The summer is winding down, and you may be breathing a huge sigh of relief, especially if the kids have been driving you crazy and the first day of school is within an arm’s reach. Of course, you may have children too young for a school routine, and you can barely tell the seasons apart because they blend together along with the stressors of busy parenting.
Regardless of which scenario you find yourself in, parenting has those moments that test us to the very core of our beings. We may even surprise ourselves when we cross that line that divides our calm, parenting selves with the one who’s yelling, angry and feeling out of control. Can you recall a recent trip to the grocery store that had you feeling more like Regan, Linda Blair’s character in the “Exorcist” rather than June Cleaver in “Leave it to Beaver”?
I want to be an equal opportunity parenting pundit, so let the record show that this applies to the dads out there, too. We’ve all been there.
I don’t like to admit it, but I’ve found myself going from nurturing and compassionate to noisy and combative. So how can I—along with other parents—learn to curb this bad behavior when we feel like we’ve lost control?
Shelia McCraith found herself in this exact predicament. McCraith, also known as the Orange Rhino Mom, was embarrassed a few years ago when a handyman doing work in her house caught her yelling at her four children, who were all under the age of five at the time.
Now, personally, I give her a total pass. The lady had four boys within a four-year span. Her situation in and of itself was certainly enough to test any parent’s composure. McCraith, rather than succumb to the behavior she didn’t like, used this experience to make a very public change.
The very next day, she promised her sons she would go 365 days straight without yelling. McCraith succeeded, with a few setbacks along the way, by tracking the triggers that prompted her anger and frustration. She called the process “The Orange Rhino Challenge,” coming up with the term orange rhino because, she said, rhinos are naturally calm animals unless provoked. McCraith said that reminded her of her parenting self, helping her keep that gigantic voice in check.
McCraith went on to write about the experience in her book “Yell Less, Love More: How the Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids—and How You Can Too!” She said her inspiration for the book was not just motivated by the embarrassment she felt being caught yelling at her children.
“My kids are my audience, my most important, always-there audience, and I want them to see my love, not my anger.”
With that in mind, I was grateful to have McCraith as a guest on my radio program, “Perspectives on Parenting,” last Monday. After all, I’ve learned through my parenting fumbles and flops that yelling simply doesn’t work. It’s an ineffective parenting tool, and yelling always makes me and my children feel awful.
She craftily uses the acronym L.O.V.E. in her book, with the letters referring to: Listen, Observe, Verify and Empathize. As parents, it can be very challenging to see life through our children’s eyes, but using this tool can certainly help to shift our thinking.
Her more than 200-page book is filled with inspiring quotes by well-known people and practical tips for applying this common sense practice to real-life scenarios. She’s even provided a way you can track your progress, including a “yelling meter.” And, yes, there’s even an app for that! You can learn more about “Yell Less, Love More” and how you can complete this challenge at TheOrangeRhino.com.