I am fully aware that I shout too much. I know that shouting doesn’t work. One of the first things that you learn in teacher training is that shouting at children doesn’t work. If you shout all the time, the children either get louder or switch off and if you are a habitual shouter you have nothing left in your arsenal for those moments when you really need them to stop and listen. I am fairly sure that the same applies to parenting.
But there are times when you just can’t help it. Unfortunately, at those times I don’t have time to stop and reflect on my choice of action and to consider whether there might be a better way of dealing with the situation. If L is pummelling his sister or R is strangling his brother, if one of them is about to decapitate themselves on a piece of furniture or put a rugby ball through the television I can’t help myself; I am shouting. There are times of extreme crossness when I shout so loudly that my throat hurts (only when they have done something so ridiculously dangerous).
So you get the picture. I shout. Not all the time and actually as they have got older probably less but it happens. I don’t think the children are particularly scarred by my shouting, they just know that I get cross sometimes and that when I get really cross, I shout.
My husband doesn’t shout. He is generally quite loud anyway but he doesn’t believe in shouting and although he would never criticise me for shouting he doesn’t shout. He has done a lot of courses and read lots of books about how to deal with different situations that arise with children and he prefers a softer approach where you reason with the child and get down to their level without shouting at them. I applaud this I really do and often feel guilty that I shout, but I also believe that we are all different and we all have different ways of dealing with things.
Last week he had a week off which is really unusual and as I have been working, he has taken on the role of ‘main parent’ for the week and has been in charge of getting the children ready and out of the house this week.
I have no doubt that our household isn’t the only one where this sometimes feels like an impossible task. It shouldn’t be difficult should it? We do it every day for goodness sake. Yet my children take it in turns to play the ‘don’t want to get up/ get dressed/ go to school’ game and it drives me insane. L in particular can be particularly partial to his pyjamas in a morning and it is often a very long and very stressful process making him part with them. In fact, I am fairly certain that one day, I will take him to school in his pyjamas just to make the point.
I moan relentlessly about the ‘mornings’ and how we are often late due to L or one of the other children playing up and my husband nods and smiles and probably thinks that I am exaggerating.
So this week, I decided to opt out and let him do the morning shift; it meant that he could enjoy taking his children to school and I could start my day with a cup of tea and no stress whatsoever.
Interestingly, as I was listening to them all getting ready, my husband did start to get a little stressed and as the course of each morning and each day passed by, his voice definitely got louder and what was that I heard … shouting? Surely not.
Was I slightly smug? Damn right I was and the words ‘welcome to my world’ may have been mentioned several times.