Inside: How to self-regulate your emotions, manage your anger and stop yelling even when your child is pushing your buttons.
I was a yeller.
I shouted at my son when he refused to comply, I yelled at him when he deliberately refused to play his piano pieces well, I screamed at him when he throws a tantrum over the slightest issue, I shouted at him when he shouted at his sister (see the irony?).
And each time after I yelled at my children, I became overwhelmed with guilt.
I regretted not controlling my frustrations, I reproached myself for not empathizing with my kids,
I felt lousy because I just can’t control my anger.
Is this you too?
However, after years of practice, and being mindful of my tone and words that I use on my kids, I am proud to say I haven’t yelled at my kids in months. It is a slow improvement, but at least there is progress.
*In this blog post, I am referring to the type of yelling that is filled with anger and rage, and not the stern warnings with raised voices or the good type of yelling during emergencies.*
Why shouting doesn’t help your kids to listen
“If I don’t yell, my kids will never learn!”
The science: Each time you yell, your child’s brain perceives the shouting as a threat, and that triggers his amygdala to respond: either to fight, flight or freeze. This impulse takes over his frontal lobe – and all his learning centers shut down.
He will never learn when you yell.
There is no way your child can reason or comply when he is overwhelmed by fear and other big emotions.
What does yelling do to children?
When we yell, it trains kids not to listen to us until we raise our voice. And it trains them to yell at us.Dr. Laura Markham
- Your child develops defenses against your anger and is less likely to cooperate. For older children, they tend to seek comfort from their peers or negative influences.
- It disconnects you from your child because when you shout, your child gets scared, and wonders if he can still get love and comfort from you – his primary source of protection.
- It teaches your child that shouting is the way to solve problems.
- It sends a message that yelling is ok when we have big feelings inside us.
3 ways to stop yelling at your kids
It is perfectly understandable why we do yell at our children at times. We love our kids so much we have high expectations for them.
Ultimately, we are humans, and when the demands of parenthood get the better of us, the stress hormones take over and make us lose our cool.
In order to stay calm, we have to intentionally self-regulate our emotions, change our mindset and manage our anger.
There is no shortcut to a happy, peaceful family. It all depends on us parents. It takes hard work to calm ourselves when we are triggered and stressed.
But it gets easier when we practice and repeatedly remind ourselves that we can handle matters without yelling.
Let’s take action and start with these 3 ways to stop yelling:
1. Calm yourself
- Breathe. By taking in oxygen to the prefrontal cortex, you are calming your amygdala, and using your frontal brain to think rationally.
- Pause. Let the waves ride past you, wait for your child’s feelings to run the full course. Stop any knee-jerk reactions.
- Take a time-out if possible. Tell your children that you need a break: walk to the window, go to the toilet, have a cup of water.
- Say a mantra to yourself: “My kids need my help / I have to stay calm / This is not an emergency / Yelling will not solve the problem … You can write this on post-its and paste it around the house to remind yourself when you start to get anxious.
I have prepared a summary sheet for you to stay calm during the storms, download it at the end of the post: it includes a list of mantras that you can use!
2. Educate yourself: your child is having a hard time.
Your child misbehaves or goes through a meltdown because they lack the capacity to manage the big emotions. It is not because they are being manipulative.
They simply need your help.
Knowing that your child is struggling changes your responses from punishment to coaching.
3. Commit to a no-yelling challenge
Take a vow and let your spouse or children know that you want to stop yelling. You want to create a peaceful, happy family and I’m pretty sure they will support you.
Draw out a chart and tell your children to add a star each day that you don’t yell.
When you are mindful of your words and tone, you can then take the time to understand what your child is going through, rather than to react immediately.
How do I discipline my kids without yelling?
I subscribe to positive discipline. I believe in guiding my children with empathetic limits. I allow them to express their thoughts and feelings, genuinely connect with them, and be firm with boundaries and rules.
The key to getting your children to listen and obey? Connect with your kids.
For those who are part of the free Positive Parenting Series, refer to PPLS 01 – 5 ways to turn meltdowns into teachable moments. Use the 5 steps to coach your child, rather than punish them.
When is it ok to yell?
During emergencies! When your child is running towards the road, exploring a knife, or almost walking into a wall, that’s when you yell at them to alert them during REAL emergencies!
Otherwise, there is really no need to express your rage by shouting. In fact, when you yell sparingly, it sends a stronger message to your little ones when you do get angry: “Papa is really furious this time.”
“What if I’ve been yelling at my kids?”
Its never too late to reconnect with your kids. Work with your child, repair the relationship and start connecting again. Your children don’t bear grudges, so each time you lose your cool, simply apologize and try again.
Be intentional – stop yelling.
If we are always yelling, getting angry, your child will get on through life thinking that yelling is normal, that everything is some kind of emergency, or the way to handle problems is to shout.
So make the effort to stop yelling because there are absolutely zero long-term benefits to it. I highly recommend you commit to the no-yelling challenge for a start. Let me know each time you hit your personal target of not yelling at your child!
Download your free visual reminder below: your child really needs you to stay calm.
Print it, or save it as a wallpaper especially when you have been yelling every single day for the past week.
Ahaparenting.com – how to stop yelling at kids
Pint Sized Treasures – 10 Effective Ways to Stop Yelling at Your Kids
Messy Motherhood – How to Stop Yelling At Kids, Once and For All