Recently one afternoon I was at my wit’s end with the girls and the verge of losing my cool. I didn’t want to yell, but it was one of those parenting moments we’ve all experienced when our kids are melting down or sibling fights are in full swing, all while the chaos of every day life unfolds at that very same inopportune moment.
During this particular episode, I’d reached that boiling point and while I wanted to stay calm, I could feel a wave of heated energy rising. I closed my eyes for a brief moment, took a couple of deep breaths and just started singing super loud:
“Happy Thursday to Me! Happy Thursday to Me! Happy Thuuuurrsday to MEEEE! Happy Thursday to Me!”
The girls immediately stopped in their tracks, looked up at me with mouths open and we all stared at each other — and then we started cracking up. My alternative to yelling was enough to deflect the energy in that moment, which changed the course of how the rest of the afternoon unfolded.
A common misconception with mindful parenting is that it’s always calm and collected. While calm is what we all hope for, the reality is we are all human, and difficult emotions — irritability, anger, sadness, frustration — are all part of our natural human experience.
It’s our ability to pause and respond rather than react in those heated moments that make all the difference in how our children feel and respond. Our emotions don’t disappear, but we can choose to let the “yell” out in a different way.
Many of us have given ourselves a “parenting time-out” or taken deep breaths, which are tried-and-true ways to re-center. Here are a few fun(ny) alternatives to yelling that use the energy that’s present:
Sing the Happy Weekday Song
Every day as a parent is a celebration, right? Why not sing about it! “Happy Birthday” is a simple song to change the words to, but whatever tune you choose, be sure to sing your heart out.
WOW It Out
My friend learned this practice from her meditation teacher: when you walk into utter chaos, just start saying “WOW! WOW! WOW!” Mouth open, arms wide…just WOW! The louder, the better.
Laugh Out Loud
Laughter really is the best medicine. Studies show it can relieve stress and tension, and is even good for our health. There is even an entire yoga practice centered around laughter. And even if the laughter starts off forced, you still get the benefits.
Move your body! Do jumping jacks or air boxing, or break out into your wildest dance moves. The shift in energy is sure to zap the tension in the house.
Stick Your Head in a Bucket (Really)
A friend shared this idea over lunch and I thought it was brilliant: just place a bucket over your head and voila, you’re taking a mini-parenting time-out in place.
Blow Up Balloons
Keep balloons in a central area of your house, and blow them up before you blow up! It’s basically taking some really deep breaths with a prop. Popping those balloons might also be a great tension reliever!
Research shows that taking in a little fresh air can reduce stress and anxiety, so if the option is available, go outside.
Take a Creative Breath
Turn a deep breath into a Blast-Off Breath:
- Press palms together like a rocket ship
- Inhale on the countdown
- Raise pressed palms raised into the air as you take a deep exhale
Feel free to get creative with your movements and everyone may end up taking deep breaths together without even realizing it.
Ultimately, if you still end up yelling, forgive yourself and talk about it with your kids. As parents, we’re extremely hard on ourselves. Parenting is not an easy journey, and every single one of us is going through the highs, the lows, and the mehs. When we share parenting moments — the “ahas” and the “gotchas” — we reassure each other we’re not alone in our feelings.
Let us know what alternatives to yelling you have tried at home. We would love to learn!