Kids are Annoying And Other Reasons I Yell

Written by Emily

As I wiggled her little body into the pink corduroy pants, her nose wrinkled and she let out a colossal sigh. “I don’t want to wear these! They don’t feel comfortable!” she pouted.

I could feel it. Like an elementary school science experiment, frustration and irritation combined in my insides like vinegar and baking soda to create a bubbly cocktail of anger.


I yelled.

And then I rifled through her drawers to find something else.

Her eyes welled with tears. And mine did, too.

I reeled with guilt because that was her morning, too. If I pull on pants that are uncomfortable, I change them. She wasn’t being particularly unreasonable.

I could tell you it was the time of day that made me lose my cool. I could tell you that my dad sincerely warned my husband about “Emily in the morning” and added vehement head shaking and teeth sucking for emphasis.

But that wouldn’t explain why I had the very same emotional response hours later with Noah. He stormed off in a huff, stomping his feet all the way to his bedroom.

Strike two for mom.

Strike three hit the hardest and burned the most. Chloe sidled up next to Noah and inadvertently bumped into him. He wheeled his head in her direction and hissed something livid in her direction. In an instant a fight erupted.

“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa!” I announced as I got between my two children turned MMA fighters.

Anger mottled their faces, and even separated from one another, they glared.

Suddenly I recalled a horrible marijuana commercial from my childhood: A mustached father confronts his pot-smoking teen who yells, “I learned it from watching you!”

My kids could have turned to me and said the very same thing. “I learned it from watching you!”

The angry display wasn’t mine, but it was mine just the same.

I’ve seen headlines and blog challenges all over the web imploring parents to stop yelling. In my head I thought, “What? We can’t have an emotional response? We’re parents, but we’re still human.”

Then I noticed the effects of my short fuse. I’m embarrassed and more than a little ashamed. I’m ashamed that sometimes my go-to emotion is frustration. I’m ashamed that sometimes the unpredictability (or predictability) of childhood irritates me.

There are moments, sometimes entire days when I feel like I’m struggling to stay afloat; my kids with their novice strokes or enthusiasm for the water step on my head and grab my neck and grope and pull and squeal. I waste what little breath I have by yelling, and we all start to sink.

When Noah lashed out at Chloe, I saw he was focusing on his Legos. I know he wanted to finish what he started without interupption. I know that feeling, and sadly, I understand his response. But I can’t condone it. I won’t.

I’m disappointed that I neglected to show him a better way to handle his feelings to avoid a dam break that leaves the broken remains of people in its path.

So I need to stop. I have to stop yelling.

For 14 days straight I stopped yelling. In 14 days, this is what I learned:

I Need to Prepare

It’s not a matter of just closing my mouth and swallowing my exasperation. Not yelling takes preparation. I don’t yell just because. I yell because we’re running late and you need to wear clothes to school and you need a lunch and shoes that match and let’s review your spelling and where is my coffee and oh great your sister pooped. I can’t control the poop, but I can control the rest of the morning. And while even the thought of setting an alarm and waking one second earlier than I absolutely have to sends me into mild convulsions, I have to do it. I just do–to save my children from the wrath that accompanies my hurry–and to create order before the chaos.

I Need to Prioritize

I’m home to benefit my kids not to reorganize the closet…again. Because I hyper-focus and get frustrated when I can’t finish (see Noah and Legos above), I have to carve out time to reorganize the closet or write or edit when the cherubs are sleeping. I won’t be at my kids’ beck and call, but I have to be attentive.

Kids are Annoying

They just are. In addition to a slew of really fabulous qualities, they’re also needy and whiney and sticky and loud and weird. That’s why they need me. They need me, not angry me.

I Need to try Something Else

I played soccer in high school. After volleying the ball between my noggin and the goalie’s foot about 6 times in a row, my coach quietly said, “maybe try something else.” He saved my gourd that day, so I’m putting it to good use and thinking before I open my mouth and let my emotions fall out. Thanks, coach.

I Will Fail

I yelled after day 14. I’ll try again. And I’ll keep trying.

The truth is, I like myself and my kids a lot more when I don’t lose my cool. I always love them, always, but I really like them, too. Enough to set an alarm.

Categories: Emily, Family

Tags: , , , , ,

24 replies

  1. How appropriate as I’m laying here in bed trying so hard to delay the start of the morning rush… I struggle with yelling, too. I don’t like it and I have not been terribly effective at trying to stop. 😦

  2. Great post…as hard as I try I still yell and then immediately feel guilty about it. It’s even harder now that they’ve reached adolescence and have pretty much stopped listening to me altogether. Sigh.

  3. AMAZING. I related to EVERY SINGLE PART of this, but especially the pants part. My sweet 6 year-old is very particular about clothing. And it enrages me. Except when I read the part where you said you wouldn’t want to wear uncomfortable pants either, it made me cry. Because, yeah, and why do I forget those things at 6:37 a.m. or 6:43 a.m. when we are really running late? Thank you for this post.-Ashley

    • Oh! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! This was such a hard post for me to share because I felt like I was admitting I am not the mother I thought I would be. I’m not making fun of myself; I’m just putting it out there: “Look! I am making mistakes!” I so appreciate that you can relate on some level, and you were willing to tell me. Really. Thanks.

  4. I grew up with a yeller, so I worked very hard not to be a yeller with my son. It is not easy, and when I failed, I failed BIG TIME. Fortunately, it wasn’t very often; however, while I may not yell, I have other issues to work on! It was hardest for me to learn to stop and let Mr. T learn on his own. Do you know how hard it is for a type A control freak to wait for a toddler to tie his shoe? Yeah… that is where I struggle. Plus, my son is so much bigger than I am that there are times I forget he is only 15. He needs to be making me mad and testing my patience. 🙂
    I am very proud of you for working to be a better mom and a better person. I’m sending you good energy as you make changes in your life to help your personal growth. And what a great example you are to your kids that to show them we should always be growing and changing. We should never stop trying to be better people!
    Lots of Love to you!

