We know that sometimes it feels like you’re about 3 seconds away from losing your mind. You’re running late, someone is crying, there is a pile of toys that needs to been picked up. It’s easy to let things boil over until your patience is maxed out!
But studies have shown that yelling can be detrimental to a child’s long-term emotional health, and isn’t effective in curbing behavioral problems. Take a look at some of these other tactics for staying in control and disciplining kids without raising your voice.
1. Set Clear Rules & Consequences. Then Stick to Them.
Kids benefit from some sort of structure when it comes to rules, boundaries, and consequences for their actions. Establish your ground rules and consequences as early as possible so that there are no surprises.
Once they’re set - it’s important to stick to them!
Here are a few ideas for consequences:
Removal from a situation (10 minute break from play-time)
Loss of a privilege (screen-time or play date)
2. Communicate “Why”
Gone are the days of “because I said so.” Kids are more logical than we give them credit for. They benefit from structure, boundaries, and understanding why the rules are in place. Rather than yelling, “Stop that!” try explaining why you’d like for them to stop.
Ex: “Your sister needs her personal space, and she feels frustrated and overwhelmed when you crowd her like that.” Or… “When you yell at me it hurts my feelings and it feels aggressive. Can you let me know what’s on your mind in a quieter voice?”
Explain to them why it’s important to be on time (other people are inconvenienced if you are late), or why their bedtime is at 8pm (getting a good night’s sleep will make them feel better tomorrow). They are more likely to respond positively to a rule when they understand the “why.”
3. Get to the Root of Your Anger
When you feel like you’re about to bubble over - before yelling, consider where the anger is coming from. This is particularly important for nannies/sitters and parents that deal with a lot of stress and anxiety. It’s so important to be in touch with the root of your anger so that you don’t project your own feelings onto the kids.
Ask yourself: “Am I really upset over their behavior? Or is there something beneath the surface within my own life that is causing my frustration?” When you’ve figured out the answer, only then should you move forward with any sort of discipline. If your energy is negative, they may simply be reflecting what you’re projecting.
4. Positive Reinforcement
Negative consequences are important for adjusting poor behavior, however equally as important is positive reinforcement! Especially when a child is working on a new skill (like sharing or listening), positive reinforcement helps to build self-esteem as well as provide incentive for perpetuating a good behavior.
When a child trusts that they’ll receive a positive response for good behavior, the habit will build naturally, and you’ll find less of a need for raising your voice.
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