“Boys, please put on your shoes and socks. We are leaving in 10 minutes.” I say in a nice tone of voice. Then, I say it again, and again and again. Then, it goes something like this “BOYS, I SAID PUT YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS ON NOW!” I’m sure you are familiar with this scenario. Somehow we start off with good intentions but it ends up with the dreaded yelling at our kids. Then comes the “feeling guilty for yelling at my child” phase.
It’s easy for parents to get overwhelmed with emotions. We have so many things we are trying to manage on a daily basis. I often get asked how to get kids to listen without yelling.
How To Get Kids To Listen Without Yelling
If you’ve been yelling more than you’d like, you are not alone. It is common for parents, even the most intentional, “positive parenting” parents to lose it and yell from time to time.
The occasional outburst is not necessarily harmful to children. It is when yelling becomes the norm or your “go to” parenting technique. Parents who yell too much can lower a child’s self esteem, lead to depression and increase behavior problems. For more information on long term effects of yelling at your child, read here from Healthline.com.
Here are some techniques on how to stop yelling at your kids.
The Best Tips to Stop Yelling at Your Kids
- Set Rules and Expectations– Be sure to set rules and explain what your expectations are from the beginning. The biggest mistake I see parents make, they assume the child knows the rules and what their expectations are. DON’T assume this! I can’t express this enough. Review the rules and explain your expectations with everyone in the house. Make sure there are no surprises. Even when it’s a common thing for you to do, review the rules. For example, when we are on our way to the store. I ask the boys, “what are the rules when we are in the store?” “what will happen if you don’t follow the rules?” If they aren’t specific, I make sure to remind them.
- Praise your child when they follow the rules. Positive reinforcement is huge! You will be amazed at how far a simple, “thank you for putting on your shoes and socks when I asked” can go. Kids love being praised…who am I kidding…we ALL love being praised. Think about how you feel when your boss or colleague praise you on something you did at work. At the very least, it puts a smile on your face and makes you feel good. Or, you do more and go the extra mile because you were given positive feedback. It’s natural for us to feel this way. Kids are no different. They LOVE the positive reinforcement.
- Give your child a warning. Children’s attention span is limited and they are easily distracted. Something may seem obvious to us but it isn’t to your child. They aren’t being disrespectful on purpose. (at least, most of them time. Ha!) When you give them a warning make sure you make contact with them. This can be physical contact (especially for the young ones). Walk up to them, touch their shoulder or bend down and face them. Look them in their eyes and give them their warning. If it’s an older child, at the very least make eye contact with them. Have them repeat the warning. That way you know they heard it. You want to be clear and concise. “We are leaving in 5 minutes, I need you to come when I call you. If you choose not to come then you will have no play time before bed”(or whatever the consequence you decide). Make it clear what you are asking of them and what the consequence will be. Also, be realistic. Another common mistake I see parents make are empty threats. You know the ones, “If you do that one more time we will leave (but you are at Disneyland and spent a fortune and have no intention on leaving!) or “You will be grounded for a month.” These won’t work because you won’t follow through on them and your child knows you won’t follow through on them.
- Follow through on your consequence. If you don’t follow through on your consequence they will know they can get away with it again. They won’t take the rules, the expectations or you seriously. That is why it is important to be realistic with your rules and expectations.
- Be consistent. Consistency provides children with stability and gives them a sense of control. They learn to trust you when you are consistent with them.
I am also a realist. I understand there are times when you have to pick and choose your battles or bend the rules. Life gets a little messy at times. Everyone has their own idea of what is important and what is less important. That is for you to decide. Just be aware of how this may impact your child. If your child is at the age and can understand why you have changed a rule, be honest with them. Give a short explanation and follow through with whatever your decision may be.
If you still find yourself in a place where you are yelling or angry all the time. Read how to stop yelling at your kids.