6 Steps to Stop Being a Parent Who Yells | The Forgiveness Method

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The Forgiveness Method

If you’re reading this, you’re possibly a parent who yells but is open to the thought of a better communication method. One where you can stay calm and have a peaceful home.

I hope by the end of this post you will feel encouraged and equipped to face whatever your child has to throw at you with peace in your heart and calm in your voice.

Can you imagine a home where yelling was not the default reaction to trouble? Can you imagine having a home where peaceful discipline was normal? 

When I raised my voice at my kids, it crushed me inside, not to mention what it did to them. In those moments, I knew I had crossed a line into disrespectful parenting, and I was hurting the relationship with my child out of frustration and desperation.

Because that’s what it is right? We are frustrated about behavior we don’t want to see and are desperate to have those behaviors stop. 

Regardless of how valid our feelings are in those moments, there are better ways to communicate and discipline. Abandoning the practice of yelling takes effort and time but it is both possible and necessary.


In the movie Little Women, Marmee, the mom, is sitting with her daughter Jo and shares something the young girl can barely believe about her loving, caring mother.

“But you’re never angry,” Jo presses. 
“I’m angry nearly every day of my life.” 
“You are?” 
“I’m not patient by nature. But with nearly 40 years of effort I’m learning not to let it get the better of me.”
“Well, I’ll do the same then,” Jo quietly replied.

Isn’t this what we’re trying to teach our children?

Your feelings are real and most likely even valid, but your behavior is how others will define you.

In the movie, everyone sees Marmee as patient, loving, and kind when she shares the truth with her daughter. We can be angry and still choose to care and love.

At this point in the movie, my husband said to me, “You’re going to be able to say that to our kids one day”. I may not be patient by nature but I hope that from the effort I put in now, my kids won’t have to have that instinctual, angry yell as I do. 

So How Do We Begin?

Let’s remove all initial arguments of “What if my kid is about to run into traffic?” YES, of course. There truly are situations to raise your voice and get their attention. I am talking about the day-to-day situations that cause us to overreact and yell at our kids. 

If you have a cultural defense for yelling, I am from an Italian family and was raised in New York. I don’t know if there is a louder combination of cultures that exists in the world. We are the kind of people who yell while we talk about the weather.

As much as we think that cultural stuff is lovable, not all culture is healthy. We need to adapt in order to build stronger, healthier families for the future.


We need to get rid of the discipline yell 

The first couple of times I tried this on my daughter you could see the relief on her face. She was a strong-willed toddler, learning all the ways of life and I was a mom who expected her daughter to have complete self-control at the age of two. 

When I started yelling, I believed there was truly no other way to get her attention. I wanted to stay where I was, give an instruction, and have it be met otherwise I yelled.

I learned to get up off of my comfy tush, go over, meet her at eye level, and intervene in appropriate and effective ways. Read about the fantastic gentle discipline strategy I learned and the cooperation tactics I use to help in such situations.

Yelling is not necessary to stop or correct our children.


How to stop yelling at our kids pin

1. What to Admit

For this method to work it’s not good enough to kind of believe that you shouldn’t yell.

Let’s pretend for a second that yelling is effective. “If I yell, my child does as I say.” The effects that yelling has on our children and our relationship with them, prove it to be a practice that isn’t worth it.

Take a look at this article from betterhelp.com about the effects of yelling at children.

“YELLING AT A CHILD CAN RESULT IN BOTH SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS. IN THE SHORT TERM, A CHILD WHO IS ON THE RECEIVING END OF YELLING MAY BECOME AGGRESSIVE, ANXIOUS, AND WITHDRAWN. IN THE LONG TERM, THEY MAY DEVELOP ANXIETY, LOW SELF-ESTEEM, DEPRESSION, AND A NEGATIVE VIEW OF THEMSELVES. THEY MAY EXPERIENCE SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS AND DISPLAY BULLYING BEHAVIOR AND AGGRESSION AS WELL.”

We need to be sold out in our commitment to stop yelling and become deeply aware of the destruction it brings.


It’s a problem

Yelling at ANYONE is belittling, and painful for everyone involved (you, whoever you’re yelling at, and the neighbors who have to listen!), and inevitably hurts the relationship. 

If we are honest, yelling often, if not always, comes with a good dose of shame and guilt attached to what we are yelling about. No human can become better when they are buried in shame or guilt.

Overreacting is essentially our adult temper tantrum. This response takes the focus off of the action we are trying to correct. We want our children to take responsibility for their misbehavior when in reality they are thinking, “Mom is crazy” or “Dad is so mean” instead of “Oh no what did I do?”

Many people believe yelling “is just how I am” but we can’t continue to be this way. 


