Now before I tell you what this parenting no-no is, I want to preface it by saying that I understand that kids can be incredibly frustrating. We may not like to admit it to our friends at the Mommy and Me playgroup, but parenting isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and sticky lollipop kisses. Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult and it can push us to the outer edges of our patience to places we didn’t even know existed before we had toddlers or preschoolers.
And yet most parents still feel this deep, dark guilt about getting upset with their little darlings. Why? Because if parents don’t have the skills for dealing with a situation, their default is to get angry and yell.
Understandable. But not useful.
We’ve all done it. We’ve all had those moments where we just lose it at our kid for singing a song 47 times in a row in the car or using our expensive new lipstick to write on the white walls or for not getting their shoes on after being asked over and over.
Not to mention the sleep. Or the lack thereof. Take a tired parent and a child who is at an age where their very existence revolves around trying to find ways to push your buttons and you’ve got a perfect storm. But here’s why yelling is not going to help you or your child in the long run.
How loud does your voice actually get?
If you take to yelling as a habit, your kid will get used to the volume and just keep pushing until you hit the next level of loudness. Kids with parents who yell start to eventually tune it out and it doesn’t have the shock value it started out with. Once you start screaming like a banshee because someone left their socks in the hall you will start to see how ridiculous it’s all getting.
I’m not saying you should NEVER yell. I’m saying don’t use it as an everyday tool. Use it when your kid is running out in traffic. Or about to put a fork in an electrical outlet. Or just hit her sister across the face with a book. You want your child to realize that when yelling happens, it’s because something very serious just went down. Not because they threw their cheerios on the floor.
So how do you avoid yelling? Well, we get most frustrated when we’re in the midst of chaos. Kids running everywhere, not listening, strung out on sugar and tearing around because they’re overtired. So what’s the solution?
Routine is your friend.
I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to have routines in place when you’re raising young kids. You will save yourself countless hours of frustration by having very clear expectations and sticking to them.
Pinpoint the times of day you are most likely to start yelling. For many parents it’s the end of the day when everyone is exhausted. All you need to do is set a bedtime and have three or four things that your child can count on happening before lights out. It could look something like this:
6:45: Brush teeth and get jammies on
7:00: Mom or Dad reads two books
7:15: Mom or Dad sings one song
7:20: Cuddle time
7:30: Lights out
Keep to this order every night and don’t deviate from it. You should not be freaking out at your kid at 8:30 saying, “You were supposed to be in bed an hour ago!” It is your job to enforce that timeline and keep to it.
Why a timer can be a lifesaver
A timer, you ask? What the heck does that have to do with yelling and discipline?
The timer is your friend. You will want to hug the timer, because it can save you so much grief. When you have a list of things you want your child to accomplish (like breakfast, shoes on, out the door, for example) tell your kids you will set a timer for 20 minutes and if they aren’t finished all the things on the list when the timer goes off, there will be a consequence. That consequence could be no treat in their lunch, or no TV show after school. Or, if the timer is set at bedtime, no story or song.
It sounds a bit harsh, perhaps, but kids actually LOVE to try and beat the timer. They will take it as a personal challenge.
Remember to be easy on yourself if you slip up and raise your voice. Parenting is hard, and we are all doing our best. But trust me, having systems in place will go a long way to reducing your frustration!
If you haven’t yet, you may want to check out Kids: The Manual. It’s a child-friendly discipline system that is designed to deal with some of the most common behavioral challenges in children ages 2-12. If you are tired of dealing with tantrums, whining, and fighting; click the link below.