I read a lot about anger management for moms, and I watch a lot of videos on the topic as well. I took a lot of time to learn how to stop yelling, and it was worth it. My life is more peaceful now, and my kids are much happier.
Did you know yelling generates fear, not respect? Yelling at your child can actually be a form of bullying, when you think about it like that. Ouch.
Research suggests that yelling at kids can be just as harmful as hitting them; in a two-year study, effects from harsh physical and verbal discipline were found to be frighteningly similar. A child who is yelled at is more likely to exhibit problem behavior, thereby eliciting more yelling.
HOW TO STOP YELLING
The other day, I saw a blog post where the woman described this “awful” situation where her kids were being, well, kids, and she yelled. She said “will everyone just SHUT UP, for goodness sake!” and all of her kids burst out in tears… and so did she. This was described as her breaking point, basically.
Let me tell you what. If your breaking point was raising your voice a little when you were overwhelmed, we are not the same type of mom.
I've had to bite my tongue not to cuss my kids out at times.
I've had to walk into the other room so I wouldn't SCREAM at the top of my lungs.
I've lost my damn mind and thrown a fit on the floor with my child in the grocery store.
I was that mom, and I have no shame in admitting it… because I've become a better mom.
Why Are You Yelling?
The first step to stop doing something is to figure out why you're doing it in the first place. Why are you yelling? Obviously because someone pissed you off, or the kids spilled milk… again, or, or, or…
Here's a question to ask yourself: Am I yelling out of habit?
When I asked myself this question, it was like a punch in the gut. I realized it was normal for me to yell. It was my immediate “go to” when something didn't go exactly as planned.
While my kids were toddlers, I was a single mom. I didn't yell much at all because I practiced positive parenting that I learned from my job at Head Start. I met someone and they became a co-parent with me. Within a year, they were yelling… constantly. I honestly didn't even realize what was happening until it had been going on for quite some time, and somewhere in the mix, I became a yeller, too.
I was embarrassed and anxious about being the mom that yelled, but it was such a cycle that I had no idea how to break. Plus, the person I was co-parenting with was screaming about everything so it really hyped up the negative energy in an awful way. Thankfully, my kids and I escaped that relationship but it taught me a lot during that period of time.
How to fix it: When you find yourself getting angry (sometimes it creeps up, sometimes it's a surprise attack), take a moment to connect with why you're angry.
Are you a control freak? Me, too. Do you realize that yelling is losing control?
Hmmm. A control freak that yells. That's an oxymoron.
You can't be a control freak and yell.
Do you want to have control or do you want your kids to have control?
If you yell, not only does the other person “win”, they have made you their puppet.
Do you like being a puppet? I don't.
When I realized that me getting so angry that I yelled was just my kids being Puppet Masters, I looked at it all a liiiittttle differently. Are your kids training you, or are you training them?
Be clear about what you can and cannot control. Some things are out of our control, that's a fact. Setting clear expectations and boundaries with yourself about what you can control is one key to keeping your cool.
What you cannot control: your child's temper tantrum.
What you can control: how you react to said temper tantrum.
What you cannot control: your child's mental health issues, or your own.
What you can control: how you handle these issues.
What you cannot control: your natural response of anger.
What you can control: how – or if – you show that anger.
Enhance Your Calm
This is a quote from my favorite movie ever, Demolition Man. “Enhance your calm, John Spartan”.
He responds, “I've had it with enhancing my calm”. Me too, John Spartan, me too.
This is how I feel some days when my kids are testing me, but I know enhancing my calm is the only way I can prevent my anger from turning into a full-on blow up.
Read that again. It's the only way *I* can prevent my anger from turning into something more. I make the choice to be angry or to stay calm.
How to Enhance Your Calm
I learned this from Live on Purpose TV.
Maintain a calm voice.
Maintain a calm face.
Maintain a calm body.
When you feel yourself getting angry, hit the pause button and breathe.
Your child is an emotional mirror. If you're having a bad day, chances are they're going to be off the wall crazy and make it worse. This increases your anxiety and frustration, increases your chance of yelling, increases the negative energy in your entire house!
Give yourself – and your child – a moment to reflect by calming yourself before reacting to anything.
Make a Choice: Love or Hate
As I said above, it's 100% up to me whether I respond with anger or I enhance my calm.
