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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.

Day 7: An all-new mad mom

I wake up feeling enlightened. It's like a juice fast: impossible for six days, but suddenly I can do it forever. I marvel at how far I've come, and we have an amazing, sun-dappled day.

The kids are wild after dinner, and it takes me an extra half hour to get them down, but I don't crack. As I settle into the couch for what is, next to my family, the most important thing in my life — an all-new Mad Men — my heart swells with pride. And then Connor appears at my elbow to say, "Mom, I'm not tired."

ME: "Go to bed, buddy."
CONNOR: "But I'm not tired!"
ME: Firmly: "It's an hour past your bedtime!"
CONNOR: "NO! I want another story!"
ME: Getting louder: "No! No story! Mommy is closed!"
CONNOR: "But—"
ME: At full blast: "I'm DONE! Do you hear me? GO TO BED!"

And just like that, I went Betty Draper on him. I made it until 10:15 p.m. But I still failed.

So there you have it: I couldn't stop yelling for a week. But I did yell less. And I realized when and why I do it, and that, okay, it has less to do with the kids' behavior and more with my own moods. I'll probably keep yelling, but I'll also keep trying to stay calm. If the Hulk can turn back into Bruce Banner, there's still hope for me.

"My boys, ages 3 and 2, were running around like banshees buck naked — which they just love to do — and I yelled, 'Put your wangdoodles away already!' They just laughed and ran faster." —REBECCA GERSTUNG, CHICAGO

"In the parking lot at the county fair, my then-4-year-old son slugged me in the arm, and I yelled at him. He looked at me with sad eyes and said, 'Slug bug, Mom.'" —LORIE READING, NORTH JUDSON, IN

"My 3-year-old daughter blurted out an expletive, and I actually threatened to wash her mouth out with soap! Who did I think I was, a mom on a 1950s sitcom?" —CHERI OSMUNDSEN, SAN CLEMENTE, CA

Originally published on October 13, 2010 

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