If you have kids, then no doubt you’ve yelled at them. You’ve probably yelled at them a lot. I know I’ve yelled at my kids plenty over the years. But many parents are wondering how they can stop yelling at their kids.
Is there anything wrong with yelling at your kids? This is sort of like asking if there is anything wrong with eating french fries, drinking alcohol or watching TV. None of these things are “bad” unless you do them too much. Too much of anything is never a good idea, and the same thing goes for yelling at your kids. For that matter the same thing goes for yelling at anyone!
I personally think that we (parents) tend to yell at our kids because we are frustrated, and we expect our kids to behave differently. If you buy into my theory about frustration and expectation of better behavior, then there are only three ways to change the yelling habit.
- The first solution is to lose the frustration. If you are not frustrated, you won’t yell.
- The second solution is to change your child’s behavior. Obvious.
- The third and final solution is to change your perception of acceptable behavior. If you don’t define the behavior as “bad”, then you won’t yell.
The caveat to all of this is that if the first three “rules” don’t work, then maybe you should be yelling! I’ll never tell you that it’s a bad idea to yell, it’s just that you need to make it effective when you do it. If you abuse your “yelling power”, it will lose its effect. Your kids will start to ignore you and you’ll just be an annoying and ineffective parent. Besides, you’ll damage your relationship with your kids, add stress to your life and be in a crappy mood more often. That is not a recipe for a fun life.
So what are some of the solutions?
1) To lose the frustration, you often just need to have a more effective way of dealing with your kids. This is why I’m such a huge advocate of using language as a tactical tool to influence (read: gently manipulate) your children into doing what you want them to do, and stopping what you don’t want. I’m not going to give away the tricks here.
2) Ask yourself if your expectations are reasonable. What is the risk of changing your expectation? If your child insists on running over to the sofa with a cup full of purple grape juice, you have a right to expect better. But if you are getting angry because your 3-year old won’t stop talking, you really need to ask yourself if such behavior seems normal for a 3-year old. In this case, it’s normal and the “risk” to you of deciding that this behavior is acceptable is pretty much zero.
Take a moment and pretend that you had a friend, spouse, or a boss who yelled at you as much as you yell at your kids. Vividly imagine this scene in your mind. If, while doing this, you conclude that you would be really upset with the other person, then you ought to take this as a clear sign that you are yelling too often. Find an alternative or risk the long term consequences.
Whatever you decide, make sure you decide to keep the yelling under control. If you overdo it then you can be absolutely assured that your yelling will lose its power, and have a massive negative impact on your relationship with your kids.
Enjoy your children.
P.S. In my audio course for parents you’ll find all sorts of great language tools for dealing with the terrible twos and improving child behavior.