Written by: Cally Worden
Having a good shout at your kids can sometimes feel like the only way to get them to listen. It’s not pretty, and it probably makes you feel bad inside, but it works. The occasional vent is harmless and can be very effective, but when shouting becomes the norm your kids quickly develop and immunity to it that renders it about as effective as a sun lounger made from ice. It can also make them frightened, and no-one wants to do that to their kids. If you think it’s time to tame your inner shouty-monster, then read on …
What Are Your Trying To Achieve?
When we shout at our kids it’s usually because we want to get them to do something (or stop doing something!). You wouldn’t do it to an adult (okay, we all probably know someone who does, but chances are it really gets your back up!) so why do we imagine it’s an effective approach to take with a child? People – kids and adults alike – are more likely to do something if they want to. Shouting may force your child into a certain behaviour, but the message it sends is that dominance and control is a good way to get what you want.
Don’t be surprised if they start to shout back at you – after all, you are their main role model. By shouting at them you are showing them it’s an acceptable way to behave. And the more you increase the pressure on them, the more resistant they are likely to become. So try adopting a more diplomatic and calm approach instead. You can still be firm, you just don’t need to yell.
Break the Habit
When shouting works, it’s an easy and reliable way to keep your kids in check. And as stressed parents easy solutions are always attractive. But there’s the rub. Shouting can quickly become a habit – you start to do it without even realising it. And habits can be hard to break. Step one is to recognise the behaviour in yourself, and Step two is to arrest it before it happens, and choose an alternative approach – if necessary allow yourself a short mental time-out to regroup. Pretty soon this new habit will replace the shouting one, and both you and your child will feel more at ease.
Adopt Alternative Persuasion Techniques
Appealing to the better nature of children can seem like an uphill struggle. They can be infuriating in their warped sense of reality and baffling approach to logic. The trick is to place yourself in their shoes, and work out what motivates them. Find that trigger in each situation, and appeal to it.
If you want your child to stop a game and tidy up, for example, they are likely to feel annoyed about being interrupted. Acknowledging this is a very powerful tool, as is offering attractive alternatives. Upselling the benefits of what you want them to do is not always easy (see, tidying toys away can be FUN!), but if you think hard enough it’s always possible to put a positive slant on every situation. (The toys will be easier to find tomorrow – let’s give your favourite ones pride of place!)
Rewards and Games
Kids are all about fun, and yelling in a grumpy manner is not going to send the right message about what you are wanting them to do. Changing your own view of things can help you to avoid battles and create entertaining ways of getting what you want. You will probably enjoy the result more too. Rewards are a great incentive – they don’t have to be material. Merely the promise of some one-on-one time with Mum or Dad soon after is enough to persuade most younger kids to work with you on the burning issue of the moment. Never underestimate the value of your attention, especially with younger kids.
Pick your Battles
A lot of shouting comes from parents feeling frustrated about things that seem important, but actually aren’t that big an issue. With patience and willpower you will find yourself more able to stop before you bellow, and ask your inner angry-bird if the thing you’re mad about is really that big a deal. Often, you’ll realise it’s not, and letting something slide by can feel liberating and contribute to a much happier you. Back off a little, and you’ll soon find that you don’t actually WANT to shout as much. And both you, and your children will benefit.