Here is our family’s latest attempt at self-improvement.
Starting rules: everyone gets £2 at the start of the week, and 20p deducted for every shout. We've never really successfully deployed reward charts, but it does feel like there’s some improvement already -- aside from the squabbling over who would get to write the tally marks and the kids’ attempts to doctor the chart. (The new additional rule is that only the parents get to make marks.)
I grew up in a home where one of my parents had a very bad temper and shouted a lot. For much of my life, I never thought much about my shoutiness. There were some experiences at work where my own temper got the better of me, but generally it wasn’t a problem…until I had kids. And obviously with kids, and family more generally, there are all sorts of situations, constantly, where your temper can get the better of you. And we became a shouty household.
I have wondered for a long time how shouty other families/parents are. I do see references on Instagram and other places to shoutiness that lets me know I’m very much not alone. However I imagine there are plenty of households where shoutiness is rare. I have wondered with curiosity and marvel about these sorts of parents - who are able to resist the indignation and exhaustion of repeatedly being ignored or outright disobeyed or challenged - not to mention some self-loathing about my inability to do so.
That wonder and curiosity and self-loathing, coupled with real sadness about a more prickly relationship than I would like with my offspring, and concerns from their dad as well, slowly morphed into action. First individual therapy. Then, parent therapy/coaching*, where we learned some mantras which might be obvious to the 'kumbaya' households, but which very much were not for me. Finally, acceptance that there was a problem, which was okay (we don't need to be perfect parents!), and the steps to address it - the chart you see here.
Here are the mantras in case they’re useful to you:
‘Connection before correction,’ i.e. figure out what’s behind the behaviour before going straight to punishment.
‘Strike while the iron is cold,’ i.e. don’t say or do anything until you’re calm. Even if it takes days. (This second one was a real revelation - I literally did not truly appreciate the importance of this, in all facets of all life, until recently.)
*We worked with parent coach Love Parent Love