Over the last few weeks I have received emails from mums talking about something they will like to change about their interactions with their kids and one thing almost every mum who communicated with me mentioned is that they want to stop yelling at their children.

Yelling is common with parents and it mostly happens because we feel overwhelmed and frustrated.  However the good news is that we realise that yelling hurts our relationships with our children and so we want to learn to get them to cooperate with us without having to yell at them. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Why do parents yell at their children?

Children often push our buttons and before we can put a lid on our emotions we let out our anger and frustrations by yelling at them. We may even sometimes say terrible things to them that we don’t mean only to regret minutes later after we have calmed down.Some mums may yell at their children because they feel it is the only way they can correct them or get them to cooperate. For those mums it is likely that they were often yelled at when they were younger so now that they are mums they simple apply the only method they know.

Effects of Yelling and why it’s a good idea to stop

You already know that yelling hurts your relationship with your children. Here are a few other effects of yelling at your child:

  • It scares the child
  • the child becomes more aggressive
  • It makes the child feel insecure
  • The child may see yelling as normal
  • Discipline becomes harder to enforce
  • It can lead to low self esteem
  • It may cause anxiety

As parents we want to be able to correct and discipline our children without making them feel insecure or without lowering their self-esteem. We want them to know that we love them without a doubt even as we correct or discipline them.

How to avoid yelling at your child

Pause and calm down:

When a ‘conflict’ has occurred and you can feel your temper rising, what you need to do is pause (hold your horses) and calm down. Breathe and remain calm -take a timeout to allow yourself think.

You may need a few seconds, a few minutes or maybe even a few hours depending on the impact of the conflict you are faced with. If you think you can’t address the situation right away without yelling, take as much time as you need until you feel better.

So rather than react right away tell your child how you feel and that you will talk with them when you are feeling better. For instance you can say ‘’I’m really upset about this but I don’t want to talk about it right now. You may go to your room, I’ll come and have a word with you later’’. This gives you enough time to calm down and you can deal with the issues later without having to yell.

You can do any of the following to help you calm down when you start getting angry:

  • Go for a walk
  • Drink some water
  • Take a nap
  • Listen to music
  • Close your eyes and breathe
  • Splash some water on your face
  • Eat something
  • Talk to someone who can make you happy
  • Look through pictures on your phone
  • Get some fresh air
  • Talk to someone who makes you feel good
  • Do anything else that can make you feel better

You don’t necessarily have to wait until you get upset to begin to think about the best ways to calm down. You can start considering different options right away – think about the things that make you feel good and use them when you feel your temper rising.

Think about the reason why you are upset:

What do I mean? I mean when you have managed to calm down try to figure out the real reason why you are unhappy.

Could it be that I got frustrated that my daughter wasn’t listening when I asked her to clean up her room or because I am having guests over and the house is a mess?

Did I lose my patience because my child is refusing to eat breakfast or because I need to get to the office early but she is slowing me down?

Was I upset because my son asked if he could get a new toy while we were shopping or because I had bought a lot already and had exceeded my budget and couldn’t afford to buy his toy?

Am I really angry with my child or is it a case of transferred aggression from my mood since earlier in the day?

Think about the real reason why you are upset and identify the issue so you can address or resolve it effectively.

Resolve the issues:

When trying to resolve an issue with your child it is usually helpful to do the following:

  • Consider different options or ways of dealing with that problem and the likely effects of each option.
  • Look at things from your child’s point of view. That helps you have a better understanding of their actions and resolve the problem effectively.
  • Act and speak to your child respectfully no matter how difficult it may seem at that time. You want to maintain a loving relationship with your child even in times of conflict
  • Decide on the best option to go for and carry it out.
  • In addressing bad behaviour speak calmly but firmly. Do not use threats or insults when speaking to your child.
  • If a form of discipline is required be firm but not harsh. Remember that the aim is not to hurt the child but to help them.

What happens if you yell?

We are human so that simply means that there are times when we may slip up despite our best intentions. If you find yourself shouting at your child, don’t beat yourself up. Apologize for yelling and let them know why you were angry. Your apology teaches your child to do the same when they make mistakes. They also get to understand the importance of forgiveness in a family relationship.

Don’t give up

Breaking a habit is never easy so it is important to know that this is not going to be easy in the beginning and will require discipline and self-control. But it gets easier and easier with time and before long you will realise that you haven’t yelled in a while. The best part is that this will help you build a stronger relationship with your child as you will both learn to control your tempers and speak to each other respectfully.