Yelling. It is so common for parents to subject their children to yelling. And then one day start receiving it all back in return, until all you hear are yelling matches in the house and no one is winning. I think we will all agree that yelling is unhealthy and best avoidable. No parent enters their parenting journey wanting to yell. But somewhere along the way it just happens. And then there is no turning the clock back to a time when there was no yelling. But like everything else, yelling does not have to be the point of no return. With conscious “no yelling” and consistent practice, yelling can be relegated to a place from where it will never return.
How does yelling begin
No one yells at babies. It is when these babies start having a mind of their own that all the personality clashes happen. You want to fix dinner or answer a phone call and your toddler decides this is the best time to hike onto mommy’s shoulder for a loving embrace. Your boss on the phone call wants you to rattle off sales numbers and action plans for achieving them, but your toddler decides to strew his breakfast all across the living room. You yell.
This happens in various situations. You do feel guilty. You vouch never to do this again, but you’ve seen that yelling at least make the toddler stop in his tracks before he decides to wreak havoc in some corner of the house. Your toddler has noticed that the best way to get your attention yelling or play wise, is to do some funny business. You yell and yell and yell..
Then one day your child yells back at you. You yell louder. There are tears, hugs, sloppy kisses and promises to never yell. But somehow you just cannot stop yourself. The next time you find something out of line – you don’t think, you only yell.
The scenes, scenarios and ages of children will vary, but in most households this is the cycle.
You need to stop yelling
Everyone will agree that yelling is not healthy and has to stop. But the how to is the difficult part. Yelling is easy, it is the keeping from yelling in difficult situations that is incredibly challenging. It does in no way mean you are weak or there’s something wrong with you if you yell at your kids. There are countless self-help books and therapists whose goal is to keep you from yelling. Research has shown that almost 90% of parents yell. This only shows that yelling is a very real problem and requires effort, lots of it.
But the fact is you need to stop yelling. It has consequences on your children’s developing mind and personality. Yelling scares babies and children and sends them wrong signals of how to resolve conflicts, seek attention. This has long term effects into their teen and adult years. Some kids withdraw into a shell and become what are called shy. They also develop mechanisms for how they deal with people when they go out into the world in the distant future. We don’t want a world full of people who will not action unless being yelled at, do we?
Also most importantly, yelling is so aggressive and combines force, fear, really ugly facial expressions and body language that it scares the hell out of kids into behaving or doing something. It does not teach them anything about positive behaviour. Kids do something when we yell because they want us to stop yelling. They haven’t learned a lesson or how to do things the right way.
This is why yelling has to stop.
How to practice yell free parenting
The journey will be hard and there will be perils along the way. But once you reach even a certain way into your goal, you will be happy you ever started. I myself am a yeller, but I am making baby step progress towards being yell free. My husband is the yell-free parent in our home, and he steps in to tilt the balance in favour of the goal on most days. But since I solo-parent most of the days, it is important that I achieve this target too. (Solo-parenting is also the reason I am yeller on most days. It is frustrating. Let’s save this for another time though.)
Decide that you want to make a change
The first step in being yell-free is to recognise and accept that you are a yeller, but there is nothing wrong with you. Recognising that there is a problem and you want to work on it is the best way to get started on a serious journey of improvement. Also think about the ways in which you will work on this issue – it could be different for every person. Decide that you won’t beat yourself up if you fail and have a yelling meltdown. But do remember in such moments that you want to make a change and get back on that journey.
Identify your triggers
For me, it was my many day-to-day frustrations that were causing me to resort to yelling. On most days I solo parent. It is physically exhausting. When I have no brain power and no physical power left, I still have to parent, in order to keep my child safe and alive. This caused me to rage sometimes.
My other trigger was deadlines – on my blog, on my social media and my professional commitments. And as you have with babies, the days when I had the most crucial deadlines is when my toddler acted up or wanted more of me. The intricacies of my work required that I post something at a certain time and be there to engage and respond. I couldn’t always get away with using a social media post scheduler.
Once I had identified my triggers I decided to work on those points. For solo-parenting I began to accept that this was our life and this is how it’s going to be for a few years. Accepting the situation took a long time and did not happen instantly at all. Same with deadlines. I realised I was taking on too much on to my plate. Wherever I could I began saying no and eliminating work which did not add value – monetary or otherwise. I also decided that if I did want to do some constructive work my toddler needed to be in school/ daycare and there was no reason to feel guilty about it.
Warn before yelling
My husband told me this one – he said I need to actually use the words, “I will yell at you” before I actually yelled. Sometimes my yells would happen when babyT was not facing me and had his back to me. My yells would actually jolt the living daylights out of him (tch-tch bad mother? Yes I admit it, but I am working on it too.)
Now I warn him, that I am reaching boiling point and I will yell. He usually modifies his behaviour instantly. But what is more magical is that most of the time when I hear these words, I make up my mind not to yell.
Time out strategies
Make your own list of time out strategies. I am sure everyone knows the popular ones like counting from 1 to 10 or 1000 if you like, screaming into a pillow, walking away, squeezing play-doh or a stress ball, jumping/ running/ dancing to get the energy flowing elsewhere or just doing something incredibly funny like walking like a chicken, talking in a funny voice and using laughter to defuse the situation. I sometimes, lie that I need to use the restroom and hide in there for 5 minutes till I am cool again.
But it is important you know what are your coping mechanisms when you don’t want to yell. So making a list is a good idea.
Don’t use the moment to teach something
If you’ve read my blog post about Whole Brain parenting, you would know by now what is the Left brain and the Right brain. To put it simply, the right brain is all about emotions, even the ugly ones. The Left brain is about logic, facts, numbers, figures and lists. Toddler meltdowns or even your own, are all the right brain stuff. It is a moment where the right brain is in overload. In such moments, the left brain does not get even as much as a peek into. So in these moments it is important to appeal to the right brain and attempt to pacify the feelings and emotions.
You can read about Whole Brain Parenting here.
Only when you have reached some state of balance in that part you must attempt to teach or modify the behaviour. This will not only be more productive but also make sense to the child who will be more receptive and in a happier place than in the moment of madness.
Work on your stress
In 99% of the cases it is the stresses and tensions of our life that make us blow our top. While it may be hard and sometimes seem next to impossible, it is important that we work on these stressors. Not just to be a better parent, but also to be a mentally and physically happy and healthy person. So work on being more Mindful.
Ask for help. Take breaks and do something which makes you happy. Demand time for unwinding – I usually disappear the moment my husband enters the house. If nothing, I just sprawl out on the sofa and breathe.
Don’t forget to kiss & make-up
Yelling does happen. And when it does most often we feel incredibly guilty. Saying sorry with a hug and lots of cuddles goes a long way in making children still feel the love. Use the opportunity to also explain why you went to the point of yelling. But remember this is not the moment to guilt trip them into thinking they did this to make mommy mad.
Calming and defusing the situation in this way most often it also drives home the point you were trying to make.
Save the yells
Being a parent is not about sailing on an unicorn coloured sailboat into an ocean which has calm waters. There will be times when your toddler will want to tip over the side of the boat and be one with the bottomless water body. Save your yells for moments like these – when they are in danger and need to be stopped immediately. In fact if you want to have any credibility when you shout, then stop yelling and really save it for the moments when you want to save them.
Look up the Orange Rhino method. It is a strategy to make you yell less and parent more. It has ways and strategies to help you on your yell free journey. Another wonderful resource by a blogger I look up to is this extensive work by Shailaja.
Read her blog here – Diary of a Doting Mom
The tips on her own journey and ideas for you to become a yell free parent have lent support and comfort to many parents like me.
To conclude, yelling is definitely not fun and most parents don’t want to do it. To become yell-free consistent and conscious efforts by you the parent will be required. The journey is surely difficult but worth it.
This blog post is part of a series for the #AtoZBloggingChallenge where my theme is
New Age Parenting: Parenting in 201x.
Read my theme reveal post here.
To read all the posts for the #AtoZChallenge go here – #AtoZ2018