Despite the fact that I have my degree in marriage and family studies and have taken parenting classes and early childhood education classes I still struggle with parenting at times. It is no secret that one of my biggest challenges is Yelling in the heat of the moment. If you don’t believe me go read, I’m a Yeller.
I yell. I yell too often, and then my kids ask me why I have my angry voice out?
I’ll be honest at first it feels totally justifiable why I am yelling, I mean they aren’t listening, but then mom guilt comes in and I realize that I shouldn’t handle things that way and then I feel really bad.
10 days ago I committed to not yell for an entire year, and man it’s been hard at times, but I haven’t yelled… I have been super close many times, but then I remember that I am in control of my actions…
So… How Do You Stop Yelling at Your Kids?
First, Let’s Chat About Yelling…
In order to be successful at something we need to set ourselves up for success, so how do we do that? We need to understand why we yell in the first place. I have come to understand that yelling for me is me losing complete control of the situation. Therefore, I have to make the choice well before the situation occurs that I am going to stay calm no matter what, I know… Easier said than done.
Find Your Triggers
I have thought long and hard about why I lose it with my kids and 9 times out of 10 it is close to bedtime when I have a plan and things are not going according to that plan. With me being able to recognize my trigger I am able to make changes to allow me to not become as frustrated and allow my emotions to take over. I have learned to have some flexibility in the plan. Yes, bedtime in our house is at 9pm, but is there really that big of a difference between 9:00 and 9:02? 10 days ago I would have said, “Yes!” but after realizing to be a little more flexible our nights have become better, and I have less of a desire to yell…
What are your yelling triggers?
Recognize that Yelling Doesn’t Work
I know at the moment we think that yelling is the best way to handle the situation, but in reality, it doesn’t help anything and it doesn’t work. Yelling makes the kids sad, you get an “angry face” and it just makes the situation worse, followed by you feeling guilty for yelling at your kids.
I know this sounds ridiculous but think about those situations that make you the most frustrated and plan how to handle it differently the next time it happens.
For me, it’s usually when I say, “It’s time to get ready for bed.” And then like clockwork, my night goes to hell in a handbasket… I think the boys take this as a nightly invitation to start horsing around, tripping each other, bring out their accents from around the world, checking one last thing on their phones, complaining that they are hungry, and the list could go on and on as to what happens.
So now 10 minutes before it’s time to get ready for bed, I tell them we are getting ready for bed in 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes, when it is bedtime, I already expect that these shenanigans are going to happen, so when they do I am not instantly fired up and ready to yell. I also have planned my Positive FIrst Response, “Boys, I don’t think you heard me the first time, It’s time to get ready for bed. Please head to your rooms and get your Pajamas on and then brush your teeth.”
So to recap the changes I have made with planning ahead: 1. Thought about the situations that makes me most frustrated 2. Planned a Positive First Reaction and 3.Gave the kids warning that bedtime was coming up, rather than springing it on them when it is time to get ready for bed. These simple steps have helped me keep my cool.
In The Moment When You Want To Yell
It’s time to get ready for bed and the boys are now chasing each other around the house trying to trick one another. One is trying to pants the other and the other is screaming for dear life… It’s here! The moment we planned for… I am angry. I am frustrated. No one is listening and I am about ready to lose it. How do I calm down so I am not the crazy shouting mean yelling mom?
Talk Calmly, but Firmly Using Simple Phrases
This is when we need to use every ounce of patience we have and we need to take a deep breath and calmly, but firmly announce what is supposed to be happening. Do this with simple short phrases. In my case, I calmly, but firmly state, “Boys, it is time to get ready for bed. Go to your rooms and get ready for bed.”
Respond, Don’t React
Certainly, it would be easy for me to chase the boys around the living room or to yell at them when they are yelling at each other, but this doesn’t work because it is me reacting to the situation based on emotions. We need to respond effectively to what is happening rather than reacting.
Set Consequences/ and Follow Through
If talking calmly doesn’t work using simple phrases, then it is time to set a consequence. “Boys, if you do not start getting ready for bed right now, then you will lose your wifi after school tomorrow.” Okay… So in our house, this usually is what gets at least one of them bolting to their room because a life without wifi is the ultimate punishment. I know what the parenting books say, the consequence should go in line with the punishment. So if they aren’t getting ready for bed they should have to do it sooner the next day or early to bed… This does not work for us. We have a few things that if I threaten to take them away I can be guaranteed fantastic behavior immediately, the wifi being one of them. So find a consequence that works for your kids. It probably is a different consequence for each one of them.
If your kids don’t do what they were supposed to after you set the consequence, then you have no choice, but to follow through. If you don’t follow through your kids will now realize that you just like to give “idle threats” and that you really don’t mean what you say, so they will never believe any consequence you set, ever.
If you are about ready to lose it, it’s time to walk away and get a few deep breaths… I know you might think this is letting the kids win, but really you are winning here because you are recognizing that you are still in control of the situation. Most of the time when I walk away the kids usually start listening. If the problem is still happening when you come back then you are able to deal with the situation with more patience.
Walking away from a situation also shows my kids that it is okay to walk away from situations they are in before they lose it. It teaches them it is not okay to scream or shout and we can all take a moment to compose ourselves before dealing with the situation on hand.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
When the situation is escalating and you want to yell, using humor might be a good alternative. Making a joke and laughing can change the situation completely. When I tell a joke the boys stop chasing each other and start wanting to tell jokes. I then let them tell a joke and then they head off to get ready for bed. Problem solved! We avoided Yelling and they are now getting ready for bed, and bonus! Everyone is happy!
After I’ve Yelled
Let’s be honest… I yell… I feel like crap… I feel like the worst mom in the world… I feel like I am majorly failing… I feel like my kids hate me. So what do we do once we yell?
Tell your kids you are sorry, and really mean it. This is important to do this because they need to recognize that everyone makes mistakes, even their mom, and dad! It helps them learn how to apologize also when they are in the wrong.
Show an Increase of Love
Parenting can be hard! So can being a kid, trying to figure everything out. In those moments after we lose it, we need to make sure that our kids know they are loved. We need to take this time to give them some extra attention, spend some quality time playing a game or reading a book or give them some extra hugs to make them know how much they are loved.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up!
For days after I yell, I worry that my kids hate me, even though they show no signs of hating me… I mean kids are really the most incredible forgiving individuals in the world! It’s easy to think that we are the worst parents in the world and that everyone is a better parent than me, but that doesn’t help anyone! So pick yourself up and figure out what you want to do better next time! I know you can do it!
What have you found helps you to not yell at your kids?