5 Pleasant Alternatives to Yelling

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Do you yell sometimes? How about a lot? Well, this Abundant Mama interview is for you then. I’m honored to give you a little inside peek into the brain child behind The Orange Rhino Challenge, an anonymous blogger encouraging parents to stop yelling at home. I always love these interviews. I hope you do, too!

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1. Welcome. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let’s start by asking about you. Who are you and what’s your story? How many children do you have and how old are they?  

Thank you for giving me this opportunity! I am a stay-at-home mom to 4 boys ages 6 and under and I go by the name of “The Orange Rhino.”

Last January my handyman caught me screaming at my boys. We’re talking red in the face, body shaking, full on screaming! I was mortified. I took one look at my sons’ faces and decided at that moment that my yelling had to stop. The next day I promised my boys that I would go 365 days straight without yelling. Soon thereafter I launched my blog “The Orange Rhino Challenge” to publicly chronicle my progress, keep me accountable and find support.

I go by the name of “The Orange Rhino” instead of my real name, as it reminds me of my promise to my boys and symbolizes how I hope to parent.

2. I love the name of your project — The Orange Rhino. It’s catchy. But, what does it mean and how did you come up with it? OR1


This is my favorite story! I wanted an inspiring symbol for my Challenge and I was struggling and struggling. One day my then 5 year old screamed in my face. I calmly said to him “#1, if mommy can’t yell what does that mean for you?” He looked straight at me, finger in his nose, and calmly replied, “I can’t yell but I can still pick my nose.”

That night I Googled the origin of nose and got rhinoceros; further research showed that rhinos are naturally calm animals but charge when provoked. Aha! I was a rhino; I am a naturally calm mom but when provoked, I charge with my words!

3. You mentioned having an epiphany about yelling. In the Awesomely Awake community we encourage peaceful parenting. Why is this important to you? What have you learned since starting the project?  

I learned that I often yelled because I was in a stressed place, not because my boys misbehaved. I have learned that yelling achieves nothing but tears and mama guilt. I have learned that being present and really listening when my boys are struggling is more powerful than yelling. I have learned that sometimes walking away for 1 minute to regain composure will actually get the Legos picked up faster than yelling.

But, one of the most powerful and important lessons I learned about myself, the one that gave me the push to start the Challenge, I learned during my yelling epiphany. I realized that while in the presence of others, I put all my energy and self-control into ensuring I don’t yell because I want to appear like a great, loving, calm and patient mom and I always succeed.

But when alone, all that energy and self-control disappeared. Without an audience, without potential judgment, I yelled freely at my boys. My boys are my audience, my most important, always there, audience; they are the ones who matter. They are the ones I love, the ones who will be watching me every day, learning from me every day, hoping for my affection every day! I don’t just want to appear loving and patient and yell-free in front of them, I want TO BE loving and patient and yell-free. This realization gave me the strength to start living a yell-free life.

4. What are 5 alternatives to yelling that we can share with Awesomely Awake readers? 

  • Talk out loud. State: “I don’t want to yell at you, I love you.” “I am stressed, can you help me?”
  • Play the Orange Rhino game. My boys say “Orange Rhino!” when they sense mommy is getting cranky and ready to yell; it’s a great warning system!
  • Do Push Ups and Jumping Jacks. Exercise calms me down and gives me much needed energy to re-group.
  • Post baby pictures in yell prone areas. (ie. bedroom doors). When I see a baby picture it reminds me not just how precious and fragile they are, but how much I love them and don’t want to hurt their feelings.
  • Act like a gorilla. When a big yell is brewing and is at the tip of my tongue, I bang my chest like a gorilla. It is silly and lets me release stress and makes my boys and I laugh.

The author of The Orange Rhino is a Stay-at-home mom to 4 boys 6 and under who has NO clue about the world of boy toys and games but is slowly learning. Before staying at home, she worked in brand marketing and used to constantly debate starting her own company around one of her many passions like cake decorating, photography, or doing random acts of kindness. She recently discovered though that writing a blog and helping other moms learn to not yell is exactly how she want to spend her free time. 

