How one mother dealt with a stressful car ride to school.
Dear Hal, I have
to admit that when I first heard about ScreamFree Parenting from a
friend, I was skeptical. I have read tons of parenting books and none
of them really made any lasting difference, but I picked up a copy of
your book to see what my friend kept raving about. After reading it
this weekend and actually trying out one of the principles, I wanted to
send a "thank you". ScreamFree actually made a huge difference with me
and my kids today. I must say it really works.
I'm the carpool mom for my two girls and two other neighborhood
kids, all under the age of 9. They are all great kids, but sometimes
they bicker and drag their feet so much that I end up frazzled even
before my day has really begun. I know I've said or done things that I
really regret in an effort to get them to hurry up or quiet down.
This morning, we were rushed as usual, and my 9 year old
daughter, Jasie, announced to everyone as we were pulling out of the
driveway that her seat, because of its location in the car, was making
her nauseous. (She said the seat behind the driver, “leans to the left
so the turns are tougher” Thanks a lot!) She took off her seatbelt and
demanded that her friend Sara switch seats with her.
I started to think of threatening her and raising my voice, but
as I turned my head to bark out a ridiculous threat, something dawned
on me. So often in these tense situations, I was the one acting like
the kid when they acted up. Like you in the Waffle House story (so,
funny!), I was making things worse! So, I paused and took a deep
I gave Jasie a choice. I told her that she could either strap up
at that very moment, or I could pull over and wait for her to do it. I
think I was really hoping deep down that she would immediately just
pick “my choice”, but instead, my daughter crossed her arms and said,
“Ok. I still want Sara’s seat, because otherwise I might throw up.”
Part of me felt like laughing and the other felt like yelling, but I
didn’t do either. I just pulled the car over, turned off the ignition,
and told her and her friend to work it out.
The kids were stunned and sat in silence for a moment, then they
began to hash things out. At first, it was really hard to stay calm and
not say something, anything, to get Jasie to cooperate one way or the
other. My hands were on the steering wheel with “white knuckles” as the
anxiety shot through me about how I could be perceived as a bad parent,
how the school might respond, how my husband might respond to me
"blowing" this discipline event in the car. It took what seemed like an
eternity of patience, and calm. Finally, after the other kids coaxing
her along and me not saying a word for the whole time, my daughter let
out a huge sigh, sat down in her own seat, and strapped the seatbelt
on. I started the car and we made our way to school.
Thankfully, the traffic gods were also ScreamFree that day, and
we got there with a few minutes to spare. My daughter was in a
remarkably better mood and since I kept my cool, so was I. Normally, I
would have either yelled at her or caved in to her ridiculous request
just to keep the peace, but this time, I actually stayed calm and acted
like a grown up. Driving away from school, I let out this big cheer of
joy as I felt really good about the interaction, and my future as a
After today, I'm definitely a believer. Now I'm the one telling all my friends about you.