Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How I stopped yelling at my kids

(photo by Betty Miller; used with permission)
I come from a long line of professional yellers, stompers and door slammers. I had a PhD in verbal assaults. It was my gift.

Yet, today, I do not yell. I do not yell at my husband or my kids. I would love to say it was the meds for depression and anxiety, but I cut it out even before then. Here is how I did it:

STEP 1: Believe yelling is not okay. When you are screaming at someone, you are not thinking clearly, you have abandoned love and kindness, and ... well ... it's hurtful.  Outside of having to yell, "FIRE!" or "MOVE! There's a train coming!" it's just plain hurtful. Yelling hurts. It never helps.

STEP 2: Acknowledge your children learn through what you do, more than what you say. "STOP YELLING AT YOUR BROTHER!!!" Um, yeah.

STEP 3: If it's good enough for your kids, it's good enough for you. Give your kids permission to say, "Mom, can you please change your voice?" Also, in our house we do something extra for the person we have hurt. So, if I yelled at my kids, I owed them an extra treat or some extra reading time or they could stay up a little later, etc. I have to make a repair for yelling. Just like I ask them to do.

STEP 4: Do not yell at your child the first time they rationally and calmly say, "Mom, can you please change your voice?"
You'll want to, but it's better to put yourself in a time out ... in your room ... while you scream into a pillow. Not that I know anything about that.

STEP 5: Yell less and less and less until you are no longer a yeller.

26 comments:

Shannon said...

Before I had children, I had clients (while I was doing an internship to finish my masters in MFT). I would tell those parents that yelled, "Yelling is never ok." Then I had kids. I've had to put myself in plenty of time-outs after yelling.

Thanks for sharing.

Georgia said...

Very timely for me. Shaking them until their brains rattle probably isn't a good alternative to the yelling. Oh, being a mother is so hard.

Georgia said...

Oh, and how long did this process take?

Stephanie said...

I was reading a book about parenting once and the author said "you can't steer a car by yelling at it." It always stuck with me that if I'm trying to change my kids behavior I might have to put my hands on the wheel, so to speak, and show them where to go or how to change.

Great post.

Christine said...

Georgia, it depends on you.

I know ... that answer sucks, doesn't it?

Latte Lady said...

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Janet

tikesbestfriend said...

WHAT?!

Yeah, I know. You're right...I am.

Question...what about cats? I'm assuming that yelling, "NO!" at the cats as they claw through the furniture would be a "no, no" since our child will learn to yell by watching us. Yes?

Tim

Babs said...

Another insightful post and words I would have said if I was talking...

Sometimes I give myself a good ol pat on the back when i catch myself seconds before what could've been a heated session and parent well.
This morning Bm (B minor for those non musician types out there)was on the verge of a meltdown and was throwing around some "i'm not quite a tween yet but i can act like one" tude...and rather than tude right back at her, I asked her what was wrong to which she promptly replied "nothin" ... a few minutes later I told her when I ask that, it means I'm really interested and really want to know. Later on in the morning a similar situation happened, I asked her what was the matter and as the tears flowed she told me (it really would've been a trivial reason to anyone else so had i gone the yelling route i can hear my mother's voice already..."now that's silly, and no reason to cry."
After Bm was done, and wasn't gulping air between sentences, I asked her if this could've been a "nothin" moment, she smirked...
I followed up with "did this work out better?" she smiled and fell into my hug

yup...that was a patter-on-the-backer if I do say so myself :)

Amy said...

Great post! I tend to yell, as I grew up with yelling. I really need to stop it.

{ L } said...

This is a blog post I needed. Much appreciated.

Perspective RAD said...

It takes one to know one! :) Nothing says "I hate you" to a kid with attachment issues like yelling. I have had to learn that the hard way over and over and over again. Some days I have to be reminded again. (GAHSP, hand over mouth)

Leslie said...

Good reminder for me! I needed it today.

Mary Beth said...

I had no idea that I was a yeller until Joshua was 2 and I was dealing with both him and newborn Clare. Intellectually, I know that it's wrong and that I'm setting up Joshua to marry some screaming shrew who yells at my grandchildren, but knowing intellectually hasn't helped much.

Then I heard him yelling at his sister. So we have a deal. Neither of us yell. There aren't any real consequences except that he gets the joy of seeing Mama clap her hand over her mouth when she raises her voice. But I think it's helped that I voiced my commitment to him and gave him permission to hold me accountable.

I just hope I haven't done too much damage already.

The Random Muse said...

My mother was (is) a yeller and cries at the drop of a hat. I'll never be as close to her as I would like be because conversing is a strain when I never know what is going to tip her one way or the other.

dewde said...

I'm a Dad fighting this, too. Thank you for this.

You rock.

peace|dewde
http://dewde.com

Luke said...

Yeah, I can yell too. The other--opposite--destructive practice is to tune out.

I do that well too.

Neither is okay. It is wrong.

(There, I did the first step! The should be cake [snicker]). Thanks for the encouragement: We can grow! There is still hope for us.

~Luke

gourmetmomma said...

i'm reading this post and wondering... "do i have a yelling problem?" then i look up and see my 3 year old dumping crayons all over the couch and floor. i yelled at him. uhhh, yeah. i have a yelling problem. thanks for the post.

lana said...

I'm sorry, but do you have a bug in my office? I was just talking to my co-worker about this exact thing. How I am struggling to get a grip on my childs behaviour and how ridiculous I sound Yelling at her to behave. I began re-reading my "Parenting with Love and Logic" book as I have apparently forgotten all my logic lately. Thanks again for reinforcing what God has been "Yelling" at my about.

Nikki said...

You are hitting me where I need to be hit and I love it. Praise God. For real.

Sara said...

*nods* oh yes...I'm a yeller. Better to work on that now before a little one even shows up me thinks...yes indeed.

Wife to the Rockstar said...

From one recovered yeller to another.... GREAT post.

ginabad said...

I like what Shannon said. Never ever thought I'd yell at a 5 year old, but found myself losing control as the newness of morning routines with a cranky family set in. It took TIME, but I learned to give a 5 second time out to myself when I wanted to scream. It worked, slowly, but surely.

Of course now, sometimes I'm in that time out and I still want to scream. Haven't figured THAT one out yet, lol, but I'm confident I will.

ali said...

awesome awesome awesome. i still slip sometimes, but i had The Family Gift too.

Michele said...

My name is Michele...and I'm a yeller. What great timing for me to stumble upon this post. I saw it out of the corner of my eye in a blogher advertisement on Angie Smith's blog. So GLAD I did. I'm going to teach my daughter how to call me out!! Can't wait to put this into practice and nip yelling in the bud. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!

Nikki said...

so i've had to come back and re-read this post at least 5 times since June. I think I'm just gonna go ahead and print it out now ;)

Laura Dodson said...

ok. so i want to cuss. out loud. but i'm guessing if yelling is wrong then cussing probly is too and i'd just have to repent and seek forgiveness, and all that. deep sigh.

Lord. Help.