Many parents shout at their children. It seems to be part of normal life at home. And yet, it feels wrong. It’s one of the habits that, as parents, we most want to change. Also it doesn’t seem to have any long term effect – we still end up shouting regularly! And the last thing we really want to be doing is shouting at our children. We love them dearly – but don’t they just know how to push our buttons? However, when our children shout, we know that they are only copying us. And we know that our home would be a much nicer place to be if we didn’t shout. However it is so hard to stop. Here are some handy hints to help you change
1. Resolve to stay calm – have a chart
- Firstly, you need to decide that you really want to stop. It is a hard habit to break, and you have to need to be determined.
- Make a weekly chart for yourself – divided into morning, afternoon and evening. And put a tick for each block of time you don’t raise your voice. (If the habit has got really bad, you may need to start marking off each hour you manage not to shout.) At the end of each day you managed not to yell, give yourself a little treat.
- Tell your children that you are trying to stop shouting. It is good for them to see that you can change your behaviour when you want to. And it makes you more likely to stick to it if you’ve shared it with your child and you’ve committed to it.
2. Don’t take it personally
What does your child do to annoy you? If you were to make a list, you would find that your child’s behaviour is probably pretty normal for their age. That is, lots of other parents would be complaining about the same problem! It’s just that it pushes your buttons. So what can you do to stop yourself getting angry? Change the way you think!
When children misbehave, we often find ourselves ‘awfulising’ about what that behaviour means. We think our child is rude, lazy, won’t have any friends, selfish or deliberately winding us up. And we see ourselves as hopeless, not coping or incompetent. No wonder we end up shouting when we have thoughts like that!
What we need to do is to work out what is really happening. Are they tired, hungry, distracted or absorbed? Have they had a bad day? Are they trying to unwind?
Ask yourself are you expecting a lot from your child? Are your thoughts and feelings making you feel angry? And –the important bit –Can you think differently about what they’re doing that may be more accurate or a more helpful way to look at the same situation? Learn to change the way you think to be more helpful or realistic – work out what’s really going on – and it’s much easier to respond calmly.
3. Walk away when you feel angry
It’s important to take responsibility for your own anger and behaviour. Although it may sometimes feel that your child has a remote control that forces you to react in a certain way… that they can push the button that makes you lose your temper. No one has the power to make you shout. Only you can manage your own emotions. And your responses.
So when you feel yourself getting angry – walk away. As you leave the room you can say out loud – ‘I’m feeling angry – I’m going to go and calm down, and come back when I’m calmer so we can deal with this.’ It is a really powerful thing to do. It shows your child what they should do when they feel angry – go somewhere to calm down, without shouting or losing their temper.
4. Learn to deal with problem behaviour differently
Often, as parents, we end up shouting because we just don’t know what else to do about our child’s behaviour. We know that shouting isn’t working, but we don’t have an alternative.
Preventing misbehaviour is much better than dealing with it. And there are a few things that will help.
- Stop being so negative. Don’t keep noticing the bad or wrong things your child does. Give them positive attention instead. Notice – and comment – every time your child does something right. And describe exactly what your child did –‘I noticed you cleared away your plate’ rather than ‘good girl.’ Doing this has the added benefit of our child wanting to do what we ask.
- Have some rules so your child knows what they should do. State what you want to happen. (So rather than ‘don’t hit’ you might say ‘keep your hands to yourself.’) With a little reward – something cheap or free –or time with you – when they stick to the rules.
- Talk through problems beforehand so your child pictures themselves doing the right thing. So when everything is calm, ask your child lots of questions about what you expect, how they’ll need to behave, what they’ll need to do, and how they’ll handle any difficult feelings. Be really positive and friendly, and ask them lots of times – so rather than crossing your fingers and hoping they won’t misbehave- you and your child are both clear on what’s expected.
- And, rather than shouting, find other ways of dealing with misbehaviour – allow your children to experience the natural consequences, or not to earn privileges such as computer or TV time, or do something helpful to make up. You decide, so that when the misbehaviour happens you have a plan.
5. Look after yourself.
When you find yourself shouting a lot – there should be some warning bells that you are not taking good care of yourself. There are a lot of things that make us stressed as parents– trying to do all the jobs that need to be done, financial worries, scheduling too many activities for our children, going out to work as well as running a home.
And whose needs come bottom of the heap? Ours of course!
- You can’t keep giving if you’re running on empty! You need to recharge your batteries to have the energy to care for your child. So how do you do that?
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercise and a healthy diet. Don’t forget the basics!
- Work out what’s making you feel stressed and tackle it. So have you got too many activities planned? A huge list of things to do? Or do you keep losing things at home? Make a plan of how you will sort these out.
- Make a list of all the things that help you relax and re-energise. Then plan your day so you can have some treats to look forward to, regularly, throughout the day.
- Find some time each week where you can be away from the children. If money is tight, then arrange a child-swap with a friend.
- Get your child to do jobs alongside you, that way you can chat as well as get the job done.
- Schedule some ‘me’ time – that’s really important – a bit of time doing what you want. But make sure you plan it – or it just won’t happen.
- Plan some adult time- with your partner or friends – where you can just relax and have a laugh.
- Try to spend some quality time listening to your child or playing with them every day – it’s surprising that when we feel really connected, we’re happier – and so are our children!
- Before you go to bed each night, write down five things that you’re grateful for, and three things that you did well during the day – give yourself some credit for the good things you did manage to do. It will end the day on a good note and help you feel more positive.
Do you have an angry child? Or a child who is anxious or stressed? Don’t forget to register for my FREE Webinar. 1st April. 8pm. ‘Help Your Child with Stress, Worries and Anger’. Just CLICK HERE to register