What Our Children Deserve

I don’t want people outside of our home speaking to my children by yelling. I don’t my kids to be okay later in life with bosses and a husband or friends flying off the handle at them when they make a mistake.

I believe my kids deserve better from others, therefore I need to give them better from me. 

Our homes need to be places that cultivate an atmosphere of peace, joy, and above all, unconditional, sincere, love. 

And love doesn’t yell. 

If you don’t believe this to be completely true the following steps might prove to be fruitless.

2. How to Commit

IT IS HARD. Can we just acknowledge that change is so flipping hard? Therefore, the most important internal thing we can do is accept the pain that this change will bring.

The pain of holding your tongue when you want to flip out. The pain of staying emotionally regulated when losing our cool would feel appropriate due to the circumstances. The pain of denying ourselves the freedom of treating our kids however we feel like it because we are their parents.

Excuses are over, there is no alternate path, we must choose the way of emotional sacrifice.

We want the act of yelling to feel like clothes that don’t fit anymore, something we simply cannot bear to “wear”.

Think and confess, out loud if necessary, “I will not hurt the people I love and cause chaos in my home by yelling anymore.”


Commit to change

Even on the days you still yell, confess this! Don’t give up, every day is new and this goal is truly worth trying again and again. 

It absolutely is hard especially if you come from a home or culture that yells but…

YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS

Your family deserves nothing less than your best and we never deliver that to them when we yell. 

If you want to preserve your relationships and grow as a person COMMIT to quit. 

3. Apologize and ask for forgiveness
(every time)

If you think you can try these steps and skip the last two steps it won’t happen. 

The quickest way to stop yelling at your kids, IF you admit that it is a problem and are committed to change, is to apologize afterward by saying something like this: 

“I am sorry that I yelled at you, 
you never deserve to have someone speak to you that way, 
can you please forgive me for yelling? 
I am trying to stop.” 

Every. Single. Time. 

I promise that IF you are truly committed to quitting and you do this however many times a day you yell, you will be so sick of asking for forgiveness that you will quit and be desperate for alternatives. 

If some of you pause here and feel like you should never have to apologize to your child, I want to ask … why? Do our children not deserve our honesty and our humility? Are they not actual humans who deserve to be treated with respect? We should be apologizing to our children often!

And yes, even a few weeks down the road when you have succeeded in quitting but the yell may sneak its ugly head back into your home, you return to the apology. 

The most effective way to instruct their behavior is to model strength and maturity in our own behavior.

Important side note on forgiveness:

We need to forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. Our parenting goal is not perfection but honest, relentless effort to improve. You will not thrive when you bury yourself in shame and guilt. Take responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and receive it. 

I also taught my kids here, who thankfully always forgive me with their whole hearts, not to say “It’s okay” when I ask for forgiveness. I have taught them instead to say “I forgive you”.

I want them to know yelling is not a behavior they have to tolerate from anyone and it is actually not “okay”.

When I first started the intentional apologies with my daughter, she caught on quickly. If I yelled she would call me out and say, “Don’t yell at me!”. In the moment this feels like she’s being disrespectful but in reality, this is exactly what I hope her response to disrespectful treatment becomes.

4. Be Creative with Effective Discipline

To discipline our children is simply to teach, guide, and correct them. Every child needs respectful but consistent discipline to learn how to behave so they can succeed in life!



What Can I do?

As we already established, yelling can’t be our go-to method for discipline so what can we do?

I used to yell when I felt like I needed attention about an issue that I wouldn’t get without yelling. When I feel powerless. To get the reality of power back I need a discipline plan for each instance and I need to stick with it. 

We need to recognize our children’s issues as individual offenses and be creative with more effective and respectful methods of discipline and correction.

First, and most importantly, we have to understand that our children are not yet fully developed in a way where they can consistently handle their emotions and behaviors.

Even as an adult, I struggle to do the right thing every time otherwise why couldn’t I always think “I am going to stop yelling,” and then just quit cold turkey for the rest of my life? I’m also learning. One of our jobs as parents is to teach our kids how to regulate their emotions and control their behaviors. 


creative Discipline

Here’s an example of creative discipline: The kids are fighting with each other. Separate them into different areas with an activity. Explain that they are not able to get along so they should take some time for themselves. Are they arguing over a specific toy? The toy could be removed until the next day when they can try again.

Don’t jump to thinking the worst about them such as “Here we go again” or “They just won’t learn!”. Instead, take every offense as a bid for help. Give them a solution to their lack of self-control instead of a simple punishment.

Seek in your heart and with your words to give them a solution to the problem more than only consequence for bad behavior. You need to be on the same team as your child. Always assume that your children desire peace and unity as much as you do. 

Another example could be when our child hits someone. Those little hands move faster than their brains and we need to be present and intervene without villainizing the child. Children who bite or hit are not pure evil. They are dis-regulated, underdeveloped kids who don’t have a proper strategy for expressing their emotions yet.