44 Responses to 5 Pleasant Alternatives to Yelling

  1. Alison says:

    What a terrific post, thank you for sharing Orange Rhino! (love the name)

    • That point about yelling when there is no audience is so true! I took in one extra child as a part time day home provider… and I COULD NOT yell! I was too worried about scaring her, so when she was around, everyone was treated very respectfully. Isn’t that wrong though – that we can verbally hurt the ones we love SO much?? Awe. Thanks for this. I will try harder… or have more kids over more often. ; )

      M.

  2. brilliant and love the challenge!

  3. Jen Butler says:

    Needed this. Now need to pray for the strength to put it into effect.

  4. I love this! What a brilliant, yet simple, idea!

  5. I am going to do this! Couldn't have come at a better point in time, especially after the day I had with my two kids.

  6. I like it. Good ideas!

  7. Sara B. says:

    Love this – thank you! I love the rhino comparison too. Perfect.

  8. Natasha Kucher-Opanasyuk says:

    Very inspiring and comes right from the heart. I just love it.

  9. Hillary Kulia Houseman says:

    Great interview. Nice to know the story behind the Orange Rhino!

  10. natalie says:

    this interview is right on the nose for me. i am a working/stay at home mom of 4 boys 8,7,5,3. i get so tired of yelling all the time and have tried countless differnet ways and always end up right back to where i started….yelling. heres to hoping that i can take on the 30 day challenge and continue it for the nesy 30 years.

  11. Toni says:

    I am so happy to read this. I used to not yell. I do now. I don’t like it at all and think was my wake-up call. Thank you!

  12. The description of how Orange Rhino is before she snaps is so me! I love the name, and I needed a name for me too! Read below! How do I join the 30 day challenge? Fab blog xx

    ELEPHANT
    Here’s another animal that is perceived as peaceful and kind. What’s more, elephants aren’t predators. THEY ARE KNOWN TO HELP OTHER ANIMALS AND BE SOCIALLY ACTIVE WITHIN THEIR GROUP. But while they’re not in an epic war against humans, they can turn on us rapidly, especially as a result of their abuse and harassment by humans.

    WHEN CAGED OR FEELING CONSTRAINTS OF DOMESTICATED LIFE, THEY FALL INTO A BLIND RAGE!

  13. Domesticated Elly says:

    Not only am I an orange rhino, but read below, it’s so me, except the extreme of killing humans!!

    Elephant
    Here’s another animal that is perceived as peaceful and kind. What’s more, elephants aren’t predators. They are known to help other animals and be socially active within their group. But while they’re not in an epic war against humans, they can turn on us rapidly, especially as a result of their abuse and harassment by humans.

    When caged or feeling the constraints of domesticated life, they can fall into a blind rage. They have been known to kill their handlers, both in zoos and shows in their native Africa and Asia, as well as stampede tourists who show up to admire them. Some zoos have ceased all contact between human beings and elephants for this reason.

  14. She is amazing. I have blissfully lost myself in her blog many times. The best tip that helped us was to yell into the cabinets. So instead of yelling at child I open my cabinet and yell about all the blueberries smashed into the tile grout during my 2 minute bathroom break. It lets me get it out, but in the end I don't have mama guilt, just feel silly and DS thinks its funny that I am yelling at the cabinet.

  15. She is amazing. I have blissfully lost myself in her blog many times. The best tip that helped us was to yell into the cabinets. So instead of yelling at child I open my cabinet and yell about all the blueberries smashed into the tile grout during my 2 minute bathroom break. It lets me get it out, but in the end I don't have mama guilt, just feel silly and DS thinks its funny that I am yelling at the cabinet.

  16. katepickle says:

    I wrote a post about trying to not to yell at your kids last year and it continues to be popular… I guess this is something a lot of us struggle with, and I could really relate with this whole interview. I especially love the idea to say out loud – “I am stressed, can you help me?” That really hit home with me because I do yell when I am stressed and what better way to teach my kids to ask for help instead of loosing it than to do the same myself.

    Thanks you for a great interview.

  17. amy says:

    Such an awesome interview! As a mother of 4 under 6 this really hit home. Thank you so much!

  18. [...] 5 Pleasant Alternatives to Yelling {Awesomely Awake} [...]

  19. [...] 5 Pleasant Alternatives to Yelling ::: Awesomely Awake [...]

  20. Natalie says:

    This rocks! I love these ideas. Yelling has been a fault of mine and this is great advice.

