Many years ago I read A Joyful Mother of Children by Linda Eyre and was struck by the idea of watching and listening for the "tone" in your home. She said, "parents are the 'sound system' in the home, and the mother is the 'volume, balance,and station selector.'" If you were to enter our home on any given day you would see we are not the quiet type. We are loud! We are talkative! Loving, but strong-willed! I've come to accept that family trait as "ours." However, oftentimes I've noticed that we will "freak out" before we communicate our needs. And I'm sure we all know what I mean by "freaking out!"
"Mom! He won't stop bugging me!"
"Get out of my room!"
"Stop playing with my things!"
"I can't concentrate!!"
And so I am now training myself and my children to communicate before the frustration hits. For instance, the other day A. was stirring marshmallows on the stove (for our delicious peach pies) when suddenly, without warning she blurted in exasperation, "I just need a stool!!!" I simply asked her, "A., did you communicate that need before getting frustrated?" That's it. One simple question.
I'm thrilled to say it's working! I have seen progress, mostly in myself. I react less often to their reactions because I have a question in my head just for these moments: "Did you communicate before the frustration hit?" Or if I hear some sibling rivalry happening, I simply say, "Communicate" and they (sometimes) catch the hint.
Changing the Tone in Your Home
Eyre also gives a guideline of how to make these types of changes in our homes.
1. Write downt he behavior that causes problems in your home. This can be a collective family weakness, the behavior of an individual child, your spouse or in yourself.
2. Write how you usually react to that behavior when it occurs.
3. Write how you will react in the future
You cannot change bad habits simply by saying, "I'm not going to _____." There needs to be a positive to replace the negative. There needs to be a planned response. For me, this week, it has been, "Did you communicate that need before getting frustrated?" Just having that question in my mind has helped me to be calm rather than stressed, in control rather than reactionary.