Calm Me Down

I came across a tip in Screamfree Parenting by Hal Runkel that really clicked with my often-defunct brain (I lost a mixing bowl for 20 minutes last night—with the beaten eggs, sugar, and baking soda inside). Anyway, I’m hoping it will resound with you as it did for me.

When we yell at our kids, it doesn’t matter what we say. What we are really saying is, “CALM ME DOWN!” Your child will then rush to oblige—or not!—in order to stop you from throwing a fit, not because she wants to do the right thing. When we yell, we teach our kids little other than mom doesn’t have much self-control and that it’s OK to act irrationally when things don’t go your way.

If you think about it, calming down an adult is an awfully heavy burden to place on a small child. And by yelling, we allow that burden to fall squarely on their shoulders: “I am clearly out of control and you are the only one who can stop me from screaming by doing as I say.” We have become so desensitized to the sound of our raised voices, but it’s kind of emotional blackmail, isn’t it? Imagine the agitation and fear we would feel if someone we loved and admired was always screaming and taking out their stress and anxiety out on us. Surely that would translate into poor self-esteem, at the very least.

So now when I find myself yelling at my kids, an image pops in my mind: googly, flaming eyes, hair standing on end, and me screeching, “CALM ME DOWN!” I am quickly reminded that yelling is a loss of self-control and a pretty immature thing to do.

And then I make a choice—go downhill and continue screaming or take the high road and aspire to something more compassionate.

Maha Ezzeddine

Maha Ezzeddine lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three daughters. She is a dedicated MAS worker, part-time writer,  and creative homemaker.

About Marwa Aly
  • Aishah

    Very good point. I never thought about it that way. JAK for sharing!

  • fatima

    The lost mixing bowl cracked me up. Where did you end up finding it?

  • Amane

    Maha, that is such an ugly image. SO UGLY! And for that I thank you! I don’t think I will yell again … inshaAllah!

    BTW, I want to know where you found the mixing bowl too. I lost my tea pot a few months back :-.

  • Aishah

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that, Fatima. I would totally do the same thing. I always lose stuff. It’s amazing. lol

  • maha

    I was on a conference call, baking muffins, and pacing with the bowl in my hands any time it was my turn to speak. :)

    We looked in the bedrooms, in my closet, I could have put it down absent-mindedly anywhere. I finally found the bowl and the batter in the microwave. Still not sure why I put it there!

  • Lena

    I love it when posts talk about books. There are so many parenting books out there it’s hard to know which ones are of any value (since our time as mothers is very valuable). You’ve piqued my interest with this very helpful post so I’ll be picking this book up for sure inshallah.

  • Maryam

    Haha! I’ll be sure to remember that next time I react to someone! :)

  • ABCDlivinginKSA

    This was a really great article with helpful advice. Where can i find more books on parenting that are beneficial? I know about Elizabeth Pantley, which i read some articles, don’t know how beneficial the books are??????

  • fatima

    Salaam ABCD.

    there’s a resources page above that gives great articles as resources on parenting. I would also click on the forums link above and ask that question in the live forum we have. Alot of the mamas here would give you great advice on books to turn to for parenting. PS: I’d love to hear the answer as well!