  5. This post is exactly how I feel everyday!!!
    Than I go over everything I did in my head and
    How I can make it better. I also see my yelling
    Is affecting the way my boys fight.
    Em this was so brave of you to write. I loved
    It! Made my day!

    • Oh! Thank you, Tracie! I so appreciate you reading and commenting! I do the same thing every night. And sometimes I think: “What am I doing?!” And it’s the worst when you see it in your kids. Gah! Parenting is not easy!

  6. Another great piece Emily! And not to take anything away from your insights, because I think you nailed it, if I may be so bold to add that while you want to avoid actions you will regret, a little yelling might not be as bad as it is sometimes made out to be. Take some solace:

    If your kids are never yelled at at home, how will they cope when they’re inevitably yelled at in the real world? These coping skills will serve them.

    Your kids will get to witness how you cope with your own temper and frustration and that will be an immensely positive lesson for them.

    You get to have the post-yelling conversation, and whether you’re explaining and justifying, or apologizing, you’re presented with a huge learning opportunity for you children.

    • Eric, thank you for the thoughtful response. I appreciate your support. I truly do. You’re right; my kids will certainly be exposed to yelling. And I hope I help them to cope. I just don’t want frustration to be my go-to emotion. We’ve certainly had post-yelling conversations, and I am not above apologizing and sharing how I feel. I think that helps. I hope it does! Thank you, again!

  7. This was such fateful timing. I struggled with my son this morning to put on his pants and the more he kicked and wriggled, the more frustrated I got. Then I yelled, “stop!!!” Like super loud and I immediately felt awful. It did stop him but not in the way i wanted it to. I think back now and wonder why I had to be so set on him putting his pants on right at that moment. Unlike your scenario, we weren’t in a hurry. I was just getting us ready for an appointment early, no rush. I could’ve left it alone and tried the pants later but I wanted it done on my schedule. I’m not a yeller normally but I have definitely been stressed to my limits lately and I’m sure that hasn’t helped. :/

    • Oh, Jen! Thank you for sharing! I find some of our biggest challenges are when the kids and I are moving at entirely different paces with entirely different agendas (read: most of the time!). I have to applaud you for getting ready early. I need to take that to heart. In the end, we’re all human, aren’t we? I’m so sorry you’re stressed! That certainly impacts how we react to everything and everyone. You are not alone! I hope you find time to catch your breath and recharge soon!

  8. I think it’s because we love them so much that they bring out such emotion in us. I yell, too. I don’t know a parent who can honestly say they never have. I’m sure we could all do better, though, and I admire your efforts!

  9. My middle name should be Yeller. It’s what I do. I either raise my voice or I snarl and growl in a horrific voice that my kids have started to mimic. I try to control it, and I actually made it my Lenten Appeal last year, but bad habits die hard. Keep on keepin’ on, Emily! xo

  10. I felt a wave of “phew, I’m not alone” wash over me reading this. Thank you for this honest post. I have been feeling all of those things lately with my daughter. I hate feeling so frustrated about all the things you mention. I hate rushing her all of the time, I hate telling her to listen, pay attention, stop that, do this, and on and on so that when she doesn’t, I crack! And you’re right, kids just are annoying in lots of ways. ha! but it is our job to love them and be patient with them regardless. Getting up an hour early in the morning really helps my sanity. But it hasn’t solved all the problems. I read in another blog recently that we get frustrated when we are trying to finish something in our day and our kids take us away from it, when in reality, as a stay at home mom, those kids and those interruptions ARE our day. Really stuck with me though I’m still working on applying it.
    Again, thanks for this real post, meant a lot to me. xo

  11. I remember that commercial, “I learned it from watching you!” After I stopped laughing in my head about how ridiculous anti-drug commercials were, I sympathized with your pain. I see my frustrated mannerisms in my 6 y/o sometimes and think to myself, “Geesh, that’s what I must look like when I do that.” I sunk pretty low this week when it comes to yelling and I have decided to change my behavior because not only does my kiddo feel bad when I yell, I feel even worse.

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Thank you, Emily. Thank you so much for writing this. Yelling at my kids makes me feel like shit on the bottom of a really shitty person’s shoe. It is the bane of my motherhood. You are the second mommy blogger I have come across who wrote so honestly and profoundly about this very human, but very debilitating phenomenon that so many parents struggle with. I feel so horrible and so alone when I yell at my kids. You are a supermom for addressing it so openly and honestly and for staying committed to making it better. I get so caught up in beating myself up over my missteps and one of the most powerful tools I have found so far to help decrease the yelling is a gratitude journal. It’s my way of “preparing” for the day as you put it. It helps me start the day thinking of all of the amazing things that are going on in my life, rather than getting stumped by those annoying hiccups that sometimes make me yell. I adore you for this:).

  13. This is a great post, Emily. I am so guilty of the short fuse. It makes me so sad when I yell and my son gets even more upset than he was before. I try. I continue to try. I will always try. I liked what you said — so, after 14 days you yelled but now you get back on the wagon. Really loved this.

  14. I’ve seen similar reflections of my bad coping mechanisms in my children’s behavior. It is hard to face and at first just added to my frustration. (Great, now I have to fix myself…more work.) We made the ‘no yelling’ rule in our house and it has been surprisingly easy to follow. It is also, not surprisingly, easy to break. It is helpful to have my four year old interject, “We don’t yell”, when I’m about to lose it. Right, okay. Excuse me while I scream into my pillow. That’s progress. Right?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: