1. Plan ahead. Can you set your clock by the yelling you do when no one’s ready for school yet? It’s worth strategizing for any trigger, from school mornings to sports practices to weekly trips to Grandma’s. “Usually, the problem is that everyone needs more time,” says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. Some tips: Get yourself ready before your kids, so you’re not trying to put on mascara or find your car keys while also directing your children. And post lists of what each child needs and when near their bedroom doors for quick reference (“Tuesday: James needs gym clothes and flute”).
2. Adjust expectations. You can tell a preschooler to clean up the playroom five days running, and on the sixth day he’ll “forget.” That’s because he’s three, not because he’s defiant, says Dr. Kennedy-Moore, so yelling won’t do any good. You’re better aware than anyone of what your child can handle, so keep expectations at or just above his ability. For example, you know your five-year-old isn’t yet capable of neatly stacking his books on the shelf, but he can at least get them off the floor. Baby steps!
3. Be a role model. The first time you hear your 10-year-old yell at his little sister (especially if he’s using the same words and phrases you often employ), you’ll have confirmation: Your kids learn how to communicate first and foremost from you, says Vicki Hoefle, parenting expert and author of Duct Tape Parenting. “One day, your children will talk to you the way you talk to them,” so remind yourself to model a respectful tone and words. Try silently repeating what you say (“What is wrong with you?!”) and then imagine how you’d feel if your child said the same to you. Ouch.
4. Give fair warning. Sometimes you can’t suppress the urge to yell, but if you know you’re about to let loose, “tell your kids, and give them permission to leave the room first,” suggests Hoefle. (They’d have to be older than preschoolers). “This teaches personal responsibility for words and actions,” she says, because it tells them that we all have strong emotions from time to time, but that we still have to respect others’ feelings.
5. Refocus. Feeling yourself heating up, say, when you enter the kitchen and see sneakers strewn across the floor and an un-emptied dishwasher? Before you scream for your M.I.A. kids, distract yourself, says Hoefle. “Have some strategies and items on hand that calm you down, like squeezing a tension ball, popping a mint or looking at your favorite family photo.” Doing so should quell the immediate urge to yell, helping you regain control.
6. Remember your role. When you resort to screaming, you’re forfeiting a piece of your authority. “A yelling parent lowers herself to the level of a sibling or peer,” says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. You can’t demand respect from your children by shouting at them, but you can command respect by acting as a responsible figure in charge with a calm, in-control manner.
7. Keep the volume low at all times. Even when you’re not angry, you may find yourself yelling (“dinner’s ready!”). If you make a softer voice a habit (one that, with any luck, everyone picks up!), you’ll be less prone to yell at other times too, says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. One trick to try: Speak to your family members only when you’re in the same room whenever possible.
8. Think like a teacher. “The best teachers don’t take children’s misbehavior personally, but instead look at it as a learning opportunity,” says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. So if your kid leaves the empty ice cream container in the freezer or the load of laundry moldering in the washer, ask yourself: What does he need to learn and how can I teach him that? For instance, maybe he needs a note posted on the refrigerator door, or a consequence of un-done laundry, such as not having his soccer uniform ready for Saturday’s game.
9. Get close. Find yourself shouting up the stairs and across the yard? That’s too easy for your child to ignore, which sets up a cycle of you yelling, your kids dismissing and you yelling more loudly. “Parents often tell me, ‘I say the same thing 14 times and he doesn’t listen!'” says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. “That’s because he’s tuned out the yelling.” If your kid doesn’t comply the first time you make a request, she says, “walk over to him, get his attention, make eye contact and speak firmly but gently.”
10. Imagine an audience. If you’re shouting with the windows open, chances are people can hear you, but think about this: What if your boss, best friend or grandmother were in the room with you, says Hoefle. Would you yell then? Adds Dr. Kennedy-Moore, “We often treat loved ones worse than we do our acquaintances,” so try to listen to how you sound to others, and project your best self instead.
Spanking, research unequivocally tells us, is bad for kids. But yelling? Every parent does it at some point . How bad can it be?
Pretty damn bad, it turns out.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that yelling can elevate children’s stress hormones and lead to changes in the actual architecture of their little brains. And research also suggests it doesn’t particularly work. It can lead to more of the types of behaviors parents are trying to quell, instead of stopping them. On top of which, no parent likes yelling.
So what then? How do you keep yourself from losing it, particularly if it has become a habit? And what can you do to get your kiddos to actually listen?
Here are 5 expert tips.
1. First, know there is a difference between yelling to protect and yelling in anger.
“Anger itself is an emotion designed to change behavior,” said Dr. Joseph Shrand, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer of Riverside Community Care in Massachusetts who wrote “Outsmarting Anger: 7 Strategies for Defusing Our Most Dangerous Emotion.” “Sometimes we yell to protect a kid, and that is a different kind of yelling. That’s an alarm. You’re raising your voice to alert your child that there is a danger.”
If you’re yelling at your kid because he is about to cross a street without looking, or she’s about to touch something scalding, or you’re attempting to prevent any of the million other accidents kids seem capable of getting into on any given day, go ahead. Your job is to keep your child safe. Sometimes yelling helps you do that.
