Posted: Jun 24, 2013 6:00 AM
 
The Orange Rhino community is filled with parents who are choosing to not yell at their kids. Ever. Leading the charge is the Orange Rhino mom who blogged her way through 365 yell-free days. We sat down with her to find out what The Orange Rhino Challenge is all about!

The Orange Rhino is a mom just like you and me. Except for one thing: She's decided to not yell at her kids — ever. And she's done this anonymously and publicly. We spoke with the Orange Rhino mom to find out the scoop about her challenge and the 25,000 people who've joined her.

In the (humbling) beginning

It was mortifying. Right then and there I knew I had to change something. I had been staying calm and patient because people were watching me and there's something wrong with that.

Like many revelations, The Orange Rhino mom was hit with the need to stop yelling in a big — and humbling — way. She was living with her husband and four young boys in a house that was being remodeled. For nine months, she was surrounded by constant chaos, construction and people, and still managed to remain mostly calm. But one day, while enclosed in a room pumping with a sleeping baby on one side and three boys battling with the spare breast pump parts on the other, she lost it, and she lost it big. And right after that? She heard a voice outside the bedroom door. One of the handymen was in her home and had heard every single part of her meltdown. She says, "It was mortifying. Right then and there I knew I had to change something. I had been staying calm and patient because people were watching me and there's something wrong with that."

Many of us have felt this way. Reaching that boiling point, exploding and then feeling remorse and guilt afterward. What the Orange Rhino mom did, though, is unique. She challenged herself on Facebook to not yell at her kids for 365 days. If she was about to yell, she'd post that, too, with status updates such as, "I'm going to lose it. Don't let me." What she found in her comment section was twofold. The first was support and the second was camaraderie. She realized she had tapped into something that resonated, and from there — a blogger was born.

Why orange, and why a rhino?

The Orange Rhino mom's Facebook comments revealed something important. She says, "There was such a growing interest. People wanted to know how I was doing with the challenge, but they also wanted to talk about their own yelling. I realized that everyone else felt alone, too. I had unearthed this taboo subject." So one month after that first Facebook post, she decided to blog her way through this challenge because, "We parents have so much to worry about. I thought we could work on this, and release it, together."

She did a quick Google search for the things she wanted to stand for. A rhino fit because "they're naturally peaceful, but display aggressive behavior when provoked" and orange was the perfect complement because "it conjures warmth, energy and determination." And the beginning was as simple as that.

Big changes

I realized quickly that nine out of 10 times I was yelling because of my own issues. I was feeling insecure, there was clutter around me, there was something else on my mind, or my expectations of my kids were too high.

But the process has been more involved and life changing. She says, "I'm so much calmer now, and so much more aware of myself." This growth didn't happen by accident. She purposefully tracked her triggers, the everyday things that made her feel like yelling. She explains, "I realized quickly that nine out of 10 times I was yelling because of my own issues. I was feeling insecure, there was clutter around me, there was something else on my mind, or my expectations of my kids were too high."

Katie Hurley, LCSW child and adolescent psychotherapist and parenting expert, explains why this happens, "When parental stress is high, it can result in a revolving door of negative interactions. This not only creates a toxic environment for children, but it also increases the risk of depression for parents."

When I'd start feeling mad, my heart would beat faster. When I felt that, I'd yell into the toilet or the freezer. I clapped. I did jumping jacks. I whispered. I did push-ups. I learned how to control how I react to my body's reactions.

This is exactly what the Orange Rhino mom found and decided to manage. Once she tracked her triggers, she planned ahead what she'd do about them. She talked her way through some, "You don't want to yell right now. You're just tired." She left herself obvious reminders like orange napkins on the dinner table and orange Post-it notes that said, "Slow down" by her kids' backpacks to handle others. And she learned to respond to what her body was telling her for the rest. She says, "When I'd start feeling mad, my heart would beat faster. When I felt that, I'd yell into the toilet or the freezer. I clapped. I did jumping jacks. I whispered. I did push-ups. I learned how to control how I react to my body's reactions. This change helped me."

It also helped her children, and her relationship with them. This past year she found her family laughing together and enjoying each other more. Katie explains why this is, "When parents take a more positive and calm approach to parenting, children experience less anxiety overall. When parents lead with empathy and kindness, children are more likely to internalize positive messages and experience increased self-esteem. They learn to problem solve and work through difficult situations instead of covering their tracks."

Loving higher, and growing up

The Orange Rhino Challenge has grown into a community of more than 25, 000 members who show up and try their best to not yell. They're brutally honest with themselves and each other on their quest to, "embrace imperfect moments while aiming to love high." The woman behind the challenge has decided to stay anonymous for right now both to protect her children's privacy and to make sure every parent can see their story within hers.

I want to take something so heavy and intimidating and make it more lighthearted and approachable.

She says, "Our community is growing. It's such a supportive and non-judgmental place. I want parents to take things one moment at a time and know they're not alone." Following the group's trademark color and animal, it's also a place to laugh together. The Orange Rhino mom says, "I want to take something so heavy and intimidating and make it more lighthearted and approachable."


^
Opening the door to this conversation is the gem of this movement. Change is hard, but we parents don't have to go it alone. We can laugh, learn, grow and change together. To find out more about the Orange Rhino, check out her blog, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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