My decision to become an Orange Rhino


I've realized recently that I've become a yeller. Not at people I don't know, but at people I care about. Namely my kids. While they're very good at frustrating the ever living hell at me, they don't deserve to have me yelling during most of the time we're together. I've decided to do something about it: The Orange Rhino Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to not yell at your kids for a set period of time. Some choose 365 days, some choose 30 days. Here are the basic challenge details: This doesn't mean that you have to talk quietly always. You're allowed to yell "to" your kids in the case of emergency. You're allowed accidental snaps. There's one important thing to remember: Yell at your kid(s), and you're set back to day 0. Do not pass go, do not collect $200

A good way to look at what's yelling and what's not is to use the "Yelling Meter:"

0 – The everyday voice. The “life is good,” I just love being a parent and having these little conversations voice. Serenity and happiness ooze out with every word. Signs: you think to yourself, wow, this is a nice moment, I think I’ll cherish it and you’re filled with hope that the day is gonna be a good one.

1 – The whisper. The quiet, almost non-audible voice that our pre-school teacher uses that somehow gets attention, respect and follow through. Signs: you can barely hear it and it works like magic.

2 – The re-direct voice. It’s a clear, loving and patient voice that does not show irritation for the situation at hand but instead gently expresses that you don’t like a behavior, why, and offers a new activity. Sign: When you use it you pat yourself on the back for successfully following advice from a parenting magazine, for once.

3 – The firm voice (potentially raised). This is the I am starting-to-mean business voice accompanied with occasional raised eye brows and introduction of idle threats. Signs:  you are still calm and there are no hurt feelings, but you’re wondering when (not if) you’re gonna snap and you are growing impatient, quickly. 

4 – The “oopsie” snap. Stop! Alright! Ouch! This snap is starting to get nasty, but hasn’t gotten there yet. It isn’t a long tirade, it’s just a quick sharp voice where you stop yourself…it’s just enough to make the kids stop what they are doing for a second and think whether or not they will continue annoying behavior. Signs: blood pressure is picking up a little, but you are back to calm quickly and think “oh sh*t I really didn’t mean to do that.”

5 – The nasty snap. Darnit! Knock it off!  Cut it out! This snap might be short, but it’s filled with venom. Signs: blood is starting to boil inside; vocal chords are warming up, preparing for a long tirade; you think to yourself “oh sh*t” was that a nasty snap? If you think it, it was.

6 – The yell.  It’s loud. You know it’s loud. And it’s mean. You simply know you’ve crossed the line, there is no question. Signs: kids tears are a pretty good indicator, as are doors slamming, kids screaming back at you that you’re mean and they don’t love you any more.

7 – The raging scream. A notch up from “the yell.” It’s totally intentional and is filled with much more nastiness, hurtfulness and hysteria – on both sides. Signs: body shaking, often hard to stop doing it; results in feelings of massive guilt and shame in the screamer (at least for me) and definite feelings of shame, sadness, and fear in the kiddos; throat throbs afterwards.

One important thing about Level 7: You don't get reset, but you have to go -2 days as well. The whole point of the challenge is that yelling at your kids all the time just sucks. It sucks for you, because you're always stressed. It sucks for your partner because they have to hear you yelling all the time. And just as importantly, it sucks for your kids because you're just the man stupid person who yells at them all the time, instead of loving and cherishing your kids.

You might not be a yeller, but if you are, this might be a noble adventure. My initial goal is 30 days, starting today. Wish me luck!