It’s amazing how we can completely lose our cool with the people we love the most. We KNOW they’re innocent, and littler than us, and we love them more than anything, but sometimes they push every single button, repeatedly, without mercy.  

And sometimes, we yell. Or say mean things. Or even spank, or hit.

And then, inevitably, we regret it, resolve not to do it again, and try to do better next time.

Here’s what I know: There are ways for you to harness the power of your love for your child to change your behaviour!

Here’s what else I know: There is no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all yelling solution or parenting plan.

Here’s one more thing I know: There are a few things you can do that WILL create permanent changes in the negative dynamic that you’re stuck in.

Here they are:

1) INCREASE UNDERSTANDING: The more you understand WHY your child does what he or she is doing, the more patience you will have with the behaviour. Learn about developmental stages, observe your child closely, and be curious about what your child is expressing, learning or exploring with the behaviour. Formulate a clear understanding of your child’s reason for the behaviour and the pressure will instantly decrease.

2) HAVE A PLAN: Know what your triggers are, and proactively plan to avoid them. When it doesn’t work to avoid them, refer to your back-up plan for stopping yelling immediately. Your plan can be simple, or it can be more complex. Even something as simple as “Take ten deep breaths, and go into the next room for 30 seconds,” will shift your energy around the situation. 

3) KNOW YOUR FEARS: There’s a good chance that your fears are triggers for your anger at your child. If you’re afraid that your child will be like you in some aspect of your personality that has caused you pain, or if you’re afraid that you’re a bad parent unless you can somehow “get” your child to behave better, or if you’re afraid that your in-laws will criticize your parenting if your child whines, then work with those fears. Reframe them, address them, and acknowledge them in the moment. “Yes, I’m afraid that it means I’m a bad mom if my child doesn’t listen to me. I still love myself and my child, and we will get through this.” 

4) HAVE HUMOUR: When your plan isn’t working, compose a funny blog post in your head about the situation, imagine telling your friend about it, or imagine yourself in a cartoon.  Do whatever you can to get out of the emotion and into your head, so that you can THINK instead of acting on the negative feeling. (See “have a plan” for another example of getting into your head.) 

5) FOCUS ON GRATITUDE: Over and over again, come back to gratitude.  The more times in the day that you express gratitude for your child and the relationship, the easier it will be to get past your upset in the moment, and even to access that gratitude in the moment. 

6) DO A PLAY-BY-PLAY: Describe what is going on for you, out loud. “I am so mad that I want to yell and scream and throw stuff. I want to say mean things and I’M NOT GOING TO because I love you so much and because I want to live in a peaceful home! I’m having a tough time, and I want to cry and stomp and do all kinds of stuff!” 

7) IF YOU MUST YELL, CHANNEL MARTIN LUTHER KING: Share your inspiring vision with your children. “I see a family where we all speak kindly to each other and we cooperate to get things done! I see us working together, being a team, and loving each other, even when we’re driving each other a little crazy!”
8) GET IT OUT: At any point, feel free to stomp, cry, or even yell, as long as you are not directing these behaviours in an intimidating way AT your children. Expressing yourself is important, and letting off a little steam in a positive, non-coercive way will help. Yup, that’s right!  Maybe a step in not yelling AT your children is yelling, just to get those big feelings out of your body. Eventually, when you don’t stuff the feelings, you’ll become more and more comfortable expressing them, so the charge won’t build up and cause the hurtful explosion. 
Please comment and let us know your top tips for stopping yelling!  We’d love to hear.