In an attempt to show him who’s boss, I refused to let him leave the bath. Worse, I also didn’t have my A-game on, because if I did, I would have taken the time to console him and express much-needed empathy. Instead, as they say in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, “I got mad. I got terribly mad.” And I broke a promise—I yelled at him.
You may remember my attempt not to yell at my son again. He had been eight weeks old when I found myself yelling at the top of my lungs, frustrated as to why he wasn’t falling asleep. I had been successful for over two years before finding myself similarly angry to the point where my logical brain just lost it to reactive emotions. I yelled, “Sit down!”
It was a bad night.
I eventually got him out of the bath prematurely, toweled him off and cursorily went through our reading and singing routine before planting a quick kiss on the cheek and leaving.
I needed to be alone, so I worked on my zucchini plant (which, per my green thumb, has failed to thrive to anything but a bunch of leaves and shriveled mini zucchinis) to clear my mind. Once I cooled down, I took a long hard look at what went wrong. And I realized that when events get frustrating, I’m better off relaxing a bit, even if it means deviating from routine. Or picking my battles. Or that holding your ground can sometimes lead to disastrous consequences.
I also learned that power struggles are often escalated when we feed in to whichever draining emotion they’re already expressing. So that if he were yelling and frustrated, the situation would be much smoother if I didn’t yell back at him, as tempting as it is and how difficult it is to stay calm. And that it’s always best to be the bigger person and let it go. Nothing is so set that it’s worth this much draining energy.
I knew that my promise would eventually be broken and that there will come a day when I will yell at my son again. It’ll probably happen again, sadly. I am human, after all, and a mom. And with each difficult day I run into, all I can do is learn from it, and from this particular one, I learned that sometimes flexibility trumps routine, and calmness over power struggles.
When have you lost your temper with your kids? How do you deal with the aftermath of losing your temper? How do you prevent yourself from losing your temper?