So what do we do instead of yelling when our child hits?
First, we pay more attention and ask ourselves, “Which child has a tendency to hit, and what are the circumstances it’s likely to happen in?”.
Next, we try to jump in with our hands before the hit happens and gently prevent the child from hitting.
We then follow with a clear boundary saying “I won’t let you hit”.

Yelling at the perpetrator and sending them off to their room may seem appropriate and effective but it teaches them very little and damages the relationship.

Avoid:

Justifying: “I am sorry that I yelled, but I had to because…!
Blaming and shaming:You are making it so hard for me to stop yelling.”
Giving up: Keep in mind how you want to be treated.
Who thrives and gets better when someone is standing over them shouting all day? Absolutely NO ONE.
Think about how you want other people to treat your kids.
Think about how your kids want to be treated, if they accept being yelled at by us who else will they accept that from? 
Don’t give up.

Tomorrow is a new day. Give it a go!

Bonus tip: Try the whisper. Whatever you want to yell, try instead to get eye level and whisper. The words might not be perfect yet but this is a helpful middle step to break the cycle of yelling.  


5. Recognize your triggers and prepare for them

There comes a point for everyone when we simply have had too much. This is often when the yelling begins for those who are inclined to do so.

So, where do you snap?

Pay attention for a week and possibly even write down each situation that brings you to yell.
(This should be easy since you are apologizing after every yell anyway)!

Does your child have a certain behavior that triggers you?
Is there a common time of day when you’re more likely to yell?
Is there a specific pressure that pushes you there?

TriggerPossible Solution
Overstimulation
(Too much noise, touching, or things to do at once)
– Separate children to their own spaces or activity
– Get rid of toys that make noise
– Get outside with children
Running Late– Try to be EARLY to everything instead of on time
– Communicate your expectations with your child ahead of time
– Prepare everything in advanced
Back Talk– Expect it
– Don’t take it personally, have a sense of humor about it
– Use the discipline plan you have in place
(Ignoring the comment, time out, loss of privilege…)

My Trigger

One of my personal triggers is when my hands are full and my children won’t follow me as quickly or closely as I would like. I want them to see me struggling and respond appropriately. Ha!

They won’t.

And my yelling has only added to that stress every single time. And then I usually drop something. 

So I stopped filling my hands even if it meant having to make multiple trips. I planned my bags more strategically. I wore the baby instead of carrying her on my hip.

But most importantly I planned mentally.

I think: When ______ happens it makes me feel like ______ and I have to respond like______.


Having an awareness of our triggers will allow us to be better prepared when those unavoidable events with our kids occur. Becoming aware enables us to strategize our response better instead of yelling.

When we are aware of what’s coming we can respond intentionally instead of react emotionally.

The Military Wife and Mom wrote a fantastic post on her blog about why we yell. Read about the real reason why parents yell at their kids here.

6. Understand Why they misbehave

What Helped Me

At the beginning of my parenting journey, I read the book No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury. The title alone tripped me up because I thought “I have known some bad kids”.

Janet redefined everything I thought I knew about children, especially toddlers and temper tantrums. I went on to read No Drama Discipline by Dr. Dan Siegel and my mind was further blown.

Children are not fully developed. We see that physically but we underestimate what that means mentally.


the truth

We can’t look at a child and say “Stop getting so upset about the color of your cup” with the expectation that they will immediately let it go anymore than we can look at them and say “Be taller” and they will immediately grow.

Just as physical strength and development take time, so does the brain development that allows them to exercise self-control and emotional regulation. We need to be patient as we teach them that the color of their cup is a small problem and shouldn’t steal their joy.

Does this require us to allow any and all behaviors? Of course not. We are there to help them control the behaviors they can’t until they finally can. But we must do this without making them into little villains.

We can’t get mad at a child who has a tantrum over their cup color any more than we can get upset about a baby who cries for help.

Children are learning and developing in ways we can’t see and they need us to be their guide and safe place. They need us to look at them with love and unwavering correction as they do things that baffle and shock us.

Often times children copy what they see as much as we hate to admit it. When my child talks to their siblings I get to hear how it sounds when I talk to them and sometimes it hurts.

Final Thoughts

Seriously good on you for making the effort and caring about how your child is treated. I believe many of you are probably trying to break generational strongholds of yelling that has infected your family for years. Your child is blessed to have you.

I hope you grasp a deep satisfaction from staying calm in the face of our children’s chaos. Satisfaction from helping and guiding them in peace through their struggles, and seeing them with eyes of grace, compassion, and love.

The best thing we can give our children is a parent who is willing to learn and willing to apologize. One who tries again every day from the motivation of love.


6 steps to stop yelling at kids pin

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