Moms yell. Dads yell. And most of us feel pretty guilty after losing our cool. How we handle conflict teaches our children how to handle conflict as well. Do we want our children yelling at their friends? What life lessons do we teach when we respond to them that way?
Children are sensitive to our criticism, voice, and body positioning. That's why your child may say "stop yelling at me" when you aren't actually yelling. They want to please us. When children exhibit behavior that upsets us as parents, it usually has a reason. Maybe your child is seeking attention or is overtired. It's important to be aware of the purpose behind the behavior and attempt to resolve the underlying issue instead of getting angry.
Yelling often happens when one of our "hot buttons" is pressed. Knowing our hot buttons (talking back, not listening, hurting a sibling, etc.) and where we "feel" these emotions in our body can help us identify and remove ourselves from these situations.
The Village's Chief Clinical Officer Kelly Olson offers these tips to not yell at your kids:
- Understand your “trigger” situations. Are you more likely to fly off the handle at bedtime, or maybe in the morning? Know when you might have a shorter fuse.
- Create a plan of action with your partner. For example, you could have a code word for situations in which your “hot button” is triggered and they could take over.
- Walk away.
- Take a deep breath.
- Give your child a warning.
- Remember you don’t always have to respond.
- Be honest. Tell your child: "I'm really upset right now and I need to take a break. I will be back to talk with you in a couple minutes about this behavior."
- Have clear rules. Children will misbehave if the rules are not clear.
- Be consistent. Children need consistency, and will misbehave if the rules are not enforced consistently.
- Decide in advance how conflict will be handled. For example, during a conflict, your family's rule might be that the parents will take a break, the children will not disturb them during the break, and the family will meet after the break at an assigned area in the house.
- Spend quality time together. This means being totally engaged in an activity with your child.
Let's say you yelled. You screamed your head off … Now what? Apologize. Talk to your child. Say, “I made a mistake, I am sorry." Own it, and don’t relate it back to your child and their mistakes.
If your family needs help improving communication, call The Village Family Service Center office nearest you or request an appointment online.