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Ever since my boy was born, I have been trying to be a gentle mom and to raise my child with love and respect. Gentle parenting taught me a lot of precious lessons, but this journey of raising my son without threats or punishments is not an easy one! I constantly need to learn to deal with new challenges in the right way and to repair the mistakes that I make along the way! When I wrote about what helped me become a calmer mom, I realized that one of my biggest struggles is to prevent raising my voice when I get angry! Every time I get mad with someone I tend to raise my voice or even yell if I’m really angry and I didn’t want to let this affect the relationship with my son. So I realized that in order to be the gentle mom that I want, I need to learn to prevent yelling at my child.
If you are struggling with the same issue, I’ve gathered here a lot of ideas that could help you too! These are all the lessons that I’ve learned to try to prevent yelling at my child. They were really useful for me and I think that they could work well for you too!
1. Finding a strong motivation
There is nothing better than a strong motivation when we want to make a change! For me, the strongest motivation to prevent yelling at my child is acknowledging the powerful negative effects of yelling. There are a lot of studies that show that yelling is not only ineffective in disciplining the children but it’s also harmful to their development.
Yelling scares kids! It makes them feel disconnected and less willing to share their feelings with us! Here are some strong reasons why yelling is not good for kids:
– when parents yell, the children use a defense mechanism that prevents them from really learning what parents try to teach them
– if parents yell often, kids learn not to listen until they are yelled at
– yelling at children makes them react the same way when they are angry; they are more likely to yell at others and become aggressive
– studies show that kids that are often yelled at can become adults with lowered self-esteem, more inclined towards violence and more likely to deal with depression.
2. Learning to see the child’s misbehavior in a different way
We tend to raise our voice when we feel that the kids are disrespectful or when we take their behavior personally. Instead, it really helps to see things in a different way! Children usually misbehave when their emotions overcome them. They don’t know how to deal with intense emotions and the bad behavior is their way of asking for help.
It’s hard to think like this when you’re angry, but it could really make a difference! Every difficult moment that we face as parents is a chance to teach our children to manage their emotions better. When you look at the child’s behavior as a learning opportunity, it’s easier to control and prevent the yelling!
So I always try not to take the misbehavior personally. Instead, I try to discover the reason behind it and help the child deal with it! This shift of perspective not only allows me to prevent getting angry very often but also helps prevent a lot of future misbehaviors.
3. Managing my own emotions to prevent yelling at my child
I once read that managing our own emotions is the most important task as parents. And it’s so true! As soon as we manage to deal with our strong feelings, we become better parents and valuable role models for our children. Yelling is only a reaction caused by the negative emotions that we cannot keep under control. Once we learn to manage them better, the impulse of raising our voice will fade away.
It may seem simple, but putting this into practice can be really challenging! Here are 3 things that work very well for me and I think that can help other parents too:
– identifying the triggers and finding better ways to react
It’s really useful to identify exactly what triggers the yelling (or the impulse of doing this). A helpful exercise is to observe your behavior during a week and to write down all the moments when you wanted to raise your voice (or you even did it). At the end of the week, you will be able to see if there are any recurrent triggers on the list. I used my list to analyze my feelings and discover the reasons behind my anger. For the most common situations, I did an exercise and I tried to find a better way to react. For each difficult situation on my list, I asked myself: What is really bothering me about this? How can I prevent this situation from happening again? How can I react better next time this happens?
Sometimes we cannot find answers to all the three questions. But it can be that only one answer is enough to help us solve the problem. Here are 3 examples to see exactly how one of the answers helped me in particular situations:
[example] What is really bothering me about this?
– Sometimes I felt that I wanted to raise my voice when Bogdan refused to do something that I asked. The reason behind this is that in my childhood I was always told that children must listen to their parents all the time. This kind of disobedience seemed so disrespectful and made me feel that I have no control over the situation. The impulse of raising my voice was caused by the fact that I felt that I had to regain control over the situation.
The truth is that yelling never really helps with this. My child is not misbehaving because he wants to be disrespectful. He is just having a bad time and needs my help to get over it. A gentle approach is always better and it also makes the child become more cooperative. Keeping this in mind helps me prevent raising my voice in these kinds of situations.
[example] How can I prevent this situation from happening again?
