Do you find yourself yelling at your kids? You’re not alone. Yelling is often a long ingrained habit, and it is really hard to break. You know that communication is important with your child. In this article, let’s discuss two emergency tactics for those moments when you’re yelling.
If you think the task of reversing this habit is insurmountable, these are two places to start that don’t require you to become a different person overnight.
There are two harmful components of yelling at your kids, and each of these emergency yelling alternatives addresses one component.
One harmful component of yelling at your kids is the tone and volume of your voice. Your voice is loud, screeching, and harsh. This sound pierces right into your kids’ brains. Your pitch and volume are an extra assault on your child, even beyond the content of your words. It probably isn’t soothing to you, either! A bout of yelling may be followed by a headache or a feeling of exhaustion.
Try simply bringing down the volume. Go all the way to a whisper if you can.
This is especially helpful if you are prone to outbursts with particularly terrible content, such as I hate you right now! or I can’t stand the sight of you! Give yourself permission to say whatever it is you want to say, but say it softly instead. Don’t go up to your child and whisper it to them! Just stay right where you are and speak softly to yourself. This makes your words seem less like a well-aimed dagger at your child and more like muttering to yourself about your own feelings.
Sometimes whispering can also help you acknowledge the absurdity in your words. The things that sound powerful when yelled can sound silly when whispered.
Emergency Yelling Tactic #2 – State Your Emotions
The second component of yelling is the content of your words. Parents rarely yell I love you!! Yelling is an attack, and the words you choose can hurt your child.
Sometimes yelling at your kids is a defensive action. You lash out to protect your own emotions. Unfortunately, the content of yelling is often less about your feelings and more about attacking your child. You might yell How many times do I have to tell you… or Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! or Get out of my sight!
None of those express what you’re feeling.
Try stating what you’re feeling, as raw and authentic as your feeling is. If you’re scared, express that fear. If you’ve had a long day and are at the end of your rope, say that. If you’re really, really mad about what your child is doing, express that anger.
I learned how to express my emotions from the book Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg (affiliate link). I recommend it to anyone who wants help communicating and connecting with themselves, their feelings, and the feelings of others.
Say your child has just made an epic mess and you’re already tired after a long day. You might be used to yelling something like How many times do I have to tell you!! I’m tired of cleaning up after you! I can’t handle this! Get out of my sight! Your child will know that you’re angry, but they will receive that anger as a weapon being used against them.
On the other hand, you could SAY (even if it’s a tight, terse tone), I am so angry at you right now because I think you know better. I’m tired and don’t want to clean up anything else. I want to yell at you, so please go in the other room right now. When you calm down from the initial emotional explosion, you can go back to your child, connect, and clean up the mess together.
Try some of these other ways to state your feelings instead of attacking your child:
- I was so afraid you were going to hurt yourself!
- I am really tired right now and need a break!
- I am heartbroken that you and your brother are fighting.
- I am really confused about why you did that.
I frequently talk about feelings on the LoveLiveGrow Parenting page on Facebook. Join us there for daily support.
Have you tried focusing on your own emotions when you are wanting to yell? What other tactics have worked for you?