Keep It Calm: 5 Tips to Stop Yelling

stressed lady 

It happens to every parent at some point.  After a long day of constant requests, whining and sibling arguments, you lose it.  You raise your voice.  You might even stomp around the house for a minute as you yell empty threats to no one in particular.  In short, you have an adult temper tantrum.

These incidences are typically followed by intense feelings of remorse and mom guilt.  Yelling might release the immediate feeling of anger, but it often results in feelings of depression.  Forgive yourself.  No mom is perfect.

When children see their parents get upset once in a while it shows them that big feelings are ok, and you can always work to change your behavior.  Important life lessons for little ones.

The good news is that children are generally very forgiving.  The first step toward making things right is to apologize to your child in a calm moment.  Be specific.  Own it.  Then try these five strategies to avoid a repeat performance. 

Meet your child at eye level

When children are engrossed in play, art or other activities, they generally don’t hear the requests coming from across the room.  They tend to have selective hearing when they’re busy.  Meet your child at eye level when making requests that require immediate attention and try to provide advance warnings as much as possible.  When children have to stop for a moment and make eye contact, they are more likely to hear and process the request.

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Use a calm voice

When you yell, your child is likely to disengage to avoid the negative feelings associated with yelling.  Think of it as a survival tactic.  Your child is not trying to upset you; she’s simply trying to protect her own emotions.  When you use a calm and quiet voice, your child has to work to hear what you’re saying.  Under these circumstances, she’s more likely to process the information and comply with the request.

Address the behavior

When you see your child jumping from the couch or grabbing a toy from another child your gut reaction will likely be to yell, “Stop!  Don’t do that!”  Yelling general directives does little to correct the behavior.  Sit with your child and discuss the specific behavior.  Use simple, direct statements such as, “If you jump from the couch you might get hurt” or “Grabbing a toy from a friend isn’t nice and will hurt your friend.” 

Rules and consequences

Children do not enter this world knowing about rules and consequences.  It’s our job to teach them.  Have a clear list of rules and expectations posted in the most used room of your house.  Review it often.  When children know the family rules, and the consequences of breaking a rule, they are more likely to adhere to them.  Get the kids involved in developing your family rules.  Chances are they will have some great ideas to add to the list.



As difficult as it is to do in the moment, try to put yourself in your child’s shoes.  Children are told what to do and where to be all day long.  That Lego wall that might look just another building to you probably holds a much greater meaning to your child.  A little bit of empathy goes a long way with young children.  Tell them that you understand.  Share a story about a time when you felt that way as a child.  Help your child problem solve, “I know you’re really having fun with those Legos and you don’t want to stop to go to the grocery store.  How about 15 minutes of extra playtime before bed?”

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What strategies have you found that work to help you remain calm with your children?

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Keep It Calm: 5 Tips to Stop Yelling

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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  1. mommy nhoj says:

    A very well said article! Will keep this handy 🙂

  2. SnuggleBugs says:

    This is really good advice. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Donna says:

    Working at a daycare all day and coming home to young ones sometimes is very stressful. But I never thought about when yelling or talking to them not a eye level that they just think it is noise. Good Advice. Thanks

  4. Stephanie says:

    Love the advice taken in… I’m just hoping and praying that my daughter would listen to me because she been only child for 9yrs and I don’t want her feel left out now that my son soon to be here in this world that’s why I try get her as much involved as possible

  5. Victoria says:

    It is really great advice…works awesome on my 2 year old son…not so much with my almost 5 year old daughter. what do you do when none of that works? Yelling doesn’t work either but I sometimes just can’t help it because my frustration level is incredibly high every single day.

  6. Jeanetta says:

    Some really good advice…

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