2. When you feel the urge to yell in anger, tap your forehead instead.
Does that sound like an odd alternative? Here’s why it’s worth a try: “Anger comes from the limbic system, which is the ancient, emotional part of the brain,” Shrand said. The more thinking, rational part of the brain is the prefrontal cortex, he explained, which helps moderate decision-making and how you behave socially. It happens to be located right behind your forehead.
To avoid yelling, you really want to “keep it frontal, don’t go limbic,” Shrand said. Which is why he recommends putting your hand on your forehead — even for just a second or two — and taking a deep breath in and out when you feel the urge to yell.
“Ask yourself, ‘What do I really want to do and see next? Why am I angry?’” he said. Just that quick check-in — and physical reminder that you’re aiming for a more rational, measured response to your child’s behavior — can help squash the urge to scream.
3. Or cluck like a chicken.
Carla Naumburg, a clinical social worker and author of “How To Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids,” likes this alternative to yelling: pause and do literally anything else. Take a breath, stay silent, hop up and down, put your hands flat on a counter to try and feel grounded. Or get silly instead.
“I have clucked like a chicken,” Naumburg told HuffPost, “because it helps get the energy out and because it’s so ridiculous it kind of snaps us all out of it.”
Another option? If you feel like you absolutely must yell, at least keep it vague rather than saying really pointed, hurtful things. “You can kind of yell without saying anything awful,” said Jennifer Kolari, a child and family therapist and author of “Connected Parenting: How to Raise A Great Kid.” Go for “Gah, I am so angry!”-type stuff, where you’re basically not really saying much. And you’re certainly not saying anything particularly mean or harmful.
4. Channel your best “teacher voice.”
Not yelling at your kids does NOT mean you let them off the hook for behavior you don’t approve of. You can and should totally speak up, but calmly and sternly. Kolari often likens it to being on a plane with turbulence: If the pilot got up and walked around to ask how everyone was doing in a very sweet, soft voice, you’d probably be confused about what was going on and what was expected of you. Likewise, you’d probably freak out if the pilot started screaming. If the pilot spoke calmly but firmly and made it clear that you need to put your seatbelt on right now, you’d do it.
When you scream and yell at your kid, they focus more on your anger than on the lesson you’re trying to impart.
“You undermine yourself when you yell,” Kolari said. “Find that authoritative voice — the one a teacher would use in the classroom. It’s far more effective.”
5. Remember: Repeating things over and over doesn’t mean you’re failing as a parent.
. it means you’re doing your job. In many ways, a parents’ role is to act like their children’s frontal lobes, which don’t fully develop until they’re in their 20s. They need to hear some things over and over until they really get it, Kolari said. So repetition doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re failing or that they’re being undisciplined. It means you’re doing your job as a parent and repeating the lessons they need to hear as they develop.
Also important to keep in mind? You will yell at times. We all do.
“If you raised a child who’d never been yelled at, you’d mess them up anyway,” chuckled Kolari. When they got yelled at by a friend, or coach or boss down the line, they’d just totally crumble. So if you feel bad about an interaction you had, apologize. But don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s important to have compassion for your kiddo and for yourself.
“When your relationship is strong — when your connection with your child is strong — it’s kind of like giving them emotional shock absorbers,” Kolari said. So if and when you do yell, they can bounce back.
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We all have times as parents when our kids are driving us crazy and we find ourselves losing our temper with our children.
So, how do we stay calm as a parent and stop yelling at our kids?
Well, let’s first acknowledge the fact that parenting anger is natural.
If you have never found yourself frustrated as a parent, then I submit that you may be superhuman and you probably do not need to read an article about how to quit yelling at your kids.
For the rest of us, our kids have probably made us angry at some point (many points) in our parenting journey.
We may have responded in a less than calm or patient manner and we may be feeling guilty for yelling at our child.
Perhaps we know deep down inside that our child cannot even control their annoying behavior.
There may be other issues at play, such as unmet sensory needs, ADHD, or repetitive behaviors associated with autism.
Nonetheless, on occasion we have reached the end of our rope and lost our patience (and our temper) with our child.
How can we be more patient with our kids when they are pushing all of our buttons?
The first way to be more patient with our child is to remember that they are a… child.
Some annoying kid behavior is actually age appropriate.
When our toddler clings to our legs and whines for our undivided attention, sure it can frustrate us to no end.
But, it is a necessary developmental milestone for kids to constantly want and need reassurance from and connection with their parents.
Tweens and teens can certainly drive parents to a level of frustration and make us so angry that we lose our tempers.
But, certain behaviors of this age group actually mirror that of a toddler.
They simultaneously want their independence but also crave the comfort and security of their parents.
The eye rolls alone can be maddening!
In the grand scheme of parenting, many of the moments that make us the most frustrated and angry are actually pretty typical and developmentally appropriate.
In my own experience, I have to stop getting angry at my children for some of the very same behaviors that I struggle with myself.
It’s frustrating to have a tiny version of yourself reflecting some of your most annoying flaws back at you.
