Have you ever wondered if it were possible to parent without having to yell? Parents sometimes say that they considered themselves patient people—until their children were born. Frustrated moms too often raise their voices as a last resort to get their children’s attention. Sadly, yelling only diminishes our influence with our children and causes more hurt and frustration for everyone. So how can we get rid of it?
Like any other bad habit, yelling can be eliminated. But you need to have a battle plan, replacing yelling with other actions. What will you do when tension mounts in your home? These five ideas can jump-start you on your way to a more peaceful home.
Require First-Time Obedience
Anger is often the result of failing to discipline promptly. Many parents don’t expect first-time obedience. Instead, they plead with their child: “Johnny, if you’ll just come home now we can watch TV and have a snack,” repeat themselves: “I said you may not hit your sister!” or harangue: “Don’t you ever hear anything I say?” Frustration builds, paving the way for anger to erupt and leave hurt and regret in its wake.
Worse, we actually train our children not to obey when we delay giving a consequence. Children quickly learn that they don’t really have to listen until the situation is at a boiling point, and they’re smart enough to discern exactly when that is.
When I find myself becoming irritated at disobedience, it is a signal to me that I didn’t give a consequence when I should have. I stop myself and the children, make my instruction crystal clear, and then immediately but calmly follow through with a consequence at the first disobedience. This eliminates confusion and stress for all of us.
I like things to be done neatly and with a certain order. Because of this, I have to be especially aware of how many directions I give my children. For example, in the kitchen I might tell them they didn’t crack the egg the right way, they should wipe the counter immediately after making a mess, the milk lid must instantly be put back on the container, not to use that particular spatula, and so on. The result is a recipe for frustration!
Like me, your irritation could be a result of too much correcting. If this is the case, consider the directives you’re giving. Are they really necessary? As parents, our job is to differentiate between childishness—innocent actions all children do—and foolishness—that which results in harm to them, someone else, or our property. Rules are important for children. But parents should choose reasonable rules that make sense. When possible, relax and give them the freedom to be kids.
Keep Things Close
Instead of shouting across the house or playground to get your child’s attention, have them come close to you. Make a habit of speaking softly to them so that only they can hear. This enhances your sense of control, it keeps the issue private, and it eliminates the need for your voice to escalate.
This is a wonderful way to restrain yourself when you’re about to blow up in frustration! Showing anger becomes nearly impossible when you whisper. Whispering also gives the added benefit of getting your child’s attention by a change of tone. This idea comes straight out of the Bible: “A soft answer turneth away wrath…” (Proverbs 15:1). Give it a try!
Reduce the Need to Hurry
Children do not have a concept of buses missed or church services that won’t wait. I often find that I am rushing, they are not, and I am getting angry. This only adds to the tension of getting out the door.
The fact is, many times I’m hurrying on account of my own unpreparedness. I could have packed the diaper bag the night before, laid out clothes, or given clear instructions to the children about what to expect. But I didn’t. Now, as I run around like a mad hen, the children pay the price for my lack of preparation. When possible, eliminate the need to rush by planning ahead. The relationships you have with your children are far more important than getting to a place on time.
Make Your Home a Better Place
As the momma, you have the primary role in influencing the home atmosphere. Consistent choices to be patient and calm will yield beautiful rewards. The steps you take to eliminate yelling and strife will affect not only your children, but likely your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
You don’t have to yell!
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue . . .” (Proverbs 18:21)