Getting mad at your children isn’t good for you or your kids. Don’t lose your temper and learn how to stop yelling at your kids with this one technique.
I was having a bad day. The kids were whining about whose turn it was to use the blue truck. I felt my body about to explode, and… BOOM! I was yelling at them to knock it off.
I was yelling more than I’d like and felt guilty for setting a bad example. And it didn’t help when I later overheard my eldest yelling the same things to his siblings.
At some point, we’ll all yell at our kids. Maybe when we’ve been home alone with them and they’re being loud and obnoxious. Or we can’t seem to get them to listen. Maybe it’s when we’ve come home from a bad day and have little patience to deal with much else.
We might even think, I know yelling is terrible, but it gets the job done. My kids learn to behave when I yell. And I can’t seem to control it.
At first glance, yelling does seem to work. We’ve shocked our kids into submission. They know we “mean business.”
But at what cost? Now I know that getting kids to obey through coercion and punishment yields short-term results. In the long-run, we should try to raise kids who to want to behave, and not because we’re going to yell. We taint our relationship from mutual respect to one tarnished with fear and anger.
And the good news is, we can stop yelling. We won’t be able to cut it out entirely—we’re human, after all. But we can reduce yelling by a wide margin.
How? With this one technique:
How to stop yelling at your kids
You’re not doomed to yelling as a way to discipline or get through to your kids. You can respond calmly, even when you’re having a bad day. Even if you’ve always yelled.
An effective technique to stop yelling?
Find your triggers.
When we yell, we’re reacting. Maybe our kids do something, and the culmination of a stressful day builds up and we explode. We usually don’t yell on purpose or wake up in the morning and say, “Today, I’m going to yell at my kids when they misbehave.”
But it happens because of habit. Think about your daily habits. You get out of bed and look for your slippers. You use the same hand to turn the light switch on in the bathroom. And you reach for your face soap and always turn the hot water faucet on. You do all this without thinking. They’re habits.
And you’ve picked up triggers that lead to these habits. The alarm is your trigger to wake up and find your slippers. Going to the bathroom is your trigger to turn on the light. Reaching for your face soap is your trigger to turn the hot water faucet on.
The same happens when we react to our kids. Throughout the day, we’re bombarded with triggers, and some are bad enough to set us off.
Each person has her own set of triggers. Some of mine are:
- Getting upset over petty things
- Spilling a cup of water all over the table
- Being loud
- Interrupting me when I’m doing something else
- Repeating myself over and over
- Having a bad day
Once you’ve found your triggers, you can take these steps to stop yelling:
#1: Be aware
Think about the last time you’ve lost your temper in a big way. What set you off? What were your kids doing that made you mad? Which circumstances of the day made you lose your temper?
If you can’t think of any from the past, be aware of potential triggers moving forward. See which behaviors or circumstances make you lose your temper.
#2: Define your typical response
Once you’ve identified your triggers, define your typical response. How do you react when those triggers happen? Do you yell? Say something sarcastic? Drag their arm? Spank? Slam the door?
These are the reactions to your triggers. They’re the hot water faucet to your face soap. The actions that seem to happen out of nowhere, all on their own.
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Being aware of your triggers is important. Why? It allows you to insert a pause between the trigger and your habit. Only by being aware of them can you then choose to replace it.
A pause can be something as simple (even silly) as saying the trigger out loud. If your child is whining and you’ve spotted him whining, say, “You’re whining.” Or “You’re fighting over the same toy.”
Others pause by closing their eyes, holding their breath, or thinking of a motivation word or two like stay calm. That quick pause is enough to stop you from reacting to finding an alternative.
#4: Find an alternative
The key to stop yelling is to replace those old habits and reactions with new ones. The triggers will happen, no doubt. But instead of yelling, you’ll replace it with a more productive behavior.
To ingrain your new habits even further, define ahead of time what you plan to do when triggers happen. It’s like having an emergency plan long before you’ll need one.
You might tell yourself that if you spot your triggers, you’ll walk away. Take a deep breath. Lock yourself in your room for 60 seconds to calm down. Remember a fond memory. Tell your child you’re mad (in a calm way).
When you spot the trigger and pause, you can then insert the alternative in place of yelling.
Think of it as trigger > pause > replace the old habit with a new one. By the way, if you want to read more about habits, you need to read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (affiliate link).
We all react to our habits, not just in parenting but in all parts of our lives. We’re not stuck yelling at our kids. We’ll still succumb to yelling from time to time, but we can establish new habits to replace old ones.
By finding your triggers, you’re more aware of what’s happening. You’re more present. You’re able to respond instead of react. And yelling and anger don’t have to be your default way of disciplining your kids.
Get more tips:
- When Your Child Seems to Ruin Everyone’s Day
- Be Kind to Yourself
- Tell Your Kids You Love Them, Even when It’s Hard To
- 5 Things You Need to Do to Handle Your Threenager
- Do You Know What to Do when Your Child Acts Out in Public?
Tell me in the comments: What has helped you learn to stop yelling at your kids?
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