We all yell at our kids at some point. We are human. We’re not perfect, and this parenting thing is HARD! Yelling isn’t always bad - it’s the reality of parenting. However, yelling at your child all the time simply to blow off steam, for no rhyme or reason, is a pathway to disaster, and it needs to stop. But how? Here are my top tips to curb the yelling, and crank up the listening:
Understand Why You Are Yelling
The most valuable question you can ask yourself is “What is really the problem?” I’ve found that before mom and dad can break the habit of yelling, they need to get at the root of the problem. Ask yourself and your partner “What is it I’m really upset about?” Are you stressed about your job or the family budget? Did you have a fight? Do you feel unappreciated? An honest answer to this simple four-word question is key to cooling your temper.
Have a Strict Routine
Sleep is a pillar of the GIT Mom 7 step-system. If your current bedtime routine isn’t working (or if you don’t have a bedtime routine), now is the time to change (or start) it! And I mean now. The next time your family is together, explain to your kids that there’s a new routine you’re all going to practice before bed, and it will be the same all week, including weekends. It starts 30 minutes before bedtime. For example, brush teeth, wash faces, lay out tomorrow’s clothes, and quiet time with you. Then it’s lights out. No exceptions. When your child gets out of bed, quietly usher him back to bed, tuck him in, close the door, and leave. I know it sounds harsh! You’re not just establishing boundaries but you’re also breaking bad habits.
Just as important as a bedtime routine is the morning routine. We know that when kids follow a routine they know exactly what to do when, and feel safe and secure in their little worlds. For the child who seems to always be 10 steps behind everyone else, create a schedule and routine with him (key word: WITH) so he takes ownership. Mom's and Dad’s job is to make sure he has enough time to accomplish every task in the routine.
Study Your Surroundings
Yelling reinforces that you're not serious until you yell. This means your kids aren't going to pay attention to you until you yell. Instead, look at your child’s surroundings. What is he is doing? What stimuli is causing him to not listen? Often it's as simple as removing the distraction for a few seconds like muting the TV and calmly (key word: calmly) talking to your child.
Secondly, I want you to be really honest about the physical state of your home. Is it cluttered? Are there piles of toys and laundry? Is it impossible for your child to keep track of his stuff? Are YOU constantly losing your things? Just like a child only responding to you once you’ve yelled, this is a learned behavior. You’re the parent so this one is on you. Do some spring cleaning, tidy up the house a few minutes every day, and make sure your kids see you doing it. Better yet, have your kids help!
Ask One Question At A Time
Are you frustrated with repeating yourself constantly? Well try asking one question at a time and make direct eye contact with your child. If your child chooses to ignore you, whisper the question once again or use a funny voice to get his attention. Remember, you’re breaking your child’s habit of not responding until you yell. One client shared with me how she says to her child “Okay, well if you’re going to ignore me than I’m going to answer for you and we’ll see how it goes.” Then she stops talking. That communicates to the child that he better get with it or he could end up doing chores he really doesn’t like! If you start getting worked up then it’s time for you to walk away, get it together, and try again. Putting yourself in mommy time-out can help calm YOU down so you can continue to parent calmly.
Adopt The 5-2-1 Method
Remember your child moves a little slower than the rest of the family and that's ok! You’re helping him overcome the obstacle. The “5-2-1” method will help immensely. Give him 5-minute, 2-minute, and 1-minute warnings to help him transition from one item on the schedule to the next. For example, if your child typically brushes his teeth after he eats breakfast, give him a 5 minute warning before clearing his breakfast plate, "In 5 minutes it’s time to brush your teeth.” Then again with 2 minutes to go and lastly at 1 minute out. Use “5-2-1” for everything, all day long. Using a regular transition warning reinforces good behavior because your child feels you’re respecting his activity so he will respect what you need him to do.
The key to any yelling scenario is to listen more to what your children are telling you with their words and actions. I encourage my clients to see these scenarios for what they are – teaching moments. Teaching children good habits and teaching ourselves to be more active listeners. So take a deep breath, you got this parents!