3 ways I stopped yelling? I just put a question mark to this title because truth be known I am not saying I have completely stopped…..but definitely, absolutely I have reduced the frequency and severity. It will still be there when I need it, to startle them so they don’t step out on to a road, jump off the kitchen table or throw a cricket ball near the glass doorways. But it is no longer the ‘go to’ to response to bickering, whining or lack of cooperation.
We all know the feeling. We have been pushed to the limit and the child won’t listen, and we are in a hurry, and we tried to do it nicely and they wont stop arguing and now something is broken or there’s blood….…so we yell. The kids look up at you with a little mixture or surprise and fear (or if you do it all the time they may not even look up!) We yell and we regret it. We want to take it back because this isn’t how we want to teach our kids to listen. We know it doesn’t work. It may sometimes be a quick fix, but it doesn’t hold much weight long term.
Here are 3 things I have worked at over the years, that help me, for the most part, be less of the ‘yelling, screamy parent’ and more of the ‘calm intuitive fun mum’!
1) I got up close
I started to realise that a lot of my raised voice was happening because I was in another room, I was working on the computer, stirring the cheese sauce or hanging out washing (sorry neighbours) and I’d hear some commotion in the background or a fight start brewing. I started to yell to try and be heard and calm the ensuing storm. Of course no one listens then, and really they probably can’t over the commotion of TV’s, stereos, “Stop it”, “no you Stop It”s, basketball throwing etc. It’s usually a quick fix but of course not very effective. What takes time and takes more effort I have learned, also seems to come with the long term benefits. So what do I do now? I get up. I change rooms. I get within earshot. I get close. Its painful and annoying sometimes to be interrupted. But going to the source of the commotion to find out what is going on, is proving far more beneficial. It also works if I want something done. Yelling at them to make their bed as Im getting out of the shower is rather futile. Sometimes it all comes back to the eye contact! This mum explains it much better here.
2) I changed my tone
When I am struggling to get the 3 year old changed, or he wants to do 2 races up the hallway way before he gets out of his pyjamas, I sometimes have to play along. Even if I’m in a hurry. If he feels my stress it ends up taking much longer. So I ask him if he wants to have 3 races first, or I tickle him, or I give him some choices. Maybe we should be raising kids that just do as they are told, “just because”…… but sometimes I know that distraction, a happy and playful tone will mean they are far more willing to cooperate. Kids seem to know the ‘I really need you to get the shoes on quickly today because mum is in a hurry and if you make it hard I am going to get stressed and yell and you are going to yell back at me and its all going to go pear shaped and I’ll walk out the door sweating and cursing’ and they really don’t mean to cause this commotion, it’s just that our tone can often make them all antsy. So instead I don’t let on that I am in a major hurry, I offer some fun, some choices and some tickles and there is usually a much greater success and stress rate.
3) I got some perspective
Asking myself what are they trying to get across to me helps immensely, especially with the little ones. Thinking whether they are tired, hungry, how long I’ve been dragging them around the shops, how much they understand of the ‘mummy has an important phone call and I needed you to be quiet’ that they really understand at 3 years of age. So now I word things differently, I give them warning, I distract better, I look at the bigger picture of their day, their place in this moment and their understanding of a situation at hand. It allows me to take a breath. To reassess. It works much better for both of us.
So there are three of the things that have worked for me in the past….. get up close, change your tone and understand some perspective.
Have a go and let me know how it fares. Or do you have any other strategies you use?