Yesterday was another low-stress day. We're still on winter vacation. We had no where to go today and nothing that HAD to get done. So we hung out in the morning until I got frustrated stepping over piles of...What is all this stuff?! in the hallway and had the girls clean their room.
Ash is at this magical age where I can ask her to do something simple and she does it. If she wants to. Alexa is 3. Sometimes she pretends she can't hear you. Sometimes she cries. Sometimes she hits. Sometimes she just wants help.
Tabs is destructo baby 3.0 and loves to mess up whatever you have just cleaned. Her favorite is to dump our a box of toys her sisters have just cleaned up.
I started out cheerful and happy, playing and eye-spy game to get them to clean. That deteriorated quickly into a game of me calmly repeating myself over and over. And then I was about to yell, but remembered, closed my mouth, took a deep breathe, and whispered instead.
I read somewhere that children can easily develop a filter for yelling; when you yell, they tune you out. I'm currently reading a book called Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by LR Knost in which is says "Yelling silences your message. Speak quietly so your children hear your words instead of just your voice."
So I started to whisper. The effect was interesting; my kids stopped what they were doing and strained to hear what I was saying. They were trying to listen to me! Amazing!
Several hours and a playdate later we did our before-dinner chores. My kids do this every single day, so they know what to do. Ash has it down, and every day I find it miraculous that she goes and does her chores. Alexa, on the other hand...
"What's your chore, Alexa?" (It's always set the table)
"What's your chore?"
"Set the table?"
"Yes! Hooray! Go get the plates....go get the plates. Alexa, the plates are in the cupboard. Walk to the cupboard. Alexa, Alexa, focus. Walk to the cupboard and get the plates. Great! Now put one plate at each spot. Alexa, put the plates in the right place. Alexa, look at the plates. Put them in the right spot, please. Alexa. Alexa. Please turn off the TV. What are you supposed to be doing? Please put the plates in the right spot." continued for five more minutes.
I asked my husband at what point yelling is my only option. He patted my back.
Alexa is three and full of imagination. While she was supposed to be putting the plates in the right spot, she ran back to her room and put her pajama pants on, both legs through the same pant hole. "I'm a mermaid princess!" She announced.
This is where my yelling instinct kicked in. Miraculously, instead of giving in, a spark of light pierced my anger. I remembered my goal, and remembered that she, after all, is only three. I grabbed spoon from her fairy tea-set. It is shaped like a flower/magic wand. I sung a silly song and tapped her "mermaid tail" and announced in my best impression of Glenda the Good Witch that she was turned into a human princess for one hour." I then helped her get both legs into different pant holes. I used that same Glenda voice to direct her back to the kitchen, I where I told her to put the plates in the right spot. She listened! She pretended she was a princess setting the table.
Ash noticed, too. "Why is mama using the silly voice?" she asked her dad.
"She's trying not to yell" he answered.
And so we go through dinner time chores. And somehow, day 3 ended with no yelling and hopefully a few lessons learned.