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Health & Parenting

Could You Go a Week Without Yelling at Your Kids

For every mom out there saying, "Sure, no problem," there are thousands more shouting, "Impossible!" Here's how a confirmed yeller got through seven whole days using her inside voice.
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Day 3: The stress test

I take the kids out to dinner with my friend Susan and her brood. Between us, we have five children ages 7 and under, which makes for a big, boisterous table. As our kids squirm and talk at top volume, the woman in the next booth gives me the fish-eye over the rim of her wine glass.

I want to say: If you're looking for a peaceful, child-free meal, lady, don't go to a pizza joint at 5:30 p.m. But I internalize her judgment of me as a bad mom who can't control three children. To prove her — and myself — wrong, I grab Seamus's arm and hiss under my breath: "Use your inside voice now, or I'm taking you right out to the car, mister!"

This quiets him down for a few seconds, then I have to threaten him again, then his brother, then him, then his sister. I'm in a full sweat, while Susan just sits there, enjoying a garlic knot as her daughter bounces on the banquette.

"That lady's shooting us dirty looks," I explain.

"Really?" Susan says. "I hadn't noticed."

"Maybe we should get the pizza to go," I say.

"Why?" Susan asks, genuinely confused. "They're not running wild. They're just being kids."

She has a point. I'm disciplining my kids to meet a stranger's standards. If their behavior isn't bothering anyone else in the restaurant, then the wino lady is the real problem.

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