This is when I really have to extend myself (and my children) some grace and realize that we are all imperfect humans.
The surprisingly simple mindset shift to help you stay calm while parenting
While searching for ways to be more patient with my children, I realized that the number one thing to remember is that it is not about me.
My parenting anger, my frustration with my kids’ annoying and challenging behavior, is simply my problem.
As an educator and a mother of a child with autism, I have learned that every behavior is a form of communication.
When you view your child’s annoying behavior through that lens, it’s a bit easier to be more patient.
I am not saying that you will magically become a perfectly calm and patient parent who never loses their temper or yells at their kids.
Let’s not forget that we are all flawed human beings who will get angry with our kids and yell at times.
However, when we pause to think about the function of their behavior, it helps us to reframe our own thinking and look for ways to help meet the needs that are causing that (annoying) behavior.
A surefire strategy to get your kids to listen more (so you can stop yelling at your children!)
As parents get more frustrated and angry with their children’s behavior, their blood pressure rises and the temptation to yell at their kids rises with it.
There are many articles that advise moms and dads to stop, take a breath, walk away or count to 10 in order to control their anger as a parent.
Sometimes these strategies may work to stop from yelling at your kids.
But they do not always effectively teach your children how to listen to you the first time so tempers need not flare in the first place.
What I have found to be highly effective, both with my own children and with children in the classroom, is to whisper.
Yes, you did hear that correctly. When I have the urge to yell, scream and shout as the frustrated adult trying to extinguish annoying kid behavior, I have found it really works to whisper.
You will be amazed how children stop what they are doing just to try to hear what you are saying.
An entire classroom will fall silent within seconds when one student notices that the teacher began to whisper.
Your own children will also take notice if you calmly whisper to them rather than yell.
This only works if you get their attention. It will not be effective if you whisper from across the room and they have no idea that you are even there.
Try this technique some time and you will notice that you feel more calm as a parent, but your children also tend to take notice and hear what you are saying much more than when you yell.
What to do when you slip up and lose your temper with your children?
There will be times that you get frustrated and angry as a parent. You will still more than likely yell at your kids some times.
What can you do when you slip up and are feeling guilty for yelling at your child?
You can start by apologizing.
And not the sort of apology that includes how annoying their behaviors were.
It is actually beneficial for your children to see that you are human and make mistakes, but that you take accountability for them.
When you model how to take responsibility for your actions, and how to have a plan to try to do better next time, you are teaching your kids important character lessons.
Share your plan with your kids for what you will do next time you feel yourself getting angry and like you might yell.
Some times you can even have a “do over” and reframe the entire situation with a different reaction (other than yelling).
This allows children to see a more calm and patient parent rather than an angry and frustrated parent.
Remember – children are always watching us. They model what they see.
So, when we learn how to stop yelling at our kids and how to be a calmer parent instead, our kids pick up on that calm demeanor.
Overall, it may lead to a more peaceful home and family life and less feeling guilty for yelling at our children.
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Mom blogger, special needs parent, coffee fiend, dog lover, and recovering perfectionist interested in balance, humor and self-care. I help women learn to give themselves grace while they simplify their lives and make the most of their motherhood journey, no matter what unexpected things may come their way.
How-To· Let’s Talk· Parenting Tips | Published: February 13, 2019 | Updated: February 4, 2020
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How to stop yelling at your kids – 10 proven ways plus a free printable
Most moms know this feeling. Your child just pulled the last straw and you feel the frustration and anger rising fast. You are very close to letting that momster come out with a roar. How do we control the frustration and hold back from raising our voice to our children? Here are 10 tips for how to stop yelling at your kids even before you start.
I walked into my bedroom and locked the door. It was one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. And to top it all off, the kids were not cooperating. I raised my voice at my children and regretted it immensely. I couldn’t stand feeling like this. Frustrated, angry, and helpless.
Any mom can feel tired, irritated, and upset, and that’s normal. But how do we stop those feelings from taking over and changing our entire mood, and the mood of those around us? How do we stop from upsetting the ones we love? If you’ve ever felt guilty for yelling at your kids, take a look at 10 ideas you can use to stop the shouting before it comes out.
Want this list in a printable form for easy reference? Join the motherhood tribe email list below and it’ll be on it’s way to your inbox.
1. Be proactive
If you feel the frustration coming, it’s time to clear your plate for the day. Of course, it’s not always possible, but there are at least a couple of things on your list that you can skip to avoid the extra pressure. Try to take it easy for the rest of the day. Take this step before you get to boiling point.
Breathing deeply does wonders! As soon as you feel that fluttering in your chest, close your eyes, and breathe. Breathe deeply and slowly at least five times. When you open your eyes, that rising feeling will be tamed.
This is my personal favorite. I have a song I sing when I begin feeling frustrated. It grounds me and takes my mind away for a minute or two. This gives me plenty of time to calm down and stay calm.
Whether you can hold a tune or not, it doesn’t matter. You’re not competing for a prize. You’re being an amazing mom. Sing your frustration away, and if dancing is your jam, add it to the mix.
