"Stop looking at me!" I yelled. Again.
Bunny has this habit of stopping her task and looking at me. It makes me crazy.
For example, this morning, Bunny was putting her shoes on during crunch time - get out of the house time. She stopped and looked at me. I did not react in a positive manner that would be a building block for future attempts. I yelled at her.
I have explained yelling to the kids in a couple of ways. First, I rarely yell in anger but often in urgency. It is challenging for adults, let alone children, to distinguish between anger and urgency. Generally, an apology or explanation is given once the yelling and task has been completed. It is important to me that they understand my motivation and that they know that we all have moments of weakness but that being open about our moments of fault comes of great strength.
Second, I have told the kids that I yell because it is an effective motivational tool for them. Being around many children during these last six-plus years, I have seen that some children shut down when they are being yelled at. This is not the case for my kids. And, depending on the specific situation, intimidation tactics may be incorporated with the yelling. Here is a sketch of how our conversation goes after they have completed the task under fire:
Me: Do you know why I yelled at you?
Child: (Crying or sniffling) Because I didn't get ready to go
Me: Did I ask you nicely?
Me: And did you do it?
Me: Did I ask nicely one time or more than one time?
Child: More than one time.
Me: After asking nicely and you don't respond, I have to yell. Then I know for sure that you will do what needs to be done. Do you like when I yell?
Child: No. It makes me sad.
Me: And it makes me sad, too. Would I have to yell if you did it when I asked nicely?
Me: Can you try to be a better listener next time?
(Hugs and kisses.)
So let's go back to the thing where Bunny looks at me. I know - well, I think - that she is looking for my approval. I suppose it would take less energy and keep a more positive environment if I have her positive feedback. Something like, "That's right, now push your heel down into the shoe."
On the other hand, she has successfully put her shoes on several hundred times. What is it that she is seeking? Also, she has a bad habit of looking away from her manual task while she is doing it, then starts grunting, then whining, then screaming when it becomes challenging or doesn't go her way. I remind her that actually watching what she is doing will lead to a greater statistical success rate. Her success rate continues to be average, at best.
The screaming and whining is not an occasional occurrence, unless three to ten times per day is occasional. I only wish I was exaggerating.
Her are examples of times that she screams in frustration:
Getting her pajamas off over her head
Getting her dress to slide over her head because she has failed to unbutton or unzip it
Putting socks on
Putting laceless running shoes on
Keeping food on a fork or spoon
Getting an action figure to remain standing
Getting a stuffed animal to remain seated upright at a tea party
Getting JD to do what she wants him to do the moment she has decided
Getting the ankle strap of her sandals around her heel and through the eye to fasten the Velcro
Opening drawers heavy from being stuffed full of princess dresses, shoes, and accessories
Closing a drawer that is so full of dresses that it won't close all the way because dresses are sticking out
Opening tight marker caps
Closing tight marker caps
Getting a tiara to sit properly on her head
Getting said tiara untagled from her hair
Getting her seat belt on
That's all I can think of right now.
First of all, it is genetic. That's all I will say about that.
Second, I am a pretty mild-mannered dude. Unfortunately, I sometimes bottle my rising tension. Externally, I will be calm, while internally, I am on the brink of breaking. That leads me to go from a nice, "Okay, Bunny, now put the strap around your ankle then through the eye," to, "STOP LOOKING AT ME AND GET YOUR SHOES ON! IF YOU CAN'T GET THEM ON, THEN THEY'RE GOING IN THE GARBAGE!"
The best way I have found to overcome these events is planning to leave for my destination far earlier than necessary. Tardiness begets urgency and urgency results in screaming. I would say I am about 25% successful in getting the kids going at a time when there is little urgency. If that destination is dinner time and the kids need to clean up, I know I have to give them fifteen minutes to clean up and check on them every five minutes to remind them to continue cleaning. This happens once or twice a week. During a good week.
But we try, don't we?