As parents, yelling is something we are all guilty of. It may be an occasional ‘lose your cool’ moment or it might be a daily occurrence.
The unfortunate reality is, even though it may seem like it in the heat of the moment, yelling is not the most effective way to get through to your kids.
Whether it happens occasionally or all the time, yelling isn’t pleasant for anyone. It’s often accompanied by feelings of parental guilt and children can experience mixed reactions, from distress to anger or even desensitisation if yelling is a common occurrence.
Yelling can become a habit and like all habits, can take time and work to break. Here are three simple techniques to help you tell less at your kids.
- Stop and breathe.
When you find yourself about to yell, pause and take a deep breath. Counting to three slowly as you inhale then again as you exhale will give you time to collect yourself and moderate your response. When you talk to your child in a calm, measured tone their own arousal levels are likely to drop and they will be more responsive to you.
- Set clear boundaries.
The old saying “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” is the epitome of child behaviour. Setting clear boundaries and outlining the behaviour you expect from your child will hopefully minimise the need for yelling. Formulating and explaining the consequences for inappropriate behaviour will also ensure you are both aware what will happen if those boundaries are crossed. This helps eliminate the likelihood of an overly emotive response from you in the event you need to address any issues.
- Keep expectations realistic.
Children are just that. Often we expect adult behaviour from our kids, which can lead to disappointment and anger from us and shame and anger from them. We all make mistakes – it’s how we learn. Handling your child’s mistakes with a firm but gentle response will ensure the lesson is learned more effectively. This rule also applies to your self. Expecting that you will never yell or lose your temper at your kids is unrealistic – you are only human after all! Don’t waste time beating yourself up or feeling guilty, forgive yourself for slip ups and move on.
Keep in mind that yelling can also be a symptom of other stressors in your life. Addressing these issues on a personal level can help improve your reactions and interactions with your child. No parent sets out to be a yeller. By treating yourself and your child more gently, you will be on your way to calmer, happier home.