Breaking the Cycle: What To Do When You Want To Stop Yelling
After their kids go to sleep and their house quiets down, many parents take a deep breath and spend a few minutes standing above their little one’s bed or peeking in from the hall, watching them sleep. As they gaze at the rise and fall of their chests and see the dreams dance across the back of their eyelids, they often reflect on the past day. We’re they kind enough? Patient enough? Did they show their little one how much they loved them? Often, too often, it’s hard to answer these questions in a way we feel good about.
In the quiet hours of the night, it’s easy to promise ourselves that we’ll do better tomorrow. That we’ll get up before our kids to start breakfast and set out everything they need for a peaceful morning, that we’ll handle tantrums with patience and a hug, that we’ll stay calm even when we’ve told our kids to stop touching each other for the hundredth time. And then, usually so much quicker than we’re ready for, the morning comes and all of our intentions seem to fall away before our feet hit the floor. When the baby didn’t sleep through the night or the toddler peed through his sheets at 4:00 a.m. and then never, ever went back to sleep, all of the patience we’d stored up for the day can disappear as we find ourselves raising our voices towards the ones we love the most.
If you’ve ever been in a place where you find yourself yelling and feeling guilty about it later, you might need to adjust your approach and try out a few of the tips below. With just a little practice and determination you’ll be the calm parent you’ve always wanted to be.
Take note of when you yell
Before you can begin to change a bad habit (like yelling) you have to understand why you do it. Do you often find yourself yelling at your kids to put on their shoes because you’re in a rush in the morning? Or does it happen more often in the afternoons when you're frustrated that your little one won’t take their nap? Over the next few days take note of when you yell, what’s happening, and how you’re feeling.
Pick something to focus on
After you’ve identified some of the factors that create situations when you yell, pick one or two specific things to focus on. Setting a goal to “stop yelling” can be just too big and vague to accomplish. Instead, chose something more specific to focus on. For example – if you’re often yelling during the morning rush because you’re anxious that you’re going to be late for work, make a plan to prepare your bags the night before, wake up fifteen minutes before you typically do, and talk your kids through the morning routine during bedtime the night before.
Practice calming strategies
Sometimes, even the best-laid plans go awry. When we recognize that yelling never helps kids achieve their goals though and make a plan to calm down before we act, we can make a change. Taking a few deep breaths, stepping outside for a few minutes, or putting on some music are all strategies that can help individuals calm down before they end up yelling.
Be patient with yourself
Just as being harsh with kids doesn't help them achieve their goals, being harsh with yourself won’t help you grow. If you find yourself yelling do your best to adjust your tone and volume in the moment, reflect on what happened afterwards, and take note of any of the growth you’ve seen since you began trying to stop yelling.
Good luck parents, making the change to stop yelling can be hard but it’s more than worth it!