We all love our kids. That is a given. However, there are times when we may say “Remind me again why I wanted kids!?!” Kids are well…..kids. They push our buttons. They may not listen, they may talk back, tune us out and even fight with their siblings. Of course, we don’t want to yell, but you know what it happens. I’ve done this more times than I care to admit (and am not proud of it).
I’ve been trying to keep my cool and not yell at my kids. I will admit that it has not been easy. Old habits are hard to break, but not yelling is one that I feel is just not only important to my kids, but also me. When I don’t yell at them and can keep my cool, I feel better and am a better person. I feel good about myself and am more open to enjoying my life (and my kids).
So, what have I been doing? The situation may warrant me trying different things, but here are some that have been working for me.
1. Walk away. When the kids are pushing those buttons or not listening, I don’t want to yell right away. I actually remove myself from the situation. It allows me the time I need to collect my thoughts and calm down. I find that I can then go back and have a much more rational discussion and talk to my kids about what they’ve done…..without all of the yelling.
2. Make sure I take care of myself.I hadn’t realized that I was much more irritable when I did not eat well during the day. I now make sure I have a good breakfast (even it is just a smoothie) and then think about the foods I eat. When I avoid the carb and sugars, it keeps my mind more focused and I don’t get angry as quickly.
I love this one as it provides a double bonus. Not only does it help me not lose my cool, but it is good for me too! I feel better all the way around, sleep better and am much more focused during the day.
3. Breathe. When I can take a few moments and take some deep cleansing breaths, it gives me a chance to calm down. It allows me the time I need to collect my emotions and think about what I want to say before I say it.
4. Turn it into a teaching moment. Kids are kids and they don’t have the ability to think about the consequences of actions. What will happen if they ride a bike in the street? We know that they could be hit by a car and all they see is a flat place to ride — without end in site. We need to stop and not yell at them for doing wrong, but turn it into a way to help them learn why they should not do something. Yes, we yell out of fear, but that doesn’t help kids nor us (of course, there are times when we have to yell for safety reasons, but that is not what I am talking about here).
5. Get down and talk to them face to face. When you are scolding or yelling at your kids, you are usually looking down at them (except for those pesky teenagers who tend to grow taller than us). That immediately puts you at the advantage can can make your kids feel defensive.
Bend down and look at them in their eyes. Get down to be the same size they are. That can take the need for them to get defensive off of the table and you can both talk much more rationally. Having to stop and move to their level also gives your brain the chance to turn off the need to yell and you talk to them much more calmly.
6. Follow through. We’ve all said it before. If you don’t stop “__________”, I am going to “________.” You can probably fill in the blanks with a plethora of things, can’t you. Make sure that your threats are not empty. Set the rules and make sure your kids know them.
For us, it is a one warning system. If they have been told to get ready for school, they know that they have to do it. It is part of the routine and not something out of the ordinary. I will then do one reminder if they do not do it. I usually say “Go and get dressed for school and if you do not, you will lose your Nintendo 3DS.” Then, if they do not go and do what they are told, I do not say anything more. I simply walk into their room, take the game and walk out. If they yell at me, I remind them that they have rules to follow and not following through results in consequences. After a few times, they know that I mean business – all without having to yell.
7. Tag team. If you have a spouse or partner, it sometimes can be helpful to just turn over the situation to them. It is amazing to me that when I am angry about something, my husband can keep his cool and vice versa. This is powerful because it shows that Mom and Dad are a united front, working together – without ganging up on our kids. We don’t both reprimand at the same time as it feels we are attacking. Instead, whichever of us is more calm and collected will take over the discussion, while the other has a chance to cool down.
8. Celebrate and praise the good moments. Kids need positive reinforcement. When I praise my kids for doing good things – even if it was just something they are suppose to do (something as simple as Thank you for hanging up your coat without my asking you to). They love that and then they work to continue feeling good about themselves, which can actually reduce them doing the things that make you yell. It shows them that you notice them for being good and not just bad (which can be a way of them just looking for attention).
9. Put yourself in your kids shoes. How does it feel when someone yells at you? It sucks (to put it bluntly). I try to think of how I sound to my kids and how they feel when they are yelled at. It does not feel good. In fact, it makes me feel pretty bad. If I take a moment to put myself in my kids’ shoes, it helps me think about the way I am speaking with them.
Of course there are still times when I yell. I still do not feel good about it. I take the time to apologize to my kids and we talk about it. We talk about what they could have done differently and the same goes for me.
I remind them that we are all human and we make mistakes – mom and dad included. What we have to do is apologize for what we do that may hurt others and then just remember that and try not to allow it to happen again.