when he wants to have the experience of eating his peanut butter sandwich in every room of the house. It tastes like peanut butter in every room, son. But no, he has to go find that out for himself. You’re a real Christopher Colombus, kid. 

We’re getting the teeth brushing under control, and by that I mean, I don’t hate it as much. But for months, it was the worst worst worst part of my day. Literally. Worse than taking a shower, and maybe you don’t know it, but taking showers really annoys me because you get all wet. On purpose. And then you have to dry off again. And figure out what to do with your hair. No thank you.

Me taking a timeout from brushing teeth or catching runaway peanut butter sandwiches. I have to sit on a faraway cliff to really get balanced.

So brushing John’s teeth annoyed and frustrated me more than any part of my day because you really can’t force a toothbrush in a child’s mouth if you don’t want to get the cops called on you. So we did everything. Tickling. Cajoling. Threatening. Turning him upside down. Letting him brush first. Letting him brush my teeth. Nothing worked. For a very long time.

One night, I lost all human dignity and laid down on the floor in John’s room. Toothbrush in hand, I whine-yelled at the ceiling, “Why? Why are you such a pain? Why is this so hard?” John looked bewildered and probably just walked out of the room to alert dad of mom’s impending meltdown. If he was a little older, this would’ve been a great guilt trip, but alas, he’s too young to pick up on those kinds of subtleties. And thank God, really. (For the record, this was before the 365 day challenge, so don’t get all judgy.)

Eventually, I figured out something that worked. This was huge. Seriously. I felt like my soul returned to my body. (Slight dramatization.) I discovered if I let him stand up on the counter and watch himself brushing his teeth, he actually had fun with it. A few minutes in, or when I ran out of patience, I offered to “help” him, which he eventually let me do. So now that’s usually our routine. He brushes first, then I “help”. So now he has fun, and I have more fun. And we all know, if baby ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Sorry, Mama.

Apparently bed times from Hades are pretty run of the mill in American households. Heather over at Mama Knows, Honeychild, gives a hilarious illustration of what it’s like putting her four children to bed. Let’s just say, everyone keeps their eyeballs, but that’s an accomplishment. You should read it if you want to keep laughing.

What time of day are your kids most likely to unwind you? Is it bedtime or another time?

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One thought on “Anger Management for Me: A (Slightly Whiny) Update

  1. Oh my goodness. While I’m not a parent, yelling can be a huge temptation for me as a married lady. I love the concept of “no yelling” yielding self-control and thereby less anger. Kind of incredible!


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