Preview: If you struggle with yelling and anger in your parenting, you are not alone. Stop yelling and get back peace with these simple steps.
We always promise ourselves we will stop yelling at our children. Add these 5 simple tips to your parenting toolbox to help you stop yelling at your kids and gain back your patience. You can make good on that promise and bring peace back into your home.
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“Mommy’s Sorry She Yelled”: 5 Steps to Stop Yelling
Kids. They pull at your heartstrings and your nerves with similar force. They are precious and sweet… until they are jumping on the couch, or bickering, or eating Play-Doh, or any of the other things that kids do to drive parents crazy. Out of frustration, we yell and scream, trying to get them to comply. Then we feel bad that we yelled because we love our kids with everything that we are. We don’t want to yell at them, but we still need to guide them to be good people.
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By trying these few simple techniques, you can stop yelling and create a much calmer, peaceful environment in your home.
- Take a breath before you do anything– Before I became a parent, I worked as an EMT. Responding to life-threatening situations- well, it teaches you something. You are constantly dealing with people who are in the worst moments of their life. They are looking to you for help amongst chaos so you have to keep it together (much like parenting). I had an instructor who gave me a piece of advice that still holds true long after I left the EMS field. She said, “when you arrive at an emergency and things are really crazy- stop and tie your shoe”.
It doesn’t have to be a literal shoe. When things seem to be spinning in your head, you need a second to put your thoughts together so you can make rational decisions. This also applies to parenting. When Johnny hits his sister, try to take one breath before you react. Just one deep breath, or tie your shoe, or repeat a calming phrase- any momentary pause that allows you to center yourself. As hard as that is to do, it can inhibit an emotional reaction and allow you to respond more rationally.
2. Use positive statements in place of threats– As an adult, when someone threatens you, you automatically feel defensive. Children have the same instincts and tend to default to a defiant response. Try re-wording threats into positive statements to encourage cooperation.
For example, instead of saying “if you don’t stop eating the Play-Doh, I’m going to take it away” try simply rewording your warning to “If you would like to continue playing Play-Doh, you must keep it on the table”. Your child hears “keep playing” and of course they want to do that so they will be more likely to comply. You’ve said the same thing, just in a different way. Another example: “if you don’t put away your toys, we aren’t going to the park” could be “if you want to go to the park and play, you must first put away your toys”. Small changes in your wording could mean big changes in your relationship with your child.
3. Insert positive visuals– If you hear the words “don’t panic” what is the first thing you will do? Panic, right? Our minds process behaviors we can see. Adding a negative involves extra steps in processing information. When you hand your child a cup and say “don’t spill it,” what have you just asked them to visualize? They see the glass spilling.
Instead, try telling him what you want him to do, instead of what you don’t want him to do. “Hold the glass up carefully while you are walking”. Now the child sees himself carrying the glass of milk. Use observable behaviors. We can’t see someone not do something. “Keep your hands to yourself” is more effective than “don’t hit your sister”.*
4. Help instead of punish– Children are not small adults. Their brains and emotions are just as immature as their little bodies. They look to us for direction and help. Try wording that sounds as if you are helping them instead of punishing them.
For example, “I see you keep climbing on your chair. Would you like Mommy to move the chair to help you remember that chairs are not for climbing on?” Sometimes younger children actually do need something removed from their environment to eliminate the temptation.
5. Put tools in their toolbox– Our job as parents is to guide. By giving kids better options to handle issues that may arise, we are equipping them to be independent. Talk about how to handle situations. Try to figure out alternatives together.
For example, if your daughter takes a toy from another child, talk about what she could do instead: “When we want a toy that brother is playing with, what should we do? Maybe we can ask brother if we may have a turn when he is finished playing”. You may be surprised at your child’s ability to handle situations of his/her own after your initial guidance.
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How to be a more patient parent
Being a parent is the greatest gift in the world. Having to parent (i.e. discipline) can sometimes be the hardest part of raising children. Try to remember that they are still learning, they will only be little for a short time, and that they love you as unconditionally as you love them. Forgive them, forgive yourself, and allow room for error on both sides.
Try these few adjustments the next time you feel your temper being activated:
- Tie your metaphorical shoe
- Use positive statements and visuals
- Tell them what you want them to do
- Help instead of punishing
- Give them tools to direct their own behavior
By defaulting to the positives, you can guide your children into productive adults and still have a peaceful, happy home!
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Zimmerman, Connie and Hilly, Lynne. Introduction to Business Leadership; Tools for Leadership. University Access, Los Angeles, CA. 1999. Print.
I hope tips help you feel better equiped to stop yelling and set a tone on peace on your home.