More Ways to not Yell at Your Child
Here are ways to deflate the yelling before it starts.
Can you set your clock by the yelling you do when no one’s ready for school yet? It’s worth strategizing for any trigger, from school mornings to sports practices to weekly trips to Grandma’s. “Usually, the problem is that everyone needs more time,” says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. Some tips: Get yourself ready before your kids, so you’re not trying to put on mascara or find your car keys while also directing your children. And post lists of what each child needs and when near their bedroom doors for quick reference (“Tuesday: James needs gym clothes and flute”).
You can tell a preschooler to clean up the playroom five days running, and on the sixth day he’ll “forget.” That’s because he’s three, not because he’s defiant, says Dr. Kennedy-Moore, so yelling won’t do any good. You’re better aware than anyone of what your child can handle, so keep expectations at or just above his ability. For example, you know your five-year-old isn’t yet capable of neatly stacking his books on the shelf, but he can at least get them off the floor. Baby steps!
Be a role model.
The first time you hear your 10-year-old yell at his little sister (especially if he’s using the same words and phrases you often employ), you’ll have confirmation: Your kids learn how to communicate first and foremost from you, says Vicki Hoefle, parenting expert and author of Duct Tape Parenting. “One day, your children will talk to you the way you talk to them,” so remind yourself to model a respectful tone and words. Try silently repeating what you say (“What is wrong with you?!”) and then imagine how you’d feel if your child said the same to you. Ouch.
Give fair warning.
Sometimes you can’t suppress the urge to yell, but if you know you’re about to let loose, “tell your kids, and give them permission to leave the room first,” suggests Hoefle. (They’d have to be older than preschoolers). “This teaches personal responsibility for words and actions,” she says, because it tells them that we all have strong emotions from time to time, but that we still have to respect others’ feelings.
Feeling yourself heating up, say, when you enter the kitchen and see sneakers strewn across the floor and an un-emptied dishwasher? Before you scream for your M.I.A. kids, distract yourself, says Hoefle. “Have some strategies and items on hand that calm you down, like squeezing a tension ball, popping a mint or looking at your favorite family photo.” Doing so should quell the immediate urge to yell, helping you regain control.
Remember your role. When you resort to screaming, you’re forfeiting a piece of your authority.
“A yelling parent lowers herself to the level of a sibling or peer”
– Dr. Kennedy-Moore