I’m a Parent Coach and a Recovering Yeller
Several years ago I came across a No Yell Challenge shared by a friend on Instagram. I remember briefly glancing at it, rolling my eyes and thinking – Who can go a whole week without yelling at their kids?
At the time I was raising 4 kids under the age of 10 while running the administrative side of my husband’s counseling practice and holding a high demand volunteer position in my church’s youth program. While I felt a significant amount of guilt over my “unfine” parenting moments, I also felt justified. Who wouldn’t be yelling? Parenting was stressful and I was just being real about it.
I also knew that it didn’t feel good in the aftermath and that this wasn’t the parent I wanted to be. I remember after one particularly stressful afternoon my middle child approached me after the emotions in the room had calmed and cautiously said “I feel really stressed when you yell Mom.” It was the gut punch I needed to realize how my yelling was affecting my kids. Not only were they old enough to remember these moments, they could even express how it was making them feel.
At the time, looking at parenting tools like books or social media accounts almost felt painful. I somehow thought that researching a better way would just shine a light on everything I was doing wrong. And comparing myself to other parents who seemed to “have it figured out” only put more pressure on me to make my kids “behave.”
I don’t think I can pinpoint the exact “aha” moment that created the shift I needed but as I started to explore more current approaches to parenting, three ideas began to solidify in my mind. This shift in perspective eased the pressure I was putting on myself and I began to parent from a calmer and more confident place.
There are many ways to parent well. What my family valued and the ways in which we chose to teach/live those values didn’t have to look like other families. There was no “one way” to parent.
When we feel better, we do better. This was true for my kids AND for me. My ability to manage my own stress directly correlated with how positively, flexibly, and creatively I could respond to my kids. And in turn, when they were well supported, their brains were primed for good decision making too.
My role as a parent wasn’t to make my kids BE good, my role was to teach them to CHOOSE good. This meant being patient with their development and seeing the long term goal of raising empathetic, resilient, critical thinkers who need practice making their own choices.
These three ideas have provided the foundation for my current parenting. Am I perfect at them? No. Do I still yell at my kids sometimes? Yes. But more often than not I can ground myself in these principles and find a better way.
Want to find your peace with calm and confident parenting strategies? Let’s talk.