The real title of this article is, “Yes, You Can Stop Yelling at Your Kids!” Let’s face it, many parents struggle with this one. Parents don’t want to yell at their kids, and yet they do. Sometimes stress is high, sometimes parents are repeating old patterns, other times parents can’t get their children to cooperate. If you are sick of yelling and ready to give it up, here are a few steps to help.
- Check your underlying thoughts about what is going on just before you yell. What is the story you are telling yourself that is triggering your big reaction? Is your child’s behavior reminding you of some unfinished business from your past? Spend some time in mindfulness and explore what is affecting you. Be kind to yourself; there may be an old hurt that needs attention. Talk about it with a good friend. If you feel stuck, seek professional help. I remember having the thought that “something is wrong” when my daughter was testing boundaries when she was about five years old. Ironically, it was this thought, more than her behavior that would activate me to shout.
- Promise yourself that no matter what, you are not going to yell. You can experience feelings from A to Z, but that doesn’t mean you have to yell. Count to ten and back to one if you need to. Or do five jumping jacks before you allow yourself to speak one word to your kids. It’s amazing what a difference a few seconds can make as to what comes out of your mouth. And by the way, this can work wonders with the adults in your life too!
- Create a plan of what you will do instead of yelling. Ask yourself, what does my child need from me when problems occur? Connection? Limits? A snack? If you make a clear plan for yourself ahead of time, you will know what to do instead of losing control. If you need help with what to do, attend a parenting workshop and get some ideas. Write down your plan and share it with your partner or a friend. Track your results until you have created a new way of dealing with conflict.
Years ago, my daughter noticed immediately when I stopped myself from yelling and instead told her to go to her room. I was very upset and she could see me restraining myself. Instead of yelling I said, “Haley”, breath, breath, “go to your room”, breath, “please.” I will never forget her piping up with the response, “Mommy, I like the way you said that.” It was such a role-reversal to have her acknowledge my efforts at managing my behavior that it confirmed for me that I never again wanted to be in the child-role with my five-year-old! I stopped yelling for good and that’s how I know you can too. When you do, you will be on the way to creating a happy and healthy home for yourself and your family.