Why do your kids continue to do the things that you repeatedly ask them not to do? When will they follow directions? WHY CAN’T YOU GET THROUGH THEM? Do you find yourself asking these questions over and over again without any resolve and feel that the tools you employ to avoid the yelling are hopeless?
When yelling (despite the validity of your message), your meaning gets lost in translation and the stressful delivery is what is heard and reacted to. Use these tips to avoid getting to the point of desperation, where yelling is the knee-jerk response.
3 Ways to Avoid Yelling at Your Kids:
1. Check in with your own feelings regarding the directive or statement. If you are stressed out, anxious, or upset, it is imperative to work on recognizing these emotions prior to engaging with others so that you will be less emotionally reactive to whatever the outcome. For example, if you have had a long day at work and are running late for a doctor’s appointment AND your child ignores your request to get in the car or complete a time-pressured task, recognize this as being a recipe for an outburst. Your emotional state plus denied compliance= a huge upset reaction (aka yelling).
2. Take a time out. Walk away from the triggering situation to break the cycle of negative thinking and the escalating anger you feel in hot pursuit. Recognize rapid breaths, flooding thoughts, flushed face, and other physiological signs that you are not calm and at ease. Stepping outside of the situation when you are not getting the desired response and engaging in mind/body activities will reduce your negative patterns of response and facilitate more even keeled, balanced thinking. Engage in deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and mindfulness techniques to reduce negative feelings. Take 10 deep breaths slowly, inhaling through the nose and out through the mouth, squeeze and relax all muscles (think squeezing yourself into a ball) for 10 seconds, 3 times in the rotation, and call attention to the here and now. Close your eyes, recognize the smell of the air, the temperature of your bedroom, the fabric of your shirt, the tremble of your breath, etc.
3. Work on thought-stopping/changing. Challenge yourself to recognize the nature of your thoughts, and pre-plan what you perceive your thoughts might be in similar future situations. Identifying what your negative thoughts might be when you are not triggered will help you better prepare for the ways you can best alter the negative thinking traps that perpetuate angry responses. Begin by identifying these negative thought traps and then establish more positive and balanced thoughts that you can insert when these yelling-precipitating thoughts occur. For instance, if your child does not listen about needing to be in the car in 5 minutes translates to you thinking, “My child never listens to me; he is disrespectful. The doctor will think I have no idea how to parent my kids,” identify more positive thoughts. These positive thoughts will keep the situation calm, Instead think, “I can clearly state the consequence and follow through if he does not listen, I can simply call the doctor and let them know well be 5 minutes late.” These more positive, stable thoughts translate into you thinking, “This isn’t a big deal; we will get there.” There is no use getting into a power struggle. Reacting calmly will make the situation more palatable overall (calm car ride, no screaming child, reduced road rage).
Yelling is a natural parenting response that comes from frustration, but at the end of the day, does little good. Practice these tips to use yelling less in your home.