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Raise your hand if you’ve ever yelled, screamed or otherwise lost your cool on your kids? (every mom in the world raises hand). And raise your hand if it’s ever made you feel guilty, sad, frustrated or sorry? (again, every mom in the world raises hand). Obviously, we all know it sucks to be a yeller. But how the hell do you stop exploding on your kids when they’re nonstop bickering, testing boundaries, or otherwise driving you insane? I’ve got an awesome list of ways to stop screaming at your kids below – keep scrolling!
NOTE: this is the third of a series of F.I.V.E. (yes, five) posts about tactics/resources/a gameplan for yelling/raging less – sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss one!
A disclaimer for every tip, technique or resource in this post… I haven’t tried them all. And I’m NOT an expert. You should try whatever combo works for you, and what works for your friend and her kids may be a big fat fail for you and yours, and that’s ok. I’m feeling so inspired and confident that something here will help stop you from losing your shit on your kids at least once, thus making you a happier and more ‘I-got-this’ mom. And that’s worth it to me.
Here’s a list of actual techniques and tactics you’ve used to yell at your kids less + suggestions from some great sources around the web + my new favorite quote about motherhood & yelling:
Actual Ways to Stop Screaming at Your Kids
One of my followers, Bren, created a 30-day no-yelling challenge for herself, where she literally has a chart and rates herself 1-10 daily. It may seem kind of silly but if you’re a visual person or super competitive, a system like this may be gold for you!
When your emotions are running high, say “mom needs 2 minutes before she can help you/answer you/etc” – and walk away. Hide if you need to. It not only gives you a chance to chill but it teaches your kids to also Take 5 when they’re having a moment of frustration.
Adult Time Out With a Positivity Pledge
Similar to stalling above… Literally, give yourself a timeout in your room BUT don’t continue the negativity there because you’ll just work yourself up further. Deep breathing and something to distract you can help. Think of yourself like your child when he goes to his room – the goal is to cool off, not stew in your rage.
Being intentional – and breathing deeply – is a great way to slow yourself down when you’re about to explode. Try a full 5-count inhale and a 5-count exhale – can be SO good for not only buying you time before you react but also to physically tell your body to calm the hell down. This takes effort and lots of practice, but it’s so worth it and a free way to relax anywhere you are and in any situation.
Come Up with a Mantra
This kind of goes along with mindfulness but any time you’re about to lose your shit, have a go-to phrase or saying that you can literally visualize in your mind. “They’re just kids” or “I’m the mom, it’s my job to be the mom” or even just seeing the word “breathe” in your head can help you stay cool.
Act Like The Adult
This may seem like a big ol’ duh but it can be helpful to remind yourself that 1. You’re the adult. 2. You’re the role model. 3. You love your kids. And 4. Your kids love you. Seems so simple but I know I’ve needed to be reminded of those four simple things on multiple occasions.
Make a list of what you DON’T want to say
This tip came from this article about being a kinder mom and I it was a unique idea I hadn’t thought of before… the author literally made a list of things she didn’t want to say to her children, that she never wanted them to remember hearing from their mother’s mouth. On her list? “What’s wrong with you?” – sometimes it takes thinking of the worst to make sure it never crosses your lips.
If you work at home (like me!) – stop multitasking. Uhhh what? How am I supposed to get shit done? Instead of trying to make lunch and answer an email and let the dog out and schedule a makeup session of gymnastics, block out the time for each activity. For instance, 5 minutes to make lunch, answer all emails from 1-2pm, etc. I can definitely see how this would help, tough to implement, but worth a try.
Be an Example
Ugh, this one really hit home for me. I don’t want my kids to be rage-y lunatics who are prone to yelling at their kids (or anyone, for that matter). But they’re learning alllll my behaviors, even if I don’t think of myself as their teacher in a traditional sense. From this article: “Kids watch your every move, and, especially for babies and very young children, parental behavior proves to be far more powerful than words,” says Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums & Tears. “From how you handle stress to how you celebrate success to how you greet a neighbor on the street, your baby is observing you and finding out how to respond in various situations.” – noted. Just further reinforcement that it’s time to make a positive change.
This is a technique from this post that really resonated with me as something I need to add to my toolbox to combat emotional explosions. Zoom out, meaning that when your healthy, developmentally appropriate child is doing something annoying as hell, there’s a mother somewhere else in the world struggling to feed her children, or families being displaced due to war. It’s meant not to minimize your struggle, because being a mom is freaking hard even when you have health and plentiful resources, but it might just help you reign it in with a little healthy perspective.
Have a Plan in Place
If there’s something your kids are doing OVER AND OVER AND OVER (whhhyyyyy?!), and you’re reacting differently each time, you’re wasting time. Scene: Quinn and Cooper are fighting over what show to watch on Netflix for the millionth time. Literally, this happens every single day. Instead of mediating and deciding who is less volatile and thus more likely to be ok with their sibling “winning”, I need to have a default result so they know what to expect every time they disagree. Having a default not only lets your kids know what to expect, but it also takes out the emotion or decision-making element for you. Win/win.
The Rule of 9
Be a *really* good, kick-ass, present-as-hell mom for 9 minutes a day. The first 3 minutes they wake up, the last 3 minutes before bed, and the first 3 minutes when they get home from school/you pick them up from wherever they are. These are the collections of minutes that have a strong impact and allow you to start off on the right foot and finish the day strong.
Hair Tie Trick
Have you heard of the hair-tie trick? The premise is that you put 5 hair ties or rubber bands around one of your wrists in the morning. When you lose your cool or say something unkind, you move a band over to the other wrist. You can ‘gain a band back’ to the ‘nice side’ by doing or saying 5 different things that are kind/healing to your child. The idea is that for every one negative interaction, you need five positives to cancel it out. The rubber bands serve as a visual to slow you down before you’re angry, which I like.
Visualize Your Relationship
Similar to the hair-tie trick above, but a little different… :). My reader Sarah said to envision a jar of coins to represent your relationship with your kids. Every time you lose it with them, the jar is empty and you have to rebuild the coins with positive interactions. It’s really similar to the whole “rubber band” idea above but it might help you to visualize it in a different way :).
In the spirit of us being in this motherhood thing TOGETHER and getting through the ugly moments, I’ve got a series of posts to help you. Here’s everything in my series about yelling at your children less and being a happier mom. I have two more coming each Monday for the next two weeks – sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss one.
Confessions from Moms Who Yell + My Story as a Yeller – Read it Here
My Game Plan for Being a Nicer, Happier Mom – Read it Here
Actual Ways to Help You Stop Screaming at Your Kids
The Best Resources, Books, Blogs & Podcasts for Moms
Tricks to Use on Your Kids to Help Them Behave Better and Drive You Less Insane