“Staying quiet for even short periods of time builds will power and self-control because you exert force on your will by not giving in to your impulse to talk.” ~Robin Sharma, Who Will Cry When You Die. .
Yelling at kids, as I have learned, is a selfish way of releasing our own anxieties, fears and overwhelming emotions on them. It’s utterly unproductive because the kids are focused on our body language and facial expressions, not on our message. They are probably even scared and hurt emotionally by our sudden outburst. The underlying message that we are trying to communicate to them is lost amidst all this chaos. What works instead is to walk over to them, bend down to their height and gently give them our message using only as many words as needed, with a calm and respectful demeanor. This is very hard to accomplish sometimes when we are quite overwhelmed ourselves. .
This is where the above quote by Robin Sharma from my #currentread : ‘Who Will Cry When You Die’ made sense to me. I have taken short vows of silence before on my own, even before reading this quote. I did this when I indulged in selfish emotional outbursts in front of my kids that filled me with regret right after. Whenever I did this, I always wrote a brief letter to my kids first, explaining why I need to be silent for the next half hour or hour, always mentioning that it’s not because they did something wrong or because I am angry with them, but because I am quite overwhelmed and need to catch a mental break. I had my daughter read the letter to my 4 year olds. Then I stayed silent for the next hour or so, while still indulging in my mommy duties. .
Its slightly different from a “time out’ because there is no need to step away from my kids or my parental duties. It’s a way for me to practice self control internally, without imposing its effects on anyone else. It’s my way of cradling my overwhelming emotions without releasing them on my kids, while also modeling good coping mechanisms to my children. This happened a couple of times and the outcome was always great. I was happier and more relaxed after my vow of silence and my kids were spared from my disrespectful verbal communication.