Do you love your kids? That answer is easy, right? The answer to the next question should be easy too, then.
When you're angry, should you respond with love – or hate?
Easier said than done, yes, but the right thing to do – the right thing for you and your kids – is to respond with love every. single. time.
Teach Your Child You Mean What You Say
Do your kids listen to your instructions the first time you say it? Of course they don't. If they did, you wouldn't have to yell, right?
If you haven't watched videos about the Nurtured Heart Approach yet, I highly recommend it. This approach is what got me to finally calm down. To finally stop letting my anxiety take over my parenting.
Your child hears you say it's time to dump the trash. You say it in a calm tone. You don't want a fight, you're prepared to stay calm. You've done everything right.
“It's time for you to take out the trash.”
Your child ignores you, or maybe they grunt or roll their eyes.
“I'm serious. I said take out the trash. Now.”
Same response. Or similar, at least.
“Dump the damn trash or you're grounded from video games for a month!”
Child scrambles to dump the trash. “You don't have to yell, GEEZ!”
Does this sound familiar? Learning how to get kids to listen without yelling is the most important step in learning how to stop yelling!
Stop giving your child warning after warning. Stop spewing empty threat after empty threat. Stop over-disciplining because of your lack of follow through.
You're at the grocery store and your kid's being an asshole. You say something along the lines of, “come with me right now or I'm leaving you here.” Unless you're actually okay with leaving your child at the store, don't say these things!
Set Your Child Up for Success
Setting your child up for success will reduce the amount you yell dramatically.
Give them two choices, and be okay with each of the choices.
Don't say “are you going to put your shoes on, or what?” because “or what” shouldn't be an option.
“Put your shoes on or else” is also a terrible way to phrase it because then they're naturally wondering what “or else” means and are going to push you to find out. Cue yelling. Again.
“You can put your shoes on first, or I can help you put them on”. “You can put your shoes on first, or your shirt on first. Your choice.”
I like to make it a game when it comes to them getting tasks done on time. Hurry, hurry, hurry! Win, win, win!
Here are a few examples of choices I've given with my daughter:
Do you want to do the dishes first, or your schoolwork first? Giving her a chance to do whichever one she wants first makes her the one in control, and she loves that. She still gets both tasks complete, in the order she chooses. If she hates doing the dishes, she may hurry up and get them out of the way. Or, she can choose to do the more enjoyable task of schoolwork first. I'm okay with either choice.
“You can take the trash out now or in 15 minutes.” This works well with her because she is the type of kid that loves a countdown. If your child is flat out defiant and won't hop up and do the chore after the 15 minute mark, don't use this one!
Unclear choices like “or else” or “or what” are not setting your child up for success. Giving them small wins and celebrating even the tiniest of obedience is going to help you both get on the right track to a more positive home.
Separate Your Emotions from Your Discipline
Clear expectations, boundaries, and consequences are a must. Children thrive on structure, and if you're going at this parenting thing all willy nilly, shit's gonna be tough. Well, tougher than it has to be.
When parents spank their children, it's out of pure frustration and the inability to process their own emotions in the moment. It's a very animalistic, cave man type approach, and it doesn't work. Especially if you have an atypical child, a child that has autism or ODD or a mixture of mental health and behavioral issues, spanking definitely isn't the answer.
If you're a parent who has spanked or yelled out of frustration, this tip is for you:
Treat discipline like a business transaction.
There are rules and consequences, and that's that. Of course you don't have to be robotic about it, but until you can control your emotions, follow an exact formula.
Rule is broken, consequence is given. Period. There is no bargaining, there are no warnings or empty threats. It is what it is. Business.
NHA does a great job of explaining why we should give zero energy to discipline. Our kids want our attention. No matter how much we think we are giving them, we almost always give them more attention when they're making poor decisions.
The Bottom Line: You Can Stop Yelling
You have a choice to yell or not. Maybe you've convinced yourself that the kids “make” you yell, but you're not a puppet and you're not a robot. Yelling is a conscious decision that sometimes turns into a habit.
Coming up with solutions before the problems arise will help you minimize – and then eliminate – the feeling that you need to yell to get your point across.
Challenge yourself to go one hour without yelling.
Then one day. Then one week. You don't have to be perfect, none of us are, but you'll be well on your way to peace if you can challenge yourself to be a better, calmer mom.