No parent WANTS to yell at their kids. That look in your child’s eyes right after you’ve yelled at them feels terrible, I know. I’ve been there too. But there ARE ways to break the cycle and to find a new pattern of behavior, both for you and for your child.
The fact is that every parent at some point or another ends up losing it and yelling at their kids. Every parent has a breaking point. Some parents reach their breaking point after weeks of built-up exhaustion and fatigue, while other parent reach their breaking point nearly every single day.
There are two key factors that determine how much you, as a parent, yell at your child:
- Your ability to calm yourself down in the moment when you are suddenly overwhelmed with anger or stress.
- Your toolbox of strategies to use OTHER than yelling in the heat of the moment.
Tip: The Positive Parent Within Ebook is the best place to start on your journey towards moving away from yelling, time-outs and punishments and becoming the more peaceful parent you’ve always wanted to be.
Acknowledge your past
In order to understand why we yell at our kids we need to take serious inventory on our past and our experiences with our own parents. Many of us were raised with parents who yelled, denied our feelings and inflicted irrelevant punishments upon us. It can be so easy to repeat this cycle with our own children.
Children who are taught to suppress their feelings with phrases like “calm down,” “it’s not a big deal,” “big boys/girls don’t cry,” miss an important opportunity to develop self-calming strategies. Suppressing and denying emotions is what causes us to keep things bottled up inside until we explode out of anger and frustration.
It’s the same for our kids, and this carries into adulthood when left un-checked.
When we – as full grown adults – don’t have the skills to acknowledge, identify, and deal with our feelings in a heated moment, we yell at our kids. It’s as simple as that. How do we break this cycle? How do we take control over our feelings?
Identify your triggers
Human beings feel before we think or act. Every action (and reaction) stems from a feeling.
Throughout your day, take inventory over your emotions. Notice what it is that is causing the anger to bubble up in you. Is it the noise of your child throwing a tantrum? Is it back-talk? Sibling fighting? Identify, specifically, what it is that sends you into fight or flight mode with your kids.
Once you recognize what your triggers are, you can be more attuned to what times of the day you know you need more support. If the late afternoons are a delicate time for everyone, plan to save your child’s screen time for around that time. Planning your day in advance knowing where you need to give yourself (and your child) more grace is instrumental in having a calmer approach towards them.
5 Positive Parenting Techniques To Use Instead of Yelling
Have realistic expectations of your child
All too often, we yell in anger at our kids for their inability to control their own emotions and behavior. Take that in for a moment. Read it again.
WE yell at our kids because THEY can’t control themselves. How can we possibly expect our kids to be able to control their feelings better than we can control our own?
The fact is, learning to controlling their feelings (aka self-regulation) is the absolute hardest skill your children need to learn. It can’t be taught by suppressing or denying their feelings. It has to be faced head-on.
Your child is begging you to help them learn how to control their emotions….and it can only be taught through YOUR example and guidance.
Model what you want to see in your child
Reactive parenting (through yelling, time-outs, and punishments) do not teach your child what they should do when they are experiencing big emotions. By taking a calmer approach, you model for your child how to solve problems calmly and effectively.
If you find yourself starting to feel angry, say out loud “I’m starting to feel angry, I need to take a break and take some deep breaths.” Sit down, take some deep breaths and when you are calm say “I feel much better. Now, how can we solve this problem?” This may sound ridiculous, but think of it as providing a roadmap for your child.
Your child is playing close attention to exactly how you manage your own emotions. By giving them a framework of what to do when they are experiencing anger, you model for them how to calm down without reacting.
Get to the root of the issue
When it comes to behavior problems, your child’s feelings are always the root of the issue.
Yelling, time-outs and punishments are our way as parents to get our children’s negative behaviors to stop as quickly as possible, but they never address the deeper issues. When big feelings go un-dealt-with for long periods of time, they tend to come out in bigger and more disruptive ways later on.
When your child explodes in anger, connect with them before reacting. Aim to empathize and acknowledge their feelings before diving into your own agenda. Don’t be afraid to bring them in for a hug. See them for how little they are. Recognize how much they need your loving presence more than they need you to “lay down the law.”
For example, if your child is trying to grab another child’s toy away you could say “You really wanted that toy. I know. It’s so hard to wait for a turn.”
By validating your child’s feelings, you show her that they are important, and that is the first step in her understanding that other people’s feelings are important too. Of course validating emotions doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding a meltdown, but it is always helpful for your child to know that all feelings are okay.
Solo connection time with each child, every day
Children act out when they are lacking a sense of connection with you. Make a point to spend 1:1 time with your children every day, even if it’s only 5-10 minutes. Read a book, take a walk, watch a special show. Whatever you can do 1:1 with your child fills their emotional love bucket.
Moments of connection send messages to your child’s brain about how good it feels to be close to you, and this has a major effect on their behavior. Children who feel connected to their parent are naturally more likely to obey their parents.
Consequences that are consistent, relevant, and age-appropriate
Instead of resorting to yelling, time-outs and punishments with your kids, aim for consequences that are:
- Related to the misbehavior
- Reasonable (based on your child’s age and level of understanding)
- Does not involve shame or disrespect to the child
For example, losing screen time as a consequence for throwing toys has absolutely no connection, and therefore it won’t be an effective approach. Taking a 5-minute break from playing and then requiring them to clean up the toys they threw is a much better consequence.
Parenting, and especially positive parenting, is hard work. There is no “easy way out.” There is no shortcut. Every approach takes effort and consistency. The only question you need to ask yourself is what approach you want your child to remember you using towards their mistakes and their misbehavior. What approach do you hope they take with their own children? Let the answer to this question be your guide.