Afraid your kids might think you’re weird? Great! It’ll stop them in their tracks and they’ll stare at you in amazement. They may even join you, and this will lighten the mood. Sometimes there’s no better cure than a Hakuna Matata tune.
4. Take 5
Walking away for 5 minutes removes you from the situation and gives you space, which will help relax the tension.
This is not always possible, of course. When your child decides to see if the dinner plate flies as well as a frisbee, it’s not exactly a good time to leave him to his own devices. But when possible, take a few minutes to calm down before reacting.
Splash your face with cold water. It sounds elementary, but it works. Don’t want to ruin your makeup? No problem, the next tip might be just what you need.
A very effective way to block words you might later regret from coming out is taking a mouthful of water. Here’s the trick: Don’t swallow it until you’ve calmed down.
Think back to when your child was a newborn. You counted those tiny little fingers and toes, you kissed those rosy cheeks. You stroked her tiny little head that felt like the gentlest velvet beneath your fingertips. You held her as she was snoozing on your chest, and breathed in that delicious newborn scent.
You were so thankful she was yours. You are still thankful she is yours. Think about how it felt to have this new little human depend on you. She depended on you to feed, change, and nurture her. She depended on you to soothe her cries, to rub her back to calm her.
She still depends on you for all that and more. Remember how it felt like to hold that little human in your arms and hold her again, even if she’s not that little anymore.
Imagine how your child feels when he is yelled at. Imagine yourself in his shoes. Maybe he had a rough day? Maybe something else is going on that you’re not aware of? Talk to him and try to see the situation from his perspective. Ask him questions, and if he won’t answer, just be there for him. Eventually, after he begins seeing you as someone who will listen without diminishing the importance of his feelings, he will begin to confide in you.
Kids go through hard things too, and if those things seem minuscule to us adults, it does not make them any less important or impactful to them. Make them feel like you understand, and you both will feel better.
Build a strong bond with your children. Remember, they are not an inconvenience, they are a blessing. They’re real people, building real character. Be their friend, their guide, and their confidant. Make memories with them that they will remember with fondness. Capture those memories even if you don’t feel camera-ready. What do you want them to remember about their childhood? A mom that yelled? I doubt it. I know I don’t.
10. Be a good example
We all know that children do what we do, and not what we say. If you want to raise your kids into adults that can channel their frustration in healthy ways, show them how to do it. Yelling at them when you’re frustrated or angry will only teach them to do the same. Teach them by example.
You may not always have a glass of water handy, or have the opportunity to step out for 5 minutes. But having a few of these options to fall back on will arm you for battle against your own frustrated self.
“But my child won’t listen until I yell,” you may say. I know how you feel, many mothers struggle with this. For ideas on how to get through to your child without yelling, read How to Get Kids to Listen – 15 Tips That Work.
If you think you might have a strong-willed child on your hands, read Raising a Strong Willed Child.
Next time you feel that dreaded feeling coming, and if you don’t ever want to see your child close their ears with the palms of their hands with words, “Stop yelling at me!”, try one or more of these ideas, and teach yourself how to to stop yelling at your kids. Take one of these steps to bring yourself back to center, and in the process, you will teach your children how to deal with frustration the right way.
But what if you couldn’t hold back and yelled at your child? No-one is perfect, we all make mistakes. But trying to be better is what makes you a great mom. Here are the steps you can take after yelling at your child.
To help keep the tips in this post top of mind, print them out and keep them close as a reminder. Join the motherhood tribe email list below and the printable one-page cheat sheet will be on it’s way to your inbox.
If your kids are the ones yelling and you’re struggling with getting them to settle down, check out this genius parenting hack: How to Get Your Child to Talk Quietly.
Tips for Discipline Without Losing Your Cool (And Why Yelling Doesn’t Work)
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If you are a parent, you’ve probably lost your temper with your kids and have yelled at them at some point. We parents are only human, and kids can sometimes be really good at pushing our buttons and challenging us with behavior problems such as defiance and backtalk. Yelling and losing our cool, in other words, can sometimes happen. But if yelling is an all-too-frequent occurrence in your home, it may be time for you to take stock of what’s going on and consider some alternative ways to communicate with your child.
Reasons Yelling Is Not Effective
There are several reasons why yelling is not an ideal form of discipline and is, in fact, a common discipline mistake. The most important thing to ask yourself is what your child is learning when he is disciplined in this manner, and how he may be affected by being yelled at regularly. Here are some reasons why you may want to lower your voice and calm down before you discipline your child.
You Are Teaching Your Child That Aggression Is OK
Raising your voice may get your child’s attention in the immediate term, but it’s important to think about what yelling is teaching your child. When you raise your voice, your child learns that aggression is an acceptable way to communicate. Just as spanking your child will teach her that hitting is a good way to discipline, your child will see yelling as something you should do to get your point across when there is a problem or a conflict.