  21. Anonymous says:

    This made me cry coz this is me! Thank you for showing me that you are also in the same boat and there is a great solution to stop yelling, which I want to do so badly. A big hug from me to you :)

  22. Tina says:

    This made me cry. Thank you for this lovely post and for sharing. It is good to know that there are other moms like me out there and there is a better solution to yelling. It is so hard to calm down and think before screaming, a big challenge which I am determined to win. A big mommy hug to you from me :)

  23. [...] came across this blog today which I thought was perfect and wanted to share. I am absolutly going to take part in the [...]

  24. Excellent article! I wasn’t familiar with the Orange Rhino until now, but I’m definitely going to check out her blog. I love her alternate tips for yelling. Kids do stuff that we need to reprimand them for, but yelling doesn’t help the situation. But I agree, we often yell out of frustration or fear, so we need to conscious when it’s our emotions driving us to yell. Great interview, thanks for sharing.

  25. Holly Henderson says:

    Thank-you! There is nothing worse than driving away from kinder drop-off at 7:40 am and wishing I could take back all that yelling that had occurred at such an early hour…. ugh.. So glad I'm not alone. I hate yelling! I'm taking the challenge. I like your comment when you tell them, you're starting to get stressed out. I can totally see this working with my 6.5 year old son…Thanks!

    • Buffi Helton Messer says:

      Oh, the guilt of yelling at them before school. I worry all day that I have ruined their entire day. And it has only gotten worse since they are older. There are so many things I count on my kids to do to get ready in the mornings (mine are 16, 11, & 9) and I am so frustrated when it's time to go and they don't have their shoes tied or they can't find their social studies book! I know that yelling won't help, but I end up griping at them the entire drive to school sometimes. Productive? NO.

      *sigh* I'm taking this challenge seriously!

    • Lauren Wells Lutz says:

      Having taught PreK-12th graders, I can say that most yelling doesn't ruin their entire day, but it certainly has a lingering effect for a while. Recently I learned that once we are stressed, it takes us a minimum of 30 minutes for our brains to return to a peaceful enough state to be able to truly learn.

      And, I'd just like to share that last night I yelled at my son less than 10 seconds after I calmly asked him to stop screaming. And then I said, "What?! I just asked you not to do that, and now I am!"

      So glad this challenge is getting lots of attention. This is so, so needed.

  26. I am a full time to 10 children and I love your ideas….It only takes prayer and great practical ideas to stay sane and go through a day happy and content with your days work…..thank you!!!

  27. Love this. You have just found a new fan! I will be following this!

  28. I am in tears… I am "ONE OF THOSE MOMS!" In fact lately my 3 year old has covered her ears and told me that her ears are ringing. I ask nicely so many times and then it just becomes irritiating and that's when the yelling comes out. It feels so good to hear that I am not alone…. I am going to take the challenge and try some of your methods. THANK YOU SO MUCH for being so willing to share your mom experiences.

  29. I can especially relate to the statement about being able to control the yelling in front of others but just letting loose when we are alone. I've had this issue myself, and it definitely gives me pause as a mom. Thanks!

  30. Stavroula Gago says:

    Thanks a bunch this is awesome. I will start this as well. Hope my hubby learns from this too:)

  31. Excellent, thank you.

  32. Crista White says:

    I cannot BEGIN to tell you how much I needed to read this….my daughter is 10–going on 17—and man, does she know how to push my buttons. I think I have yelled at her more than I ever yelled at both of my boys combined. I was starting to feel like it was hopeless, but after I read this, it has given me hope and some great ideas to try. THANK YOU!!!!

  33. Cindy Tharp Lynch says:

    Love it, and I soo need this right now!

  34. Kimberly Little says:

    Love it. Thank you.

  35. [...] 5 Pleasant Alternatives to Yelling (awesomelyawake.com) [...]

  36. wow. I could have written this – especially the part about being able to compose myself when I have an audience other than my kids. I am really really really going to try to implement this. It will be difficult, cuz life with three 4 year olds is the hardest thing EVER. I love your alternatives to yelling. Thank you for writing this!!!

    merci,
    Shannan

  37. Kelly Maasz says:

    Love love love this. So true about being a different parent when I’m out in public as I’m aware of being judged. Like when I’m calling for my 3 yr old to leave the park for the umpteenth time I’m still using the words darling and sweetheart!


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