Why is it that kids always seem to want the things they know they can’t have or do?. And when you say “no” it ends up with them whining and sulking until you want to crack. If I have to be honest, it’s the whining that really gets my blood boiling, and like many parents, I admit there’s times I overreact and just lose it!
Only to be racked with guilt afterwards – wishing I could have handled the situation better.
But hands up who hasn’t lost their cool?
Why yelling at your kids is not good for them
According to a report 89% of parents admit to flying off the handle and screaming at their kids when they’ve had enough. But psychotherapist and parenting expert Alyson Schafer, author of Ain’t Misbehavin’: Tactics for Tantrums, Meltdowns, Bedtime Blues and Other Perfectly Normal Kid Behaviors explains that if screaming and shouting is the main way you discipline your kids, it can sap your kid’s sense of security and self-esteem.
She explains that it’s scary for kids when you start screaming at them. This is because it switches on their “fight or flight” response while shutting down their logical thinking. In other words, when you raise the volume of your voice to its highest pitch, all it does is teach your kid to do the same when they’re upset.
What to do
Experts will assure you that if you yell at your kids now and then, it’s not the end of the world. But, they do agree that when you do, it’s really important to say sorry to your child for shouting at them afterwards. And also to admit you could have handled things differently.
It also helps if you can identify the situations that usually trigger your yelling. Maybe it’s in the morning, when you’re worried about getting to work on time and they’re dawdling, they start arguing and fighting in the car, or they’re having a meltdown because they can’t have McDonalds. In this way you can plan how best to react next time your kids push your buttons so you’re more in control of your emotions.
Here are some things you can try when you want to yell at your kids:
- If your toddler wants a sweet and won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and you’re nervous that she’ll cry and scream until you give in, try to find a compromise instead of getting into a battle of wills. Remind her that, “We don’t have sweets before dinner”, and then offer her some choices: “Would you like this Spiderman yoghurt or this juicy strawberry?” This will make her feel like she has some control over the situation. You can also try to defuse the drama by doing something funny, like pulling out a crazy dance move. Putting her in a better frame of mind will hopefully help you reach a middle ground where she is willing to reach a compromise with you.
- Running late for work and your little one is still dragging her feet? Instead of nagging her to hurry up, the advice is to say it once – and not give her any reminders. Tell her you’re leaving the house in 15 minutes and hope she’ll be dressed and ready. If she isn’t, pick her up as is and put her gently, but firmly, in the car. PJs, and with her school bag or not. Next time she’ll know you mean business!
- One kid starts to pester the other, and pretty soon, all hell breaks loose. Instead of screaming at them to stop their fighting – before you lose it, pull off the side of the road, turn around in your seat and tell them you can’t go any further until they’ve sorted it out. The trick then is for you to turn back, sit quietly and read a book, apply your makeup or sort through your bag… whatever it takes until they’ve simmered down. By staying calm and collected, experts reckon you make it clear you’re not going to take sides, and you set an example for how your children should behave with each other.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.