Yelling Will Lose Its Effectiveness Over Time
Will yelling get your child’s attention in the short term? Yes. But here’s the thing: Raising your voice all the time can dull the effectiveness of yelling or using a firm tone of voice later on. It’s akin to someone crying wolf all the time; eventually, you would tune it out. By raising your voice regularly, you are creating a situation where your child will be less likely to listen to you.
It’s Not Respectful
How would you feel if your boss yelled at you when you made a mistake? What if your partner or a friend or family member spoke to you in this way during a fight? Would you feel defensive and hurt and angry or would you feel more inclined to hear what he or she was saying? No matter what the person is trying to say, odds are you will be more inclined to hear that person out and really think about what is being said to you if you are treated with respect and spoken to in a cordial manner.
Your Child Will Retreat or Become Angry
Human beings have a natural reaction to being yelled at. We either retreat or respond in anger. These are the reactions you will get from your child when you lose your cool, and whether or not your child’s behavior is corrected, you should ask yourself if it’s worth the price.
You Are Showing That You Are Not in Control of Your Own Emotions
Disapproval, disappointment, and displeasure: those are pretty powerful weapons in a parent’s discipline arsenal. But yelling shows your child that you are not in control–something you definitely do not want when you are asserting authority.
Yelling May Be More Harmful Than We Think
Recent research has shown that yelling may be as harmful as spanking. (Some parents, of course, choose to spank, but many experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, do not support spanking and point to research showing the negative effects of corporal punishment, especially when parents hit kids in anger.) Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that using harsh verbal discipline, which includes shouting, cursing, or using insults, may be just as damaging to kids as hitting them. They found that kids who had experienced harsh verbal discipline from parents were more likely to be depressed or exhibit antisocial or behavioral problems.
So how do we stop yelling, and what can we do instead to convey our unhappiness when kids misbehave? Here are some strategies to try:
Give Yourself a Time Out
When you find yourself losing your cool, take a few minutes (15, 20, or more–whatever it takes) to calm down and do something else. Then, you can revisit the problem when you can clearly explain to your child what you want her to do differently the next time and what the consequences will be if she does not follow your instructions. (For example, if she didn’t set the table after you asked her to do it 5 times, explain to her that she will set the table right away the next time; if she does not listen, she will have to clear it and help load the dishwasher, too.) Taking time to calm yourself down is a great way to discipline with a Zen attitude.
Make It Easier for Him to Not Fail
Try to see things from your child’s point of view. If you ask him to do something while he’s in the middle of a video game or show you gave him permission to play or watch, it’s likely he won’t respond right away; give him a 10-minute heads up and let him know you want him to stop soon. If he resorted to lying about something, find out why he did what he did before you react in anger. If he’s prone to dawdling, come up with ways to help him speed things up. In other words, set your child up to behave and figure out what went wrong when he doesn’t.
List the Things Your Child Does Right
The next time you are angry with your child, try this exercise: List all the things she does right. You can do this in your head while you’re cooling off. Then, when it comes time to sit down and talk to your child about her behavior and what you expect her to do to fix it, you can also tell your child about all the things you think she is great at doing, and why you expect her to be able to do better next time.
Speak Gently to Maximize Your Impact
Once you have calmed down, sit down with your child and ask him for his full attention. Speak in a calm and clear manner (and keep it short for younger kids) and tell him why you are unhappy with his behavior and what you would like him to do differently going forward. Just as you would teach your child good manners by using those manners yourself, the way you speak to your child will be the way your child speaks to you.
Never Insult Your Child or Use Curses
Whatever the behavior problem is or how frustrating it may be, remember that words can be a very powerful tool that can easily become a weapon. Just as you can build a child’s confidence with encouragement, you can tear her down with insults or curses. Be very aware of what you say to your child as well as how you say it.
It’s damn hard to raise a kid without yelling. The good news is that the occasional yell will not damage your child. The bad news is that if you’re constantly yelling, you just could be doing more harm than good to both you and your child.
Much of the available evidence suggests that yelling can have far-reaching consequences. Several studies have found that yelling can be detrimental to children’s social and emotional development. In one study, a group of researchers who analyzed the effects of yelling on children came to two interesting conclusions:
- When parents use yelling and strict punishments, bad behavior increases rather than decreases.
- The impact of yelling and strict punishments is equivalent to that of doing nothing. In other words, yelling is equivalent to ignoring bad behavior.
A second study found that strict and inconsistent punishment led to antisocial behavior. Yet another study found that children who were frequently yelled at developed lower self-esteem, were more aggressive, and were also prone to depression.
Beyond the negative impact yelling can have on your child, there are other good reasons to stop or at least reduce how frequently you yell:
Yelling doesn’t work
Yelling might get you instant results but it will not have a lasting impact on your child’s behavior. It tends to “immunize” your child to your yelling.
Yelling scares your child
How would you feel if someone yelled at you? Being yelled at brings out the negative in everyone.
Yelling teaches your child it’s okay to yell
By now we all know that our kids learn many things by observing and modeling our behavior. If you frequently yell, you teach her that yelling is an appropriate way to get people’s attention. Don’t be surprised when she starts yelling back!
You’ll regret yelling
Yelling is rarely the most appropriate response. Sometimes you yell because you’re tired, frustrated or have had issues during the day.
