Parenting can be challenging and frustrating. Many parents reach that point where they just want to explode causing them to yell at their kids or even their partners. There can be several possible reasons behind their actions but one thing is for sure – it’s not a healthy way of communication.
However, it’s important that parents know how to deal with stress and their own emotions. That’s what I’m here for – to discuss all about how yelling at kids affects them and how we, as parents, can stop ourselves from yelling at them repeatedly.
The more a person yells, the less a kid listens.
Whether in school or at home, kids are more likely to not listen if someone yells at them. Parents keep yelling at their kids not because it is effective but because they are in a triggering place and rather than reacting in a calm manner, there’s a burst of emotions.
When you’re overwhelmed and yelling at your kids, you’re in a heightened and activated fight, flight or freeze stage. You’re actually no longer reacting to what’s right in front of you, and instead acting from either what you learned, or what was imprinted on you when you were a kid, or reliving some sort of thing that makes your body feel unsafe.
And so, most of the time, kids interpret your frequent yells as a threat or aggression. This is often true insofar as kids will not listen to you or follow you because your yells triggered their brains to shift into a fight or flight mode causing them to shut down or tune everything out.
What can you do in the moment to stop the yelling?
As we’ve mentioned, parents get triggered by many things and they’re stuck in that trigger zone which causes them to yell at their kids. It might be a trial and error process trying to get out of that trigger zone. You might make some mistakes amidst everything and that’s fine. We want you to get out of that state as quickly as you can which is why we’re discussing all these in today’s episode.
Take a time out for yourself although it may not always be physically possible. You need to give yourself some space from the child and that behavior as much as you can. It’s definitely not easy. I know that sometimes these triggering instances happen in the middle of a shopping mall, at a public park or at grandma’s and you can’t just leave the situation or the room.
Sometimes you just can’t walk away but what you can do is to close your eyes. You can soothe yourself and give yourself some butterfly hugs – taking your hands and putting them on the opposite bicep, and just kind of rubbing them up and down. Take a couple deep breaths and close your eyes.
What’s real right now can help you move from the negative.
Grounding yourself in the moment and asking what’s real right now can help you move from that to the curiosity that leads to a conclusion providing reasons behind your kid’s behaviors.
Your curiosity is rooted in your urge to look for a justifiable reason for your kid’s behavior. Often, the reason is that your kid is looking for attention and somehow, we view that as a negative thing. However, kids are naturally in need of attention. They always want our attention.
If you think about those times when they were crying as babies, we never really got mad at them for trying to get our attention because we know that they were crying because they’re hungry, sleepy, bored, or feeling something else.
Parenting can be frustrating at times. Sometimes, it feels good to just scream but even if it does feel good in the moment, we never feel good in the long term. Rather, we feel guilty and ashamed. We feel like we’re the worst parents in the world and getting worried that we’re gonna mess up our kids.
What I want is for parents, myself included, to look at your kid’s behavior that is frustrating and think about what they need and what they are trying to communicate, rather than come at it from just a place of frustration where all we want them to do is stop.
The power of repair.
When we acknowledge the stressors, we’re aware of why we’re frustrated with our kids. So what we have to do is try to get ourselves together and try to ground into the present, rather than reacting to what your body thinks is happening. Remind your body that everything’s fine and that there’s nothing to be upset about.
We need to be curious about what’s going on and how we can move this along here. And at some point, you’ll apologize. It doesn’t have to be right at that moment. The repair piece is the reason why yelling is sometimes okay. If you’re following it up with repair, then it’s going to be okay in the long run.
That sense of security is not going to be shattered if you yell at them once or twice as long as you go back, acknowledge that you hurt their feelings and that it wasn’t the best way to handle the situation, and genuinely apologize.
The key components to repair are an apology and sometimes, an explanation but only if it serves the purpose of teaching them how to handle their own emotions. Apology is important because it’s like a reassurance that you never want to hurt them, and you never mean to make them feel bad about needing your attention.
When you apologize, you’re reminding them that there’s nothing wrong with them. They are humans and there are going to be conflicts between you two along the way and that’s fine. That’s the power of repair – the reassurance to a child that you are their person and you will show up time and time again because you love them unconditionally even if you mess up sometimes.
How do you stop yelling at your kids?
I have helped several parents personally and professionally to communicate with their kids better. I helped them learn their kid’s behaviors and I also helped them change into better parents for their kids.
It’s necessary for parents to diminish the behaviors that are bothering them. If you want positive changes, start with yourself. You can start with changing your behavior when faced by challenging situations rather than trying to control them.
Once you are aware of your triggers, you may find better ways to respond and take action to control your own emotions. Ask yourself questions about things that would have helped when you’re in that situation or what it was that your kid needed.
Listen to your kid’s point of view. Even if you disagree with their behavior, ask them questions and validate their sentiments. This can make it easier for you to respond to them and comprehend their viewpoint.
It’s also important that you set boundaries. Boundaries provide consistency and structure for children which can help them feel more secure and confident. Kids are more likely to follow rules when they are aware of what is expected of them and the repercussions for breaking them.
Changing yourself is not an easy thing to do. It’s going to take time and effort and I can attest to that as I was able to do all of these things. I had a great support system – a group of mom friends, a therapist, and a mother-in-law – that helped me become better. I also read books and blogs and realized that there were other people like me and that they understand how I’m feeling.
Keep in mind that it takes time to overcome the habit of yelling. Be kind to yourself and your kids and continue to develop a healthy and positive relationship with them.
You’ve probably heard me talk about Daniel Siegel before but recently, I’ve read one of his books called Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain which gives us an enlightening insight about adolescents, their developments, and their behaviors.
Brainstorm is a good read primarily because discussions about teenagers are interesting. There are many fun things that happen during teenage years and one shouldn’t just be surviving it. Daniel Siegel did a good job in this book helping us understand the things that we usually don’t like to deal with. It gives you a level of compassion for adolescents as humans that maybe as adults, we somehow forgot how teenage years were.
Another fun thing I’ve recently got hooked into is Will Trent which is a TV show on Hulu. It’s based on the book series of Karin Slaughter. It’s a delightful police procedural crime drama with a knockout cast. Although, I can almost guarantee that the show’s gonna get canceled because I really like it and I seem to be a bad luck charm for network television. So catch it while you can!
Lastly, I am a part of a group called Believe Inspire Grow (B.I.G.) which is for women. It started as a New Jersey women in business group but it has expanded to be a global organization because of the pandemic.
There are many women of stellar character. Everybody’s generous and kind hearted. There are tons of opportunities to learn from everyone in the group. So if you’re seeking to make deeper connections and get yourself limitless opportunities, check out our B.I.G. community.