Yelling has been called the new spanking. When I survey the parents I work with, I frequently am asked for help learning not to yell at your kids. Although it represents great progress that we don’t consider hitting our children to be acceptable anymore, many parents feel stuck yelling at their kids, while being aware that this is not the way they want to parent. Yelling can cause long-term damage to the relationship, and to self-esteem, and cause our children to ignore us for self-preservation.
Few parents want to yell at their kids. Instead, you want to calmly ask for what you want and get cooperation. However when kids are behaving badly, and emotions run high, it is so easy to slip into yelling without meaning to. Yelling often becomes a bad habit that you may not know how to break.
I speak from experience! When my kids were young, I had a lot of anger issues with them. In fact, I became a parenting educator to learn how to be the calm mother I wanted to be. I also battled depression, so my issues were serious. However I was able to learn not to yell, and I know you can too.
Here are three simple, but powerful, steps:
1. Set the intention and post it where you and others can see it.
2. Learn how to reduce your frustration and overall stress.
3. Learn tools to help you to make better choices in the heat of the moment.
Set the Intention
The first key to learning not to yell is to set the intention. It may sound simple, but if you don’t clearly articulate that you intend to stop yelling, you are highly unlikely to stop. As Stephen Covey and so many other thought leaders have said, we need to begin with the end clearly in mind.
Even more powerful than saying the words is to write it down. Post your declaration on your fridge, alone with the reminder that change is a process, and not an event. If you are patient with yourself, you will change. By posting your commitment where you will regularly see it, as well as others, you will be much more committed and feel much more accountable to follow through. That is crucial because change can be hard at first, so you need the reminder and the pressure to follow through.
Reduce your Overall Frustration and Stress
Second, you need to start learning tools that will decrease your frustration levels overall, and help you in the heat of the moment to make better choices. Many parents, especially moms, are not great at self-care. Yet you can’t be the best parent to your kids if you aren’t taking care of yourself. If you have issues with mental health, or physical health, take care of those first. (See my posts on mood management, such as my post on Mood Management for Moms, for help with depression and anxiety).
Learn Tools to Help you in the Heat of the Moment
Along with self-care, you need tools in the moment to help you stop yelling. One powerful but easily dismissed tool is the power of breathing deeply. For more about this tool, check out this post. Deep breathing can help you in so many situations to return to the present, where you have power to make better choices.
Throughout your journey to becoming a scream free parent, to use Hal Runkel’s phrase, be patient with yourself. Change takes time, and you are showing your children that they too can change by your example. If you find you aren’t making much progress, look for ways to get more support. Find other parents to talk with, take a local or online parenting class, or find a parenting coach to work with. I’d be happy to assist you with either the parenting class or the coaching. It is so liberating to learn how not to yell at your kids, and it is a gift I love helping you to give yourself.
If enough people request it, I’ll be happy to share my powerful interview with Hal Runkel, the best-selling author of ScreamFree Parenting. Comment and share this post below, and if we get over 20 likes on this post, I’ll post the interview! Also this is the perfect place to declare your intention to be a scream free parent.