Many parents who yell end up regretting yelling episodes.
So what can you do when you’re up against the wall? How do you change your communication style and stop yelling?
Put an end to yelling once and for all: 6 tips to develop positive communication patterns
- Work on yourself
Do you yell because of your own situation, because you’re stressed out, or because of your child’s actions? Identifying what triggers your yelling episodes is a key step in changing how you communicate. Do you snap more often when you’re tired? When you’re running late? Be honest with yourself and write down all the things that make you yell.
- Set firm limits and be consistent
The thing with expectations is that our kids aren’t always aware of what we expect from them. Do you clearly communicate your expectations to your child? Is she really aware of them? Does she know what behavior is appropriate and why certain behavior is not? Does she know the consequences if she misbehaves?
Set firm limits and stick to them. Limits will only work if you follow through consistently. But setting limits is not about being rigid about everything. Choose the things that matter and be willing to let other things slide.
- Be a Model
“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
Limits are not just about your child, they are also about you. Your children are watching and learning. Be in control. Anger is normal but how do you express it? Anxiety is normal, but how do you teach your child to manage it? Everyone experiences stress – how you manage that stress teaches your child how to manage stress
- Regulate your emotions
Regulating your emotions means being aware of your feelings and expressing them in appropriate ways. Let your child know you’re angry, then let them see how you manage that anger.
Here are a few anger management strategies you can try out:
Tell your child you’re going to leave the room for a few minutes because you’re angry then leave. Do nothing. Take deep breaths and say “I will not yell” before you respond (it sounds cheesy but it really works!) Instead of yelling, drop your tone and speak lower than you would. Self-regulation studies have proven that doing the opposite of what you’d planned to do can have amazing results.
In the same way that’s it’s important to know what triggers your yelling episodes, it’s also important to identify why your child “pushes you to yell”.
Sometimes a child will “nag” in an attempt to get your attention. Taking off 5 or 10 minutes from your schedule to do something together can mean not having to yell. Listen to your child. Why is she whining? Trying to find out the reason behind her behavior can dictate whether you’ll yell or not.
- Communicate purposefully
If you’re in the kitchen and asking your child, who’s in the living room, to do something he probably doesn’t want to do, chances are it won’t get done and you’ll end up getting upset (and yelling).
Communicating purposefully means getting the message across clearly. Look at your child when you’re speaking (don’t talk to his back). Say your child’s name (rather than “guys tidy up!”). Get down to his level (look him in the eye) if you have to.
But what if you just can’t help yourself?
- Mind the words you use. Think of how you’d feel if someone yelled at you. Keep away from hurtful or humiliating words.
- Apologize, not for being angry, but for how you expressed your feelings
- Forgive yourself.
- If you’re yelling way too much, seek professional help.
How have you been able to raise your kids without yelling? What strategies have worked for you?
Posted on June 23, 2011
Despite the fact that I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and years of experience working with children, when it comes to this parenting gig I still struggle with things, just like everyone else.
One of my biggest battles is with yelling.
I yell. I yell way too often. I loose it and I rant and rave and yell.
In the beginning it feels quite good to yell, it feels good to let it out. It feels like this is the only way I can get my message across, the only way I can regain some control. When I begin yelling I feel powerful and totally justified.
But then I realise what I am doing.
I suddenly see and hear this angry person spewing forth angry words on the people I love more than anything in the world. It scares me that I could ever feel like is ok, and it makes me sad.
When I blogged about not wanting to regret shouting I was surprised at how many people told me they felt the same way. It made me feel a little better to know that I was not alone, but it also made me think. I don’t have all the answers (not by a long shot) and I know this will challenge me (a lot!) but I’m going to work on ways to yell less… who’s with me?
How to stop yelling at your kids… or at least try to
Before I Start Yelling…
It’s always easier to stop something before it begins don’t you think? And it’s easier to be successful at something if you set yourself up for that success. So I’ve been looking at how I can stop yelling before I am even angry. What can I do to change myself and the environment so that I don’t even get to the point of wanting to yell?
Find Your Triggers
After thinking about it for a while I realised that I often loose it and yell when I am frustrated by something other than my children. When I am feeling stretched by everything I have to do, when other things in my life are not going right, when I feel generally stressed and out of control, that is when the little things set me off into that downward spiral of yelling.
While the fact that I take my stress out on my kids was a hard truth to face, it is actually quite liberating in a way. This is something I can actively change. I can’t change the fact that four year olds whine and that seven year olds like to say “It’s not fair” a hundred times a day, but I can change how many things I put on my to do list. I can identify those things that stress me and work out ways to either let them go or deal with them better.
What are your yelling triggers?
A Positive First Response.
The idea is simple…. work out the types of situations that frustrate you and pre-plan a ‘positive first response’.
For example – It really pushes my buttons when my girls whine about how things are ‘so unfair’. When it happens I want to scream at them and tell them not to be ungrateful and send them to their rooms, except I know that won’t achieve anything and that isn’t the way I want to parent. So I sat down and I thought about it. I thought about why they say that, about how they are feeling, about what they understand. I thought about what I could do and say when they say that and I wrote myself a little script.
