“I can’t stop yelling at my child!” Maybe you can relate. Here are tips on how to better control your anger when you find yourself yelling at your child.
“He whines, and regresses to acting like a baby, and I just explode,” a friend confided. “Even after spending one-on-one with him, I resorted to yelling at my child so much that he got scared.”
I’ve been guilty of doing the same. During the weeks before and after the twins were born, I lost my patience with my three-year-old. I had gone from raising my voice two times ever to taking my anger out on him. I wasn’t exactly the parenting model (I write a parenting blog, for crying out loud!).
Stress. Loss of patience. Expecting too much of our kids. Lack of sleep. These are the factors that make normal, sane, intelligent women lose it with their kids. These all-too-common situations along with our own imperfections make us normal for doing so.
“I can’t stop yelling at my child.”
How then can we better manage our frustration when we feel like raising our voices?
Your child doesn’t always misbehave.
In the moment, it feels like your daughter never behaves. You draw conclusions based on your anger or how often it feels like she throws tantrums. But these moments are rarer than they seem. You forget the many times she behaved at dinner and played with her siblings. And all the other situations when she behaved well.
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Losing your temper in the past has never turned out well.
Have you yelled so loud your voice grew hoarse and you couldn’t stand the shock and fear on her face? Remember that feeling the next time your anger rises. Sometimes remembering how terrible it felt to yell at your child keeps you from doing so again.
Do her annoying demands matter when she’s healthy and loved? Gratitude can be cliche, but for a reason: it works. I’m not in the best mood when my babies cry, but remembering how healthy and happy they are keeps me in check.
Do something silly instead.
A few months ago, my son was in a grumpy mood when I felt my anger boil. But instead of yelling, I made a silly sound and laughed instead. Doing so not only keep me from yelling, it also made me laugh at myself and the situation.
We shouldn’t laugh everything off, but being silly can be a better alternative. Once you remove yourself from your reaction, you can then hold a calmer conversation.
Work on the underlying issue causing your child’s behavior.
Your child seems to complain about everything. She refuses to take her socks off or doesn’t want to eat breakfast. But think about deeper issues beyond what you see.
Maybe she’s dealing with a new baby sister and doesn’t understand why her life has changed so much. Or she senses you’ve been extra busy and distracted when you come home from work. Resolve hidden issues she may be facing to prevent her misbehavior in the first place.
Their fits are developmentally appropriate.
While we’re developmentally mature, we still interact with people who aren’t. Children don’t act up trying to make us angry. Instead, they’re handling their feelings in the only ways they can. They don’t have the tools to handle the emotions they feel. And if your child has a lot on her plate, she can feel frustrated and confused.
Give your kids a hug. Sing a song. And realize all they want is to know you still love them.
My son refused to leave the car and go into our home. I was alone with all three kids in the garage, with no way to carry all three upstairs. I felt like blaming him for his behavior. I wondered why he’s always making things so difficult.
Instead, I pulled him close and gave him a hug. He crumpled in my arms and felt safe and loved. And later, he calmed down once I sat him on my lap and sang songs. He just needed to know I was on his side.
None of these tips are easy. It’s harder to pause and redirect your anger to something more productive. All while the kids are at their worst. Practicing any of these tactics won’t result in warm and fuzzy feelings. They even feel unnatural—who wants to keep their voice calm when the kids are yelling?
But these actions will keep you from raising your voice and even lead to a learning moment. Yelling at your child can “work”: she’ll obey, be quiet and leave you alone. But yelling doesn’t solve the problem—it can happen again, or worse, draw a wall between you two.
Instead, use these heated situations as teachable moments. You’ll both learn patience, respect, empathy and emotions. And yes, learn how to stop yelling at your child and communicate better.
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