It’s hard maintaining order when your kids run rampant over every request you make to them. If you have found yourself yelling to get their attention, then you’re not alone. But if you’re yelling at your kids, can it be doing other harm?
All parents struggle to keep the attention of their children. Some are for reasons of behavior, some of circumstance, and others may be those simple one-off moments. Identifying the situations that give rise to yelling is a start. More importantly, so is coming to know responses that don’t necessitate the need to yell.
Are you a yeller? All parents own up to doing it. And like we tell our children, because someone else does it doesn’t always make it right. In fact, yelling can be detrimental to a child’s development. Take a look in the mirror next time you yell. See that? That face is scary. Imagine your child’s reaction to it over time.
So, if you want your kids to hear you, lower your volume. Admittedly, it seems like the least effective way to rise above the chaos of family life, but it works. Save the yelling for real emergencies.
So, what’s the best way to stop yourself from yelling? Give yourself a time out. Time outs aren’t just for kids. They are also for parents, too. Why? Because they will give you the chance to look at any situation before reacting. Yelling can be an emotional response. And it often is. But by taking a step back—no matter how brief—you can pull yourself out of the moment.
Once you’re seeing the big picture, reassess. Only then will you be able to truly assess what is going on around you. Since family life is complex, most situations warrant a better look. Sibling rivalries, unfinished chores, incomplete homework, they all could stem from something more than a lack of interest. By looking around, you’ll be better prepared to respond by applying proper criticism without yelling.
Let’s admit it, our kids know how to push our buttons better than most others. Not only are they good at it, we may not even know they are doing it. Never discount how intuitive kids can be.
So get to know your triggers. Do they revolve around a certain event? Or, does it result from a cumulative piling on of stress? At the end of the day, you may be exhausted. Know that your patience may be thinner than usual.
Because every situation is different, you need to know your triggers and their circumstances.
Prepare to Parent the Situation
Sound odd? Perhaps. But preparedness can avoid setting off triggers. Tired at the end of the day? Try and have dinner prepped the night before. Look at the situations that trigger yelling. Is it getting the kids dressed in the morning? Set out their clothes the night before. Give them options. Take away the need to argue.
Understandably this won’t always work. But what do you have to lose? While it may not change their behavior, it will change yours. And that is what is important.
It’s Okay to Warn
How many of you remember your parents counting to three before responding to bad behavior? That was a fair warning that a response was coming. So, if you feel on the edge, warn your kids. Let them know that their behavior is upsetting you. By doing this, you’re tapping into the triggers of your response. You’re preparing to rationally address the situation with a brief time out.
In this circumstance, your kids are seeing you remain calm. While yelling may scare them into behaving properly, it won’t work forever. But watch your kids when you respond with a cool demeanor. Let them know a response is forthcoming. And follow through.
Likely, they will take to this response. Is it an invitation to yell? Certainly not. But it is an invitation to let your kids know that you do not appreciate their behavior in that moment. It is also a sign of your willingness to follow through with a reprimand that you are directing to the behavior, not the child.
Don’t Punish Normal Behavior
Parenting isn’t be simple because being a child is far from simple. Every moment of your child’s life is an experience that is building their persona. Recognize the behaviors that are normal for them at their age. Look at behaviors that you find upsetting. Then look at those behaviors again and see if they are typical responses to situations. If your child is exhibiting behaviors that are within the norms for their age and the situation, then address the situation.
Kids exhibit behaviors as responses to what is happening around them. Some of them are simply out of frustration. They may not know how to deal with something. Or, to many parents’ chagrin, it could be a normal testing of boundaries. These are all behavioral processes aimed at growing children into perfect, functioning adults. Yelling in these situations only makes the child feel worse. Instead, look to instruct them in how they should respond. Address their feelings. At a minimum, it will keep the two of you close.
As parents, we need to realize that our children sometimes push our buttons to gain our attention. Before you yell, ask if your behavior is the cause. Have you been involved enough? Did something get out of hand because you didn’t take the time to nip it in the bud sooner? Take these things into account. Because yelling can be devastating, it can have the same traumatic effects of spanking.
When Yelling is Allowed
So, can you yell? Yes! But know the circumstances. It’s quite all right to yell “Happy Birthday” or raise your voice to get a child’s attention. As a parent, you should reserve yelling for those situations. Yelling is an emotional response and therefore you should utilize it accordingly.
Before you yell, give yourself a moment to size up the situation. Because if you do, your kids are more likely to listen. Turn down the volume. Your audience may surprise you with how they accept your change in parenting format.
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Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, ages 8, 6, and 3. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the screen when the kids are occupied. She can be reached through the Contact Us page.