Many of you know this story, but when my girls were young I used to yell a lot. It was one of my go-to parenting techniques. Looking back it was relatively effective too. But then came the day when I noticed my 2 year old daughter cringing when I would approach her. I knew then that I had to find a different way in which to discipline my children.
Along this journey, here are a few things I have learned about yelling:
- If yelling is one of your main parenting tools, your child is never going to listen to you until you get to the point of yelling.
- Yelling trains kids to yell.
- Yelling erodes a relationship in the same way that other forms of punishment do.
- Children will never think you “mean” it until you yell and thus will ignore you until you do.
- Children will model what they are shown. It is the same with backtalk. If we backtalk to them, they’ll backtalk to us. Children are not going to wake up one day and say, “I don’t think I will yell at my mom any more.” It is impossible to have have expectations for a child to control themselves unless we can control ourselves.
- Children are forming beliefs about themselves on a daily (hourly!) basis. Yelling, like other forms of punishment invites in rebellion, resistance and retreat. All things that erode relationships.
So what are some of the the most effective things that can help to reduce and eventually stop yelling?
The main thing to keep in mind with behavior change is that it is CHANGE, and just like quitting smoking or losing weight, it takes time. It actually takes between 2-3 months to completely stop yelling, and this is only the timeframe if a few things happen:
1. Being able to identify the triggers that cause you to yell is the first step. Being able to recognize if it is backtalk or not listening or something else is the key. After that, it is slowing down, breathing through it (a lot) and then making a different choice for yourself (and your child). It takes a lot of practice.
2. Know that it is not weakness to “take a break” or walk away. You can always come back together and problem solve or discuss the issue after everyone has calmed down. Even if it seems like they’re “getting away with it”, in the long term, you are preserving your relationship, maintaining connection and modeling what you really want.
3. Take care of yourself. We all know this of course, but have you really taken a hard look at what you do for YOU in addition to everyone else? No excuses. It really helps..
4. Get help if you need it:
- Find some new parenting tools to use as a substitute; such as Positive Discipline.
- Engage a parent coach to help keep you on track, encourage you, and keep you moving forward.
- Tell your children and spouse what you are doing and that you need their help to stop.
- Encourage yourself (rather than beat yourself up, like many of us do!) for any small step in a new direction.
It can be a challenge, but you can do it.
Let me know if I can help you through any of my coaching programs.