I’m yelling because…

Recently my family started using the phrase “I’m yelling because…” when things get loud.

It started as a simple experiment.  We were (and are) working on tone of voice issues.

yelling because header 1

Me:  Son, you need to apologize for hitting your brother.

Son:  I’M SORRY!!!!!!!!!

Me:  Saying you are sorry doesn’t count if you yell it in a hateful angry voice.

Honestly, I don’t know where the idea came from.  It was just one of those ideas that popped in my head randomly.  So I went with it.  I suspect it’s on Pinterest somewhere.

It’s been powerful.  And hard.  And humbling.  And gut-wrenching.

It has made a difference.

I yell a LOT less than I did a week ago.   After about the third time I had to explain that I was yelling because the television was turned up too loud, we figured some things out.  The kids have learned to pause the TV or use the mute button or – at the very least – turn the thing down.

My kids are learning the difference between when I’m merely being LOUD versus when I’m am screaming out of frustration or anger.  We’ve all learned that we can stop being LOUD by walking into the room and having face to face conversations.

I’m learning to be a better mom.

I started writing it all down.  It’s easier to see what is going on when I have to put it all into writing.  Seeing it stare back up at me in black and white makes it hard to ignore.

I have a yelling journal.

why my family keeps a yelling journal

For over a week now, I’ve had to live with a particularly ugly little entry.

Me:  Watty!  Are you up yet?

Watty:  No…..

Me:  Get up!

A few minutes pass…

Me:  Watty, I don’t hear you.  Are you up now?

Watty:  No…..


Feet hit the floor.  But the look on his face told me that I’d hurt his feelings.  He didn’t like starting the day with my drill sergeant routine, and I can’t say I blame him.

After this exchange, my husband wordlessly hands me my “I’m yelling because” journal.

Here’s what I wrote:  “I’m yelling for you to get out of bed because I’m too lazy to get out of bed and manage it any other way.”

Yeah.  I was still curled up in bed, checking emails and such.  Nice.

Then we went to church.

I felt like a fraud.

Once again, I was thankful that God is the God of new beginnings.  I was thankful for Grace.  I certainly needed it that morning.

I hate my yelling journal.

The kids just have to tell me why they are yelling.  I jot it down for them if I can manage.  It has the usual kid stuff.  They yell without thinking.  They yell as a reaction to any strong emotion. They yell because they are boys, because the sky is blue, because their team scored a point,  because they saw a cat….

Sometimes they tell me things I don’t want to hear.  They yell because I yell.  

I’m trying to decide if I want my kids to have to write in the journal for themselves.  I suspect we’re headed there.

As I work to decode my family’s yelling habit, we are becoming a calmer, quieter family.  That’s good, it was the goal.

I just never expected it to be so hard.

I invite you to join me.

make your own family yelling journal

Grab an old notebook.  Ours is in one of those cheap black and white composition books.  It had been used for something else, so the first few pages are ripped out.

I took a big sharpie marker and wrote “I’m yelling because” on the first page.

I stuck it next to the refrigerator with a pen next to it.

This isn’t fancy.  It’s not a scrapbook.  It’s certainly not something I want to archive!  I don’t think it needs to be done in a cute printable.

It’s a tool.

Just a notebook, a pen, and an intent.  That’s all you need.

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. Wow. What a powerful idea. I’d like to say we don’t yell that much around here but…I know it is more than I would care to admit. I’m especially bad at bedtime when I’m simply done for the day. I have to ponder this idea and make sure I wouldn’t be the one yelling, “Where is the I’m yelling because..” book all the time.
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  2. I think that any tool that helps us to think before we act – or at least guides us to improve our spontaneous actions – is wonderful. You are teaching your kids mindfulness and that is a skill that they can use in every aspect of their lives. Good for all of you!! (I need an “I am snacking because…” journal.)
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    • Um… I need an “I’m snacking because…” journal too. Yuck.
      Learning to think before we act (and edit our words before they come out of of our mouths) it hard. If my kids can learn that I would be delighted!

  3. This is such a wonderful idea. It’s definitely worth a shot. I feel like I yell all the time, and I HATE it.
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    • Do it! Even it it’s just notes on your phone or a pile of scrap papers in a box. It is making a huge difference for us. I yell because (quite frankly) it works. My kids keep ignoring me until I yell. I’ve been challenged to find other ways to parent beyond yelling. Hard to do, but every change makes a big difference.

  4. It is not an idea that I often hear. I think it’s a good idea to review our activities in a week or more, and most importantly how we control our emotions.
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