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December 01, 2022

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Mom yelling at Girl-- child-like illustration

Stop Yelling to Motivate Your Kids More

If you find yourself yelling at your kids a lot, there's a good chance they've stopped listening to you!

Every parent yells at their kids once in awhile, but if you can manage to stop, you’ll all be better off. When yelling is your go-to method of communicating your expectations, it can end up back-firing. Kids who are frequently yelled at will begin tuning out the yeller. Or, they may begin yelling themselves. What is the best way to motivate kids without yelling? Here are ideas:

School Mornings, Expectations, Etc.

To stop yelling at your kids, establish clear rules and expectations and make sure your kids understand what those are.

“Remain consistent in applying the consequences so that it is known that rules have value, says Kara Thomas, a mom and preschool teacher.
For example, if school mornings are difficult, set rules that help the kids follow thru to make things run more smoothly. Create a routine so your kids know what to expect and what needs to be done next. Set rules such as: everyone needs to be dressed, fed and with shoes on and bags packed before playtime. Similar routines can be set for bedtime.

Next, be sure your kids know what behaviors are not acceptable in your home (hitting, fighting, being disrespectful). Also, make sure your kids understand the consequences for breaking a family rule. When they break a rule, they won’t be surprised by the consequences.

Give Positive Reinforcement

A kid who receives constant negative feedback (yelling) will start to feel bad about themselves. A kid who receives positive feedback will have more self-confidence and a better attitude overall. Aim to encourage and give as much positive reinforcement as possible when dealing with your kids. Amy Morin, psychotherapist and bestselling author of 13 Things Strong Kids Do (Harper Collins; 2021) agrees.

“Give your child plenty of positive attention to reduce attention-seeking behaviors,” Morin says. “This includes setting aside one-on-one time each day to motivate your kids to keep up their good work. Praise your kids when they follow the rules at home.”

Examine Yourself

If you have noticed that you yell at your children more than you would like to, think about it. Are you rushed? Too busy? Frustrated? Do you need a break? Sometimes we don’t realize how often we are raising our voices. Consider asking someone to let you know when you need to cool down and approach the situation differently.

If you’re yelling because your kids don’t listen the first time you speak, try new strategies to get their attention, Morin suggests. You can try giving instructions without raising your voice. You can also give yourself a time-out to gather your thoughts if you feel your irritation growing.

If your children are older, you can also ask them for help in changing your behavior by allowing them to point out when you are yelling. In advance, come up with some ideas of what you can try instead of yelling. For instance, if your child will not put on her shoes, ask her to race to see who can do it faster. If you feel the urge to yell, walk into a room where your child can’t hear you and mutter whatever you wanted to yell. This should allow you to return to the situation more calmly. Let your kids know in advance what the consequences of bad behaviors will be. If the behavior occurs, calmly follow through with the consequences.

Ask for Help

One way to avoid yelling is to ask your child to help you solve a problem you are faced with. If you are expecting company and the house is a mess, you can present the situation as a problem that you need help solving. “Our friends are coming over in 30 minutes and there are toys all over the floor. What should we do?” You may find that when it is presented this way, your child will come up with the solution that you want. If they don’t come up with the solution that you were looking for, make sure to tell them what you need from them and give them clear guidelines on what you expect to happen.

Be Understanding

As parents, we often forget that our kids are just that — kids. Their behavior is not going to be perfect or rational all the time. They may have something going on that they haven’t shared with you, they may be overtired, or they may be frustrated or worried. All of these things can cause them to act out or forget to do what is expected of them. Try to be understanding, validate their feelings, and listen to what they have going on at school or with friends and siblings. Simply talking about their feelings and strengthening your relationship with them will help motivate them to listen and obey you in the future.

 

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