It happens to every parent. Kids are hard to handle sometimes. They don’t listen when you are telling them important things so things get broken, things don’t get done and moms get upset. You are human. You are allowed to make mistakes. But how can we turn these moments into teaching moments for our kids? Easy. By apologizing.
I’ll tell you my story and maybe it will help you a little.
The other day we were cleaning the house. I dread these days because this is when I get the most frustrated. I was trying really, really hard to be patient. On top of it all, my husband had asked my kids to clean out the turtle tank, which means I need to help them. I helped my oldest son carry the tank outside so we could dump the water out. We hadn’t removed the big rocks from the bottom of the tank like we should have, so I asked him to be very slow about tipping it so the rocks wouldn’t break the glass on the tank. Of course he went full speed ahead and SLAM! One of the rocks drops down to the bottom of the tank and it shattered the glass. Now, remember that I was already on edge and barely keeping it together when this happened. That was the last straw. I warned him. I told him how to do it. I explained how to do it carefully. WHY DID HE DO THAT!? Why didn’t he listen to me? NOW WE HAVE TO BUY A NEW TANK!
I started yelling and my face turned bright red. I was saying “Now you have to drive to the store and buy a new tank with your own money!” “I can not believe you didn’t listen to me! When are you going to start listening to me?” and it went on and on. Then I started yelling at everyone else about how upset I was and how I was so frustrated with everyone not doing as I ask. This went on for about 5 minutes.
Then I really looked into the faces of my children.
They felt so sorry for my oldest son. I could see their concern. I could see his heartbreak. I could feel how they felt. Because I grew up in a home where my parents yelled. I knew exactly how they felt. How could I do this to them? I wasn’t using bad words, but it didn’t matter. It was how I was yelling that mattered.
It’s my job to show my kids how an adult should act. It’s my job to teach my kids how to react when things are hard. And MORE IMPORTANTLY, it’s my job to teach my kids how to admit when you did something wrong and say you are sorry.
I took the time to cool down and really think about what I was going to say. My oldest son was up in his room. I called him down so I could talk to him and I could tell he was crying. My big, tough, 16 year old son was crying because of me and my words.
I felt so horrible. I felt like a failure. I felt like the worst mom in the world.
He eventually came down and I sat across from him. I made him look at me and I said I was sorry. But not only that I was sorry, but that I had no right to get upset like that about a stupid old turtle tank. I explained to him that my temper got the best of me and I had found my breaking point. I explained that it was not OK that I yelled and that he was so much more important to me than a clean house and a clean turtle tank. His feelings are more important to me than anything else. I told him that he didn’t have to pay to replace the turtle tank and he was relieved. He works hard as a lifeguard and I could tell that he didn’t want to spend his hard earned money like that. We stood up and hugged each other for a while. He’s never hugged me so tightly. I think he really appreciated my apology. That’s the amazing thing about kids. They really do forgive. He really is a good kid. He helps me out so much. He get’s good grades and takes college courses as a Junior in High School. He’s a teenager and he deserves to make mistakes just as much as I do.
I called the other kids into the room and also apologized to them. I told them that the way I acted was not OK.
Unfortunately this will not be the last time I yell at my kids. But I really have done a lot better in recent years. I really have found a few tricks that help me to not yell.
- When something really upsets me, I walk away and go to my room so I can really think about what I want to say. JUST WALK AWAY.
- I try not to react right away to a situation unless it’s absolutely needed.
- I take a deep breath and count to 10.
- When I start yelling and getting frustrated I try to change the situation by distracting myself with a project of my own.
- I turn on calming music when it’s time to clean the house or if the kids are getting really bratty with each other.
- I’ve adjusted my standards of what is expected of my kids. Sometimes I strive for perfection and we all know that is never a goal accomplished.
- I’ve learned how to deal with each child separately. Each one of my children can handle a different work load. I have learned what works for each child.
- I’ve changed things around to reduce everyday stress so I can be more calm in general. Here is an article I’ve written with 7 Tips for Stressed Out Moms.
- I’ve learned how to communicate more clearly. I make my kids look me in the eye when I ask them to do something. This helps them focus and remember what I’ve said so there are no misunderstandings.
- I’ve learned to communicate my feelings better. Instead of saying “You make me so mad when you mess up like that!” I’ve learned to say “I’m so frustrated with this situation right now!” I know if I start blaming things on my kids they will remember those words for the rest of their lives.
- I ask for help every minute of every day from God. He sent me these children and He knows I can be a good mom. If I read my scriptures in the morning I’ve learned that I am a more patient, kind, and loving parent. If you are not a religious person, try meditating every morning. It will help you focus on what is important and what is not.
These are all small and simple things I do to help keep my temper under control. I’d have to say that generally I am a calm patient person, but when you push me too far, I snap. I am hoping to perfect my techniques so that I’ll never have to say I’m sorry for yelling again, but until then, I’m going to teach my kids how to say they are sorry when they make mistakes by example.
“May we rise up and be men and women of God, mastering our tempers so that peace and love may abound in our homes.” Elder Douglas E. Brinley
President Hinkley said: “A violent temper is such a terrible, corrosive thing. And the tragedy is that it accomplishes no good; it only feeds evil with resentment and rebellion and pain. To any person within the sound of my voice who has trouble controlling his tongue, may I suggest that you plead with the Lord for the strength to overcome your weakness, that you apologize to those you have offended, and that you marshal within yourselves the power to discipline your tongue.”
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