1. Understand the danger of screaming at your kids.
A scream’s high volume is not its true danger. It’s okay to yell, “I love you, sweetheart!” at the top of your lungs. But most of the time when we scream at our children it’s because we are angry, frustrated, or bitter. Screaming shows our children that it’s okay to lose control when angry, the exact opposite of what we want to teach.
2. Recognize the futility of screaming at your kids.
Parenting expert Scott Turansky says “Yelling and things like that are really manipulation. We’re using emotional intensity to get action. The problem is that emotional intensity garbles the message. There’s power in words and yelling diminishes that power.” Turansky goes on to say that we want our children to hear, “Obey my words.”
3. Remember your role.
When things get heated between you and your child, you might feel like matching his yelling and temper tantrum with one of your own. Try not to. I’ll never forget when my 11-year-old daughter was giving me the silent treatment. I turned to my uncle, who happens to be a child psychologist, and offered my own response to her silence, “So I should just give her the silent treatment too, right?” I asked.
“No,” my uncle said calmly, “You’re the grown-up.” In other words, we need to be the voice of calm and reason, and maturity.
4. End it before you get angry.
A wise man once wrote, “Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.” When we go back and forth with our kids, letting them pull us into an argument, we are allowing the situation to escalate. Once we’ve told our children what we expect from them, and we’ve let them voice any questions or concerns they have about it, we need to be clear with them that the discussion time is over. If they keep attacking us with more questions or pleading, we need to calmly reiterate that the conversation is over. If we keep dialoguing, we run the risk of losing our temper.
5. Have a “scream” escape plan.
Just the other night I felt like screaming at my children. I was tired. I was in PMS. They were driving me crazy. I could’ve taken a deep breath and shared my expectations with them once again, but I didn’t have it in me. “I’m going for a walk,” I said. “Dad’s upstairs if you need him.”
And with that, I escaped long enough to cool down. If you don’t have the luxury of going for a walk, at least go in a separate room, put on some headphones, or go the bathroom. Leave before you lose it.
How do you keep yourself from screaming at your kids?
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