Get kids to listen without yelling

I’m sure we’ve all been there, where we feel that yelling has been our ‘go-to’ reaction. We might start out with the right intentions, we listen and we stay calm. But in the end we grab the last resource we have – suddenly we are YELLING – and only then do they finally listen and take us seriously. It works! 

And I get it; it takes lots of practice and patience to get what we are asking for without yelling or losing our temper.

Why should we NOT be yelling!

  • When we yell we have lost all control of ourselves and any chance we had of staying in charge of the situation. Actually, we have given away all the power we might have had. 
  • When we start yelling we have stopped all forms of healthy communication since we are not listening any more. Our negative emotions have taken over and are controlling us. There is no way forward to solve the issues that respects our kids and sits well with us.
  • It sends a signal to our kid’s brains that they are in danger and they will most likely go into fight or flight mode and will automatically fight back or move away (run away from us, in fact they are just running away from danger) 
  • Yelling can have a long term effect on our kids if it happens too often and we become out of control. Nobody likes to be yelled at and it is a humiliating experience they will carry with them.
  • We are our kids’ biggest role model and from an early age they copy everything we say and do and how we say it!  I think you know what I am about to say now…Yes, if we want our kids to stop yelling and start listening we need to show them how to do it!

First we need to show and teach our kids how to control our behaviour by checking in with our emotions – what we feel in the here and now:

  1. Notice the feeling when it comes, STOP what you are about to say and take a deep BREATH. Nothing else for now.
  2. THINK: What am I feeling right now and why? At this point don’t fight it, step into the feeling and accept it, ‘this is my feeling and I cannot get rid of it but I don’t want it to control how I parent next!’
  3. Notice any self-thoughts or doubts and then challenge them. 
  4. Allow a pause before you do or say anything   
  5. Verbalise it: ‘I feel really upset / angry / frustrated right now’
  6. MAKE A DECISION: choose what you will do and say, or NOT do and say. And it is OK to take a time out or ignore a child’s behaviour as long as we re-engage later and restore the balance. 
  7. Make it a family agreement to work on the yelling. Have a signal that you can give each other when anybody is about to yell.
  8. Admit to mistakes: We are human, you will get it wrong, but awareness is the first step to change. Go back and say, ‘that was not my finest hour and I will work on changing that’.

And be kind to yourself: just by reading this article you are already changing things for the better, since you care and are willing to work on things. No one said that parenting was going to be easy and most of us are trying our best and sometimes that is good enough!