– Sometimes I felt that I wanted to raise my voice when we needed to go out in the morning and Bogdan was not ready on time. The truth is that it wasn’t his fault that our mornings were so chaotic. I realized that I needed to find a solution to make our morning more enjoyable for everyone. Once I found this solution things became far easier. And I didn’t feel angry anymore. 🙂
[ If you face the same issue, here is the solution that we found: How to create an effective morning routine for kids (+morning checklist printable) ]
[example] How can I react better next time this happens?
– There are a lot of examples when the answer to this questions helped me. Even if we try to be gentle and calm all time, it’s impossible not to make mistakes. So we sometimes overreact and we raise our voice. We cannot change what already happened, but we can learn to do better next time. If I raise my voice, I always tell my child afterward that I’m sorry. I explain to him that it was not good to raise my voice and I apologize.
Then I try to think about the situation and find a better way to react if it happens again. Thinking about a different solution allows our brain to learn the right reaction. Next time when a similar situation happens we will already have the solution in our mind. This will make it easier to prevent the yelling and to choose the right approach.
– preparing for the difficult situations
This is a very useful tip that I learned. Any child has particular situations that make him feel uncomfortable. There are a lot of examples of such moments: from particular events like going to the doctor to daily activities like going to bed at night or leaving home on time in the morning. These situations often cause misbehaviors and become really difficult for the parent.
This is why it’s very helpful if the parent is preparing himself emotionally to handle this. Before starting to deal with the situation, I always try to get in a very calm mood. I tell myself that the situation is difficult for the child too. And that if I manage to handle it well, this will be great for both of us. I prepare myself for what could come next: a long negotiation, a tantrum, a long cry. Acknowledging that this could happen and being prepared for it makes things a lot easier. Every time that I allow me some time to prepare emotionally for a difficult situation, I don’t feel the impulse to raise my voice and I manage to stay calm.
– calming down before taking any decision
This is the golden rule of positive discipline. It’s bad to take any decisions while we are angry and upset. Because this would only make us overreact and make things that we’ll regret. The same rule applies with yelling. Every time we feel the urge to yell, we should literally shut our mouth. It is better not to say anything if we know that we cannot say it with a calm voice. If you feel that you want to yell, it’s better to take a time-out. This will allow you to calm down and to return to the situation with a positive attitude.
Calming down is easier if you take deep breaths. Splashing cold water on your face also helps to get away from the angry state. Another simple trick is to slowly count to ten while letting go of the anger.
4. Trying the exact opposite reaction
This is a very helpful idea that I recently discovered. Basically, it says that when we feel that we want to raise our voice, we should try the opposite reaction. Lowering our voice will not only help us calm down but will also get the child’s attention. The lower voice will send a calming message and will prevent things from escalating. When we turn the volume down, kids are more receptive because they know we have something important to say.
I’m still in the phase of implementing this in my life, but it already seems a great idea!
5. Asking for help
Parenting can be overwhelming. It’s very hard to handle all the situations with calm and to prevent all the yelling. But we can do this if we have some help. Lately, I tried to ask for my husband’s help when I’m angry and it works great! Basically, if I feel that I am not able to handle a situation without feeling that I want to raise my voice I ask for his help. I explain to him that I need time to calm down and that he needs to take over the situation. I go to another room and he deals with Bogdan in a calm manner. When I feel calm again, I go back to them and I handle the situation in a right way.
This is far better than getting angry or overreacting and it gives me the opportunity to manage my own emotions. If you can do this with your partner, I would totally recommend it!
A hard but rewarding journey
If you are dealing with that strong impulse of raising your voice anytime you get angry, I just want you to know that you are not alone! I understand how you feel because I felt exactly the same. And I still feel this impulse, and I still raise my voice sometimes. The good news is that it gets easier. It’s in our power to fight against that impulse and to make the commitment not to yell. We need a lot of self-control and we will probably still make mistakes from time to time.
But it works! Learning to deal with our emotions and control them is hard but also extremely rewarding! In time, it gets easier and it feels great! I read that this process of getting rid of the impulse of yelling means basically re-wiring our brain. And this is amazing!
The reward is not only being able not to yell at our children but also being able not to feel the impulse of doing it! When I made the commitment to be a gentle mom I never imagined that this would mean so much work with my own emotions. But this is an incredible journey and I really feel that it can make me become a better person!
If you are also willing to raise your child without yelling (or the give up on doing this), I really hope that this article is helpful for you! Taking this challenging journey of being a gentle parent is totally worthwhile!