A couple of weeks ago, I told you how I was TIRED OF YELLING all the time. When I wrote it, I was venting – looking for a way to yell without yelling. I had no idea how many moms would comment (I don’t get a whole lot of comments on my blog posts) and tell me how much they could relate. Turns out you, like me, want to learn how to stop yelling at your kids. Misery loves company, and I was glad I wasn’t the only one ready to pull out my hair and sell my kids to gypsies.
WARNING: Long post ahead! I usually try to keep my posts on the shorter side rather than the longer. But I have so much great advice I want to share that came from you, real moms, because I think it will be helpful to other moms out there in the same boat.
Before we get to that, I thought I’d ask my friend Dr. G, family physician and mom of four, why yelling at our kids is not healthy for them of for us. We all know we shouldn’t do it, but for many of us, it’s our first reaction. Here’s her advice on how to stop yelling at your kids.
Advice From Dr. G
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. G at Blissdom last year, and wish I could have spent more time with her! So here she is to help us understand more about yelling:
Yelling happens. If a child has never heard someone “lose it” in frustration at home, they are not going to be so resilient when this happens to them at school or youth group or at their first job. Even more important, they’re not going to have any context for their own frustration as they grow if they never see ours.
The biggest problems with yelling are, A. That is makes us feel lousy (and our kids sometimes too) and B. That it usually doesn’t work! So don’t beat yourself up about yelling occasionally, but try these tricks for making it a little less frequent.
How To Stop Yelling At Your Kids
There are three tricks to actually communicating with kids:
- If you don’t have eye contact you have to assume she can’t hear you. So don’t start talking until she is looking you in the eye. The part of her brain that can actually attend to your words is not engaged if she is focusing on something else. Some kids STILL can’t hear you until they have put down the toy, even if they’re looking at you!
- If you have to repeat yourself, get quieter instead of louder. The instinct to escalate our volume when saying something for a second time is almost inescapable! Unfortunately, as volume rises, so does blood pressure and frustration. If you get quieter she will attend to your words better.
- Kids don’t hear what you say to someone else. As a mom of four, I can’t begin to count the number of times I have said “Did you not hear what I JUST said to your brother?” The honest answer? “No, did you say something?” Kids can not be an example to one another. Just give up that fond wish now.
There are lots of other great communication tips. Keep it short, ask your child to repeat back to you what they heard, use funny voices… There are lots of options to avoid yelling if you can keep your cool long enough to remember any of them. Which is the hard part, of course!
Real Mom Advice: How To Stop Yelling At Your Kids
Now on to all of your advice! These are some of the comments I received about how to stop yelling at your kids.
Jenny, The Momplex – What helped for me is to use on *myself* one of those tools we’re always told as parents to use with our kids–a behavior chart. What’s good for the goslings is also good for the gander! So, I displayed it on the fridge. I would give myself a star at the end of each day that I didn’t yell (as one for each day that I didn’t pig out on the kids’ leftover food, which is a whole other ball of wax). When I reached 20 stars, I’d reward myself with something like a pedicure. Seeing on paper how much I was or wasn’t yelling each day (and was or wasn’t fattening up my butt), well, it helped me a lot with self-control.
Cindi - 1) Pick your battles. ““STOP CRYING!” Stop Crying isn’t something you can force someone to do by simply telling them to stop. Is this really a battle you need to participate in?
2) Give only one warning. “HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE!” “I AM GOING TO THROW ALL OF THESE TOYS AWAY IF YOU DON’T PICK THEM UP NOW” Once. Then take action.
3) Whisper. “DO YOU GUYS HEAR ME? WHY AREN’T YOU LISTENING TO ME? YOU ARE TOTALLY IGNORING ME! KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF EACH OTHER!” “STOP YELLING AND SCREAMING!” Pretty simple, they can’t hear you whisper while yelling so chances are they’ll stop to hear what you just said. (Reverse psychology.)
4) Seperate. They can’t fight from different rooms. (Physically.)
5) Propose and enforce family rules. (ie: No hitting. Immediate time out/loss of privelage.)
Leigh Ann, Genie in a Blog - When I find myself yelling a lot, it means they need my attention more to redirect them into something more productive. Also I sometimes have to swallow my instinct to yell and speak calmly. They may hear my voice when I yell, but they hear my words when I speak calmly at their level.
Jen – Sometimes when it gets to be too much…I stop what I am doing and I send myself to my room. Let the kids fight. “Excuse me. I am going to my room. When you are ready to play nice and be kind to each other, then come and get me. If someone gets hurt while I’m gone, you’ll just have to take care of it yourselves.” Then leave the room. Inevitably…with no one to pay attention to them…they’ll get bored with each other and come find you. Or they will get hungry.
I also use the “don’t come crying to me.” Comment. “I’ve asked you to play nice several times. The next time someone gets hurt, I don’t want to hear any crying or screaming or complaining. You can stay away from each other (play in different rooms) or play nice together.”
And inevitably..I also separate them (make them sit on chairs in opposite sides of the room) and tell them that there is no more talking or touching or playing for 10 minutes (or until dinner is ready). Or I actually tell them what they need to go play (H you go play with your art kit and R you go play with your legos) that separates them.
Fadra, All Things Fadra - I think the idea, as other people mentioned, is that you save your voice until you mean business. And then you talk like you mean business. I’m working on it. And my son hates it so sometimes when he doesn’t listen, I will calmly ask him if he wants me to yell and he says no. Aversion therapy?
Jennifer, Momma Made It Look Easy - I do the “if you can hear me clap once, if you can hear me clap twice” thing until I get their attention again.
Arnebya, What Now and Why? - At my 9-year-old’s school, there was a developmental coach who was brought into the traditional classrooms (she started out only working with kids with developmental delays) and she would say “put on your brakes” and the kids would have to stop and stand still. I think it had something to do with her not being me, you know? And the principal says something (I don’t know the language; I think it’s an African dialect) like AH-JO and the kids respond AH-JAY. I tried it once at home and it worked because they were surprised to hear me do it.
Greta, GFunkified - For the oldest, who’s 7, taking things away (like Legos or video games) really does help.
Rivki, Life in the Married Lane - When my four-year-old starts to pitch a fit, I just walk away. I don’t repeat myself or try to reason with him. I just tell him no, a short reason why and leave. Whenever they do something good I go overboard with praise. Call grandma. Write a note to their teacher. Send an email to their father. Whatever. I also keep a stash of dollar store toys to bust out from time to time, just to keep the positive feelings flowing.
Pragmatic Mom - Just keep repeating in a calm, firm voice. This is advice from when my kids were younger that they said their teacher did that worked for them. Calm Firm Voice. Sounds easy but it’s hard to pull off!
You can find even more great advice in the comments of my YELLING post as well. Thanks everybody for the advice and support! Do you have tips to share about how to stop yelling at your kids?