January 18, 2012
I am no parenting expert, that much is so ridiculously obvious I really didn't even need to say it. But on occasion, I am capable of making an astute observation that helps me out in my chosen profession.
Before I became a parent, I would have sworn up and down, side to side and on a stack of chocolate that I would never yell at my children. Like, never ever.
While perhaps I may not be raise my voice all the time, and I certainly never yell mean and terrible things at them, on occasion the volume on my voice box does get away from me. Once I had done it, it was easy to do again. Seems like one you cross that line, it's so hard to back step across it.
Dang. I hereby vote for do-overs! And start-overs! And popovers! Wait....
But still, I try. I really do try.
One evening, as I was preparing dinner, the boys started going at it. They were flinging angry comments back and forth and it was escalating fast.
The girls decided they just couldn't be left out and had to throw in a few choice words of their own, which only fueled the situation.
I have taken to yelling above such noise to get every one's attention, but I really hate doing that. It does nothing to diffuse the situation, it only makes me upset and the kids, while they may break up the fighting, still remain in bad spirits. Still, it's often just the reaction that springs up.
Well on this particular night, I did something that I had no idea I was even going to do until I was doing it.
Speaking calmly and just loud enough to be heard so the kids knew I was talking, I said:
"You know, I think Alayna is really cute when she smiles."
A couple of the kids stopped yelling and turned to me.
"And I really think Jacob has the best laugh ever."
It was seriously incredible. At this point all of the kids stopped what they were doing and stood watching me, obviously waiting to hear what I was going to say about the next child.
"I think Joseph can say some of the sweetest things when he wants to."
A smile here, a giggle there.
"And Savannah is the best helper ever. She is just so great."
I said all this while still calmly preparing the food.
There were several seconds of silence before the kids turned back to each other. Savannah started doing her homework quietly, the boys went off to play, and Alayna went back to her coloring.
There really wasn't any kind of grand acknowledgement of what happened, except to myself. The kids stopped fighting, everyone was in a better mood, and I didn't even have to raise my voice.
The power of kind words.
Do I do this all the time? No. Should I do this more often? Definitely. Will it work every time? Most likely not.
But it won't hurt to try.
"Be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life, but in the next life. Don't demand things that are unreasonable, but demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that He will make the difference." - Elder Russell M. Nelson