Yelling at My Son Over the Christmas Lights

christmas tree closeupChristmas stresses me out. I never have enough money or time this time of year. On this particular day, I had just walked in the house with the kids and my son went right over to the Christmas tree and started “fixing” the lights. I had just put them on the tree. He pulled at them, and he messed them up.  And I got mad.

I really blew it. I said, “What are you DOING?! You wrecked it! I can't believe you did that!” I was yelling on and on. (It's so awful when you make such a big obvious mistake.) Anyhow, my son put his head in the sofa pillow and cried. So I went over to him. He kept turning away from me. I apologized. I said I'd made a mistake. I asked him if he wanted to fix the lights now and he wouldn't touch it. I told him I knew he was just trying to help. This brought more tears from him. He was crying hard. He moved away from me. So I decided not to move toward him.

If I move in too fast when he’s crying, it seems to make him angry, and things between us get harder. Instead, I stayed on the sofa and kept talking to him. I kept asking him if he'd come sit in my lap. Then he cried harder. I guess it helps him feel how alone he feels when I’ve yelled at him. After a few minutes of crying, he came and jumped on my lap! I told him again that I was sorry. Then I said that moms make dumb mistakes sometimes, and that this one had been pretty dumb. He laughed, and we were feeling close again. We wrestled and played for a little while. Then I asked him if he wanted to fix the lights. He said yes, jumped up, and fixed the lights.

— A mother in Berkeley, California

Read how another parent went From Yelling to Connection with a little support.

0 thoughts on “Yelling at My Son Over the Christmas Lights”

  1. Good job correcting the problem. It is hard and we are human, so completely understandable that things like this happen. The nice bit for me is that you were able to stay with him and admit mistake.Christmas is not an easy time for our kids or for us.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. My sons are older, but this scene has played out here recently too. I often feel rejected when my first attempts to soothe or hold an upset kid are spurned — I’m going to try to stay close next time and hope he can come to me when he’s ready next time.

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