So now when someone says those fateful words, and I’m in that moment of wanting to yell I don’t have to think too hard to come up with a better response. I can just recite my little script… “Being fair doesn’t mean being equal. Everyone gets what they need when they need it, that is fair.” and hopefully not yell.
When I’m in the Moment…
When I am in the moment… right there… angry and frustrated and feeling unheard. What do I do then? How do I stop myself tipping over the edge and being the crazy shouting Mum?
It seems so obvious, just walk away, but oh boy it can be SO hard for me to do!
When I am on the verge of yelling I need to just take a breath and walk away. I don’t have to engage in whatever the problem is right then, that instant. It is ok for me to step away and come back when I have had a chance to think things through and find some rationality. If it really is a problem it will still be there when I come back to it, or perhaps it’s not such a big deal in the first place and giving the kids a chance to sort it out on their own is a fabulous thing.
Not only does taking a break give me a chance to calm down and not yell, it also shows my children that it is ok to walk away, it is ok not to fight, or to take a moment to yourself when you need it. I think that is an important lesson to teach.
Redirect Your Energy
When my kids lash out at someone or something I often tell them that it is ok to feel like hitting but it is not ok to hurt someone or break something and that they could instead hit a pillow or kick a ball to get that feeling out. I need to take my own advice.
After I’ve walked away I’m going to do some mundane physical activity. I’m going to redirect my frustrated energy into something like folding the washing, or cleaning the bedroom, or gardening. I need an activity that I can do without thinking too much, to give my brain a chance to slow down and think things through, and I need an activity that is physical enough to help get out some of that tension.
What would your mundane activity of choice be?
Make a Funny
Humour is something I’ve been using more and more of late. Doing something to make everyone laugh can really change the tone of the situation. When everything feels like it’s about to go to hell in a hand basket try telling a fart joke or singing a favourite song replacing the half of the words with ‘poo’.
“Baa Baa Poo Sheep, have you any poo?” Come on… who can yell when they are singing something like that??
It’s hard to stay angry when you are being silly and funny. It is hard to yell when you are busy telling a joke or acting the fool. Being funny can be enough to remind myself of the parent I want to be.
After I’ve Yelled
I feel crap after I’ve yelled. I feel like a big huge parenting failure. But there is still something positive I can do, even after I’ve yelled.
Saying I’m sorry, and really meaning it, is important. I don’t need to go into details and tell my kids what a terrible mother I am, they don’t need to hear that. But they do need to hear that sometimes everyone makes mistakes, sometimes everyone gets angry and says or does things they don’t mean, and that is ok. Even when I’m angry I still love them and even when I’ve made a mistake they still love me.
Cut Yourself Some Slack!
I can beat myself up for days after I loose it. I easily fall into that cycle of self talk that goes something like… “I suck at this parenting gig, why on earth did I think having four children would be a good idea, they deserve better than me….” But you know, that is not going to help me be a better parent. I am not perfect, I will never be perfect. I make mistakes, and that is ok. Instead of being down on myself I’m just going to pick myself up, dust myself off and try to do better next time. After all… that is all we can do.
This is something I struggle with and I don’t have all the answers so I’d love to hear the things you do to try and avoid yelling at your kids.
Yelling at your kids. I’m not proud of it, but I do yell at my kids sometimes, it happens. I feel bad after I yell, but in the moment it just happens and it seems like the only thing that I can do to make them listen or because I get frustrated with them. But it also makes the kids feel bad when I shout and I can see it by the looks on their faces. I make a promise to myself not to yell again and I am successful for a while and then without realizing I do it again.
As parents, we do our best when it comes to raising our children, but of course, no one is perfect. And when it comes to yelling at your kids, you’re not the only one that does it.
Here are some possible triggers for yelling at your kids:
1. They only seem to listen when you yell at them.
2. Exhaustion – when you are physically or emotionally tired, that affects how you react to your kids, and it can trigger outburst like yelling at your kids.
3. Frustration – you get so frustrated with your kids and their behaviour and yelling seems like the only way to react.
4. When you feel like you’ve lost control when it comes to the kids and their behaviour, that can trigger yelling as well. This article explains the connection between loss of power and yelling at your kids, really well.
Even though in the moment, yelling at your kids may seem like the only option, doing that can have a lot of negative impacts, especially if it happens often.
Here are some of the impacts of yelling at your kids:
1. Yelling at your kids can cause them to fear you and it can also cause resentment. These feelings can affect the kind of relationship you have. The thought of my kids fearing me is a good motivation to stop yelling.
2. Yelling at your kids can affect their self esteem because yelling at your kids is belittling them and possibly sending messages that they are not important or they feel unloved.
3. When your kids see you shouting at them often, they will learn that behaviour and that’s how they will start to react as well in situations.
4. Yelling at your kids often can lose its impact. If the kid’s are so used to hearing you yell, then if it’s ever an emergency or you are yelling because of danger, they may not listen or react.
