Driving back from the second day of school, my two boys started to tease each other and bicker. Determined not to yell at them and having just spotted the recycling center parking lot, I pulled into that lot, took out my book and started reading. Within seconds and without prompting, they had stopped, apologized to each other and to me. With three children, not yelling sometimes takes a lot of effort. It’s really tempting to let the stress build up, resentment take over, yell and thereby model the very behavior (disrespect, bullying, confrontation) I don’t wish to see in my children.
Two of my favorite parenting tools to stop yelling (aside from taking really really deep breaths!) are deciding what I will do and following through with calm confidence.
Let’s take a look at these 2 tools that can help you stop yelling:
Stop Yelling Tool #1 Decide what YOU will do
The key in this parenting tool to reduce yelling is to focus on your behavior, your decisions and your choices. By focusing on what you will do, instead of what your child should be doing, you will automatically regain a certain amount of control in any situation yet, you do so without being controlling.
This tool in action might sounds like: “If you hit your brother with that toy sword, I will place it away so I know you are both safe. I will return it to you tomorrow for another chance.”
That statement explains what the parent will do as well as when the parent will return the object. This way the child understands the toy is not gone for infinity (which feels very punitive) but simply removed for safety reasons. It also communicates that you have faith in your child’s ability to learn and do better next time.
Another example: “I am going start a load of laundry tomorrow morning. I will only wash whatever is in the hamper, in the laundry room.” This is a clear limit and states what you as the parent is willing and able to do. If your child chooses not to use the laundry hamper, their clothes don’t get washed.
One more example: If a child is supposed to be cleaning up their room but dawdling and you have limited time to help you might say: “I can help you clean your room right now for about 10 minutes, after that I am going to the kitchen to cook dinner and will not have time. ”
Notice the statements that are underlined make it clear what YOU will do as the parent.
Why is focusing on your own choices and decisions better than threatening, nagging or yelling at your child to change?
When you focus on your child’s behaviors and yell something like “STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHER OR ELSE!” and “OMG, for heaven’s sake why is there dirty clothes all over the place?” or “Come on, get cleaning already, stop dragging your feet! will you clean up!!” your message invites conflict and does not offer boundaries and guidance.
When you focus on what you can and will do you are paving the way for your child to hear, understand and accept your guidance while still having a chance to make his own choices. Your child can now chose to place the laundry in the hamper or have dirty clothes. your child can chose to clean up with your help, or do it on their own. These positive exchanges are what develop self-discipline skills. All while fostering trust, cooperation and learning.
What if you state what you will do and then your child dislikes your decision or becomes upset? Here is another tool for that.
Stop Yelling tool #2 Follow Through with Calm Confidence
After you have stated what you will do, it’s time to find and use some calm confidence. See, when you keep your cool, you are modeling leadership skills and making it clear to your child that you have confidence in your choices. If you are not confident about your choices, then why would your child be?
A calm, kind, confident presence is more powerful, trustworthy and motivating than any punitive action. And much more likely to cultivate respect than yelling.
In practice it might sound a bit like:
“I hear you are upset I took the sword away, you wanted to play with it. I will not let you hit with it, I am keeping you and your brother safe. I hear you are upset. I love you. You can have another chance tomorrow.”
“I understand you wanted to wear your favorite T-shirt tomorrow, you wish it was clean. I didn’t see it in the laundry hamper, I will not wash it now, and I will be washing again tomorrow evening. If you place it in the hamper now, it will be ready by Thursday. Yes, it’s not tomorrow, it’s not what you wanted. I love you.”
In this situation, while following through with calm, kind guidance, there was also a bridge offer that does not necessarily fix that moment, but reinforces the original limit that the clothes needs to be in the hamper to be washed.
Sitting with your child and supporting them while they are upset about the fact that you followed through, is most often helpful for the child to process and accept the limit while still feeling connected to you and capable of overcoming that situation. It’s important to honor your child’s feelings, and not even necessary to agree or disagree with them, but simply to be either present and willing to listen, or honoring their need for space to feel and process their thoughts.
Peace & Be Well,
P.S. If you would like to receive more parenting tools to deal with yelling, defiance, power struggle or in general more positive ways to parent, sign up for our newsletter. As a thank you, you will receive a printable page with three more parenting tools you can use right away.
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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.
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