Does it seem impossible for you to stop yelling at your kids? You CAN make changes to stop yelling at your kids and be a calm parent!
Anger is a tricky emotion. It’s important and can be helpful, but also can get out of control easily. As parents, we want to model calm, mature reactions to problematic situations. Flying off the handle and yelling and screaming is not only not helpful, but will set a bad example for your children.
Babies and little children can poke all of our hot spots and emotions and drive us crazy some times. Personally, I struggle with anger and yelling at my girls, but I’m consciously making steps to be a calmer parent and make an effort to model good anger management techniques for my kids.
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Here are some things you can to do stop yelling at your kids and be a calm parent:
1. Know Your Triggers
Do you yell when:
- you are running late?
- you have too many things to do at once?
- kids are screaming (even if they are having fun?)?
- too many kids are asking you too many questions at once?
- sleep-deprivation takes over?
- the house is a mess?
2. Work Around Your Triggers
When you know what your triggers are, you can anticipate them and have a plan for working around them.
- If being late sets you off, plan ahead and add extra time.
- If you have too many things to do, delegate jobs and make a list in the morning to help keep you on task during the day.
- If yelling kids trigger you, ask them to speak calmly and softly before you can answer them.
- If you yell when you are sleep deprived, make sleep a priority. Schedule a nap in your day.
- If you yell when your house is messy, schedule regular clean-up times or take a 5-10 minute break and tidy up right now.
Related: Simple tips to organized home
3. Check Your Emotional Temperature
Think of your emotional temperature as a range from 1-10 (1 = calm as can be, 10 = out of control emotions). Keep a check on your internal emotional temperature throughout the day. You can have a small notebook where you log your emotional temperature from 1-10. When you notice your temperature starting to rise, take steps to cool down and consciously lower it.
4. Check your thoughts
During the day, are you thinking things like:
- “These kids are driving me crazy!”
- “I can’t stand my life!”
- “I hate how they are so demanding!”
Changing your thought patterns can help (but it’s hard to do!):
- “They have a lot of energy. I need to let them run outside.”
- “I’m having a bit of a hard day. I need to regroup and plan something fun for later.”
- “My kids really seem to need extra help today. They might be having a tough day too.”
5. Give Kids a Warning
If you know that your emotional temperature is rising, tell your children. Sometimes I’ll tell my girls things like “I’m starting to feel frustrated because…” This helps you to be conscious of your own emotions and notify your children that you are out of sorts.
6. Give Yourself a Time Out
I’ve been known to shut myself in the bathroom for a few minutes to “get away” and have a “break” (to pee in peace – ha!).
If you feel like your emotions are getting out of control, get away, take a break, and try to regroup.
Some small ways to do this:
- put a short show on for your kids so you can step away for a few minutes
- get yourself a cup of tea or coffee
- take some deep, slow breaths (slows your heart rate and helps you calm down)
- put on some soothing music
- do some quick exercises (several jumping jacks, stretches, etc.) (reduces stress)
7. Model Calm Behavior
When your emotions are high, before you speak, stop and consciously take a few deep breaths. If your kids see you do this, they’ll learn to do this too (eventually!). My 4 year old sometimes does this on her own without prompting.
We like to watch the PBS show, Daniel Tiger, and in one episode, Daniel sings: “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four.” My daughters and I have done this many times (or reminded each other to do this). Yes, my girls will sometimes remind me to take a deep breath and count to four when they notice I’m getting upset (or have already started yelling.)
For example: Take a deep breath and explain your emotions to your kids *deep, slow breath* “I feel very irritated because I’ve asked you to put your shoes on and you’re not listening. We need to leave right now”. The key is to remain calm.
8. Teach Lessons When You Are Calm
Don’t beat yourself up when you yell and don’t model calm. When you and your kids are calm, talk about what happened and what you should have done differently.
9. Adjust Expectations
Most little kid behavior is normal.
Small children are figuring out:
- how to manage emotions and conflict (by squabbling with siblings)
- how the world works (by flushing items down the toilet, seeing what crayons look like on the wall)
- how you will react (when they do these things).
As a parent, your job is to be calm, set appropriate boundaries, explain and repeat, repeat, repeat!
10. Be Prepared
Do your kids always have a meltdown when shopping in the afternoon? Make sure to bring snacks for them so they don’t get hangry and irritable and cause you to lose your cool.
Do you know that your preschooler can’t handle late night events? Don’t take her out or hire a babysitter instead.
Do you always get irritated when you put the kids to bed? Deliberately plan a soothing, calm activity (for yourself!) before starting the bedtime routine.
Related: How to Prevent Tantrums
11. Meet Your Own Needs
I notice that I often yell because I feel overwhelmed by the amount of piled on tasks, or excessive stress, or because I haven’t had any time to myself. I need to make sure that I make an effort to meet my own needs on a regular basis.
It’s so important to model sincere, heartfelt apologies. You need to repair relationships with your kids in order to help them heal and also to show them healthy ways of repairing relationships.
If you yell or scream at your kids, sincerely apologize to them as soon as possible. Talk about the situation and tell them what you wish you had done differently (this also helps your brain to remember what you should do next time).
13. Ask Your Kids to Help You
I have often asked my 4 year old to tell me to stop yelling and be calm. She will often call me out when I’m grumpy or yelling. It’s both humbling and helpful.
For example, she will often stop me when I’m angry or irritated at her little 2 year old sister and say “Mom, stop being grumpy with her. You need to say nicely to her ‘Would you please stop banging that toy?'” or something similar.
Related: How to teach kids to be kind
14. Keep Your Expectations Realistic
You won’t do this perfectly, but don’t give up. Your kids will be kids – don’t expect perfection of them. Often I expect my kids to listen the first time and not be noisy at all. yeah. right. You’ll both mess up often. Keep getting up, apologizing, and moving forward. You can do it!
15. Get Professional Help
Last, but not least, if you need to, find a good therapist and get professional help. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. I have gone to therapy for personal problems and to improve my parenting. I found it very helpful!
If you are going through a particularly tough time, you might need to work through this with the help of a qualified professional in order for you to be able to move forward with changing your parenting patterns.
For further in-depth reading, check out these great parenting books:
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham
The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel
In conclusion, realize that you have to model everything for your child. If you yell, they will learn to yell. But if they see you working on changing your behavior and stopping the yelling, they will also learn to do the same. This will take a lot of repetition and modeling and patience (on your part!). Just when I think I’m making progress, I fail. Then, I apologize, get up and try again. You can stop yelling at your kids and be a calm parent!
Recap: Stop Yelling at Your Kids and Be a Calm Parent
- Know your triggers
- Work around your triggers
- Check your emotional temperature
- Check your thoughts
- Give kids a warning
- Give yourself a time out
- Model calm behavior
- Teach lessons when you are calm
- Adjust expectations
- Be prepared
- Meet your own needs
- Ask your kids to help you
- Keep your expectations realistic
- Get professional help