Techniques on How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids:
If you truly want to stop the pattern of yelling at your kids, here are 4 different techniques that you can try to help you out.
1. Hair Tie Method
How it Works: Every morning when you wake up, start with 5 hair ties or rubber bands on wrist. Every time you yell, lose your cool or snap at your kids, move one rubber band over to your other wrist. The goal of course is to eventually have all 5 bands stay on the original wrist.
If you do lose a band, you can earn it back by doing/saying 5 positive things with your child like giving them a hug, reading a book together, having a dance party etc. Here is a list of more ideas . If you continue doing this, the hope is that it will eventually become second nature.
Photo Source: Parents.com
2. Get Closer Method
This technique comes from Lemon Lime Adventures and it’s one simple tip that she says works 90% of the time. Usually when you yell at the kids it’s because they are doing something like not listening or arguing etc. This tip says instead of just yelling at them from far away, get closer to them, put a hand on their back, get down to their level and speak to them in a regular or softer tone. Read the entire article here.
I found this checklist for How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids on Confessions of Parenting. It helps you walk through the triggers of why you yell at your kids and it helps you come up with a plan to stop yelling. Part of the checklist is what to do if you slip and end up yelling at the kids.
4. Hearts Method
One last method that I thought was really interesting to help stop yelling at your kids, was the heart method. Basically, you physically cut out a bunch of small paper hearts. You pull them out when things get you upset, you get triggered or want to react in a negative way. Messy Motherhood used the hearts and put them up everywhere she would see as a reminder to pause, take a breath and focus, instead of yelling. Bounce Back Parenting would pull out a heart at the time when things were going the wrong way and out loud, say one kind thing. She used this method with her kids when they were arguing as well.
Photo Source: Messy Motherhood
For myself, I know my trigger for yelling at my kids. It’s usually when I’m really tired or exhausted. It’s also when I’m at my wits end with them not listening (and after doing this research I realize that part of it is the loss of power over their actions.) But I don’t want to do it. Yelling is not good for me, it’s not good for the kids and I don’t want them to grow up thinking this is how you deal and react in life.
So I’ve started with the Hair Tie Method. I have 5 bracelets on my right hand and I will be moving them over if I yell at the kids as well as try to earn them back. I’ve been doing it for two days so far and no yelling yet. I’ve even told my kids about it and they are really interested in the idea. (I’m using bracelets that have words on them that remind me to be grateful.)
Just the idea of me not yelling at the kids makes me feel happier. Of course I know I’m not perfect and I don’t expect to be but I will do my best, and I really think we will all be happier as a family because of this. Yelling at your kids is no fun so if we can find a way to stop, we should, right?
Which on of these techniques appeals to you the most.
While you may think that shouting at your children encourages them to listen, this is not always the case.
Parenting experts claim that yelling is only effective in the short-term; more importantly, they caution against using shouting as a way to promote discipline and long-term behavioural change. Yelling at your child is actually more ineffective than you may think; what is more, it can also negatively affect their behavior and mental health.
Why is yelling ineffective?
1. Yelling is not communicating
Yelling at your child does not teach them a lesson but instead, instils fear. If they cease what they are doing and comply, this is due to their fear rather than their understanding of what they have done wrong.
2. Yelling can result in rebellious behavior
If as a parent, you act in an aggressive manner, the child will likely react in the same way. Furthermore, research has shown that children with verbally aggressive parents become violent and aggressive as adults; this is because children view their parents as the models they should learn from.
3. Children can become desensitized to yelling
If a child is often scolded, they will eventually become desensitized to shouting; this means that sooner or later, your child will no longer respond to yelling, thereby making it completely ineffective.
4. Scaring is not disciplining
As previously mentioned, yelling is not communicating and consequently, scaring is not disciplining. Being verbally aggressive and frightening your child leads to breaking trust as yelling evokes insecurity when children need to feel secure.
5. Yelling has psychological effects on the child
Children who are constantly shouted at, frightened and made to feel insecure, often have trouble learning self-respect. This means that your child may become more prone and susceptible to bullying as they may struggle to stand up for themselves.
When is yelling effective?
According to experts, yelling should only be used to grasp the children’s attention in moments of urgency or danger. Dr. Laura Markham suggests: “Yell to warn, speak to explain”.
Learn how to stop yelling:
1. Identify triggers
In order to learn how to stop yelling, you must work to understand what triggers your verbal aggression. Once you find out what your triggers are, you can begin to learn how to manage them.
2. Give warnings
When you feel as though you are losing your patience, calmly warn your children that you are getting frustrated.
3. Give yourself a break
Physically removing yourself from a situation by leaving the room is sometimes necessary if you find it difficult to exercise control over your emotions.
4. Recognize when you are at fault
It takes a big person to be able to look inwards and admit that they might be the problem. If you find yourself losing your temper too often, it is worth considering that maybe there is something else stirring up frustration.
5. Apologize when you lose your temper
At the end of the day, nobody is perfect. No matter how hard we try, we sometimes lose control of our emotions. The important thing is that if and when we do so, we owe it to those we love to apologize and admit when we are at fault.