I Decided to Stop Yelling for 100 Days & Here’s What Happened — Part 1: The Meltdown

by Kristen King

On July 9, 2017, I lost. my. shit. on one of my 5-year-olds. It wasn’t just a momentary lapse. It was a solid hour of us screaming at each other. A grown adult, having an hour-long screaming match with a 5-year-old. And I was going to win. As I watched him lose the will to fight back, I had a flash of the future. I saw him going through life angry and broken and feeling unloved, with no soft place to fall. I saw myself slowly killing his spirit one day at a time until there was nothing left. I felt sick, watching him huddled on the floor, sobbing, unable to look at me. I did that. I did that to my child, the person I wanted more than anything in the world, the person I prayed for and cried over and worried about and adored.

Part of this happened in public. There were witnesses. No one intervened. No one said, “Hey, mama, take a breath” or “What the hell is going on here” or “Ma’am, you’re under arrest.” No one even seemed to notice that I was screaming the spirit out of my child. Maybe if I’d hit him? I’m not sure that even would have done it. No one cared that I was destroying my son—including me. He had to learn. He had to respect me. He had to cut that shit out right now. I had to teach him.

But I wasn’t teaching him. I was gutting him.

I could tell you all the things that created a situation where I was vulnerable to verbally eviscerating a small child, but it will just sound like excuses. There is no excuse. The way I treated my child was inexcusable. Deplorable. Reprehensible. Disgusting.

And somehow, at 5 years old and completely terrified of me, he had the wherewithal to tell me that. When the yelling stopped and we both sat there on the floor of his room, shaking and snotty with tears tracking down our faces, he looked me right in the eye. “Mommy,” he said, his voice trembling, “that was not okay.”

“You’re right.” I could barely meet his eyes. I was so ashamed I literally wanted to die. In that split second, I contemplated what might be the quickest and cleanest way to kill myself—to protect my children from me. I couldn’t come up with anything. I was completely blank. “That was absolutely not okay. No one should ever, ever treat you like that. Not Mommy, not Daddy, not anyone.”

“That,” he said, taking a big, shaky breath, “can never happen again.”

We were quiet for a few long moments. I wasn’t sure what to say. In the silence, it became clear to me that I couldn’t kill myself and make this go away. He would think it was his fault, and it would be an easy out for me. That couldn’t be an option. I had to do better. I had to show him he was worth fighting FOR not fighting against. I had to show him what real love looks like, to give him back his safe place and never take it away again, to build him up and never tear him down. I had to do it. “It will never happen again,” I finally said. “I promise.”

“I don’t believe you. I don’t trust you anymore,” he said.

I took a deep breath. “I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t trust me either. And you don’t have to believe me or trust me. I’ll show you that it will never happen again and you can believe what you see, not what I say.”

He studied my face for what felt like an eternity. Then, he nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay,” I said.

We sat there for a few more minutes and hugged for a long time. Then we went downstairs and ate dinner. I tucked him in that night like nothing had happened, but everything was different. He felt it, too. We were both shellshocked, and it took a few days for it to stop feeling like the air was sucked out of every room I walked into.

Posts in the No-Yelling Series

I Decided to Stop Yelling for 100 Days & Here’s What Happened

This is a series of posts chronicling what happened when I stopped yelling at my 5-year-old twins — or anyone else, for that matter — for 100 consecutive days. Each article in the series will be updated with additional links as I add more posts.

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Kristen King (aka, Mommy-in-Training) is a red-headed, glasses-wearing, wine-drinking, perpetually undercaffeinated twin mom who lives at 10,200 feet in Leadville Colorado, and founder of AmateurParenting.com. She and her husband, Jesse (aka, Daddy-in-Training) have fraternal boys born in December 2011, two dogs, and two cats. They are both endurance athletes. She works full-time from home in virtual training, and he drives the local school bus. Learn more and meet the rest of the AmateurParenting.com team on our About page.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ellyn November 28, 2017 at 9:14 am

Wow. You are brave to say it out loud. Thank you for your blog

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2 Kristen King November 28, 2017 at 12:25 pm

You’re welcome. Thank you for saying that. It’s not easy to lay bare all our faults. But it sure is powerful! I appreciate your reading and commenting. <3

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