News flash: you can’t stop yelling at your kids. Parents who tell you they don’t yell at their kids are lying to you. Articles that suggest 10 proven ways to stop yelling at your kids are click-baits. However, there is a peaceful, guilt free way of yelling at your kids, and here it is.
You might find the title and subtitles to this article somewhat weird, coming from a positive parenting coach, but the truth is that not yelling at our kids is impossible; with all the love in our hearts, sometimes we’re triggered, and then we burst. There’s nothing we can really do to stop yelling at our kids.
Is Yelling at Our Children Harmful?
Yes, yelling at kids is harmful. The way it is mostly done. When we are upset, we usually look for someone to blame for the way that we feel. I can’t believe YOU did that again; why do YOU ALWAYS do that to me? Why can’t YOU EVER; YOU are just impossible, and you already get where I’m going with this. The word “you” is always present when we yell at our kids (or anyone else, for that matter).
We automatically blame them for the way that we feel, for the big emotions we are trying to cope with. The problem here, is that blame accumulates, and grows within us. Blame is the main reason for which children grow up believing that they are not okay, that they are less worthy than other children, that they will NEVER be able to satisfy us. And if they can’t satisfy us, their loving parents, how would they ever satisfy anyone else? This is where all issues of self worth begin.
Why You Should, Actually, Yell at Your Kids
This probably sounds weird, too, especially following the previous paragraph 🙂 But yelling is a part of life; big emotions are a part of life. How can we possibly teach our little ones to accept their emotions, and to beneficially cope with them, if we’re not doing it ourselves? If we’re not giving our emotions the needed respect, and speak them out? So here it is guys, how you can yell at your kids without the emotional guilt trip, for yourself, and for them.
Learn a New Way of Yelling at Your Kids
Anger is a wake up call for unmet needs. I discussed it in how to address tantrums compassionately, and generally throughout this blog, but I usually addressed kids’ needs and feelings. Well, guess what? It is true for you as well. Your anger is a wake up call for your unmet needs. Yelling it out is a great way of admitting to your unmet need, and a great way of feeling a bit better, venting out and giving yourself the emotional space to solve the issue with peace.
Yelling at Kids – Without the Guilt
The guilt part here applies to you as much as it applies to your kids. Can you guess it already?
Lose the YOU, embrace the I.
I need order. I’m frustrated by this dirty house.
I need to sleep. I’m so tired that I feel completely detached from all of this.
I need cooperation. I’m so angry that I need to do everything myself.
I need peace. I’m very troubled by what just happened here.
I need connection. When I’m not listened to I feel lonely.
I need integrity. I’m extremely displeased when I can’t know what’s really going on.
When we address our needs and feelings, we take full responsibility for the way that we feel. We blame no one, we guilt no one. We can scream these needs and feelings out without inflicting our little ones with the burden of our feelings. And the best aspect of this strategy is that we never feel guilty afterwards, because we only addressed ourselves. Try it and you will see.
Taking Responsibility is Teaching Responsibility
Modeling this behavior will teach your kids the difference between “but he took it from me” and “I really wanted to play with it”; “why does she always take my stuff?” and “I really appreciate it when my things remain in my room”. Think about the change of automatic reaction when this way of Nonviolent Communication is practiced.
As human beings, resisting control is something we do instinctively, and getting defensive in light of an offence is another instinctual response of our fight/flight/freeze mechanism. However, when we are approached with an honest expression of needs and feelings that doesn’t blame us – we don’t feel attached, we don’t feel offended. Our defensive mechanism isn’t triggered and we are FREE to deal with what actually matters – the needs and feelings of our loved ones.
So is Yelling at Our Kids Ok?
Yes. Trying to change something that absolutely can’t be changed is a cause of further frustration. Accepting our feelings, and admitting to our needs when they are not met is key to a productive and beneficial relationship with our loved ones. Even if we’ll sometimes raise our voices while at it.
What is the Right Thing to Do After Yelling at our Kids?
But what is the right thing to do after you found yourself yelling at your children? For most parents, “sorry, oh I’m so sorry” is the automatic response. It’s not a wrong response, but an apology never amends anything. What it really is, is passing the responsibility – we did something wrong, we said sorry, and now it’s up to the little one to forgive us. We’re not accustomed to thinking this way, but this is a real burden.
Instead, give your child’s feelings a place of honor; knowing that we are seen for whatever lives within us in a given moment is more healing and connecting than anything else. “You were frightened when I raised my voice? You were so surprised you weren’t sure how you felt? You’re hurt that I raised my voice”? Seeing them is so simple, and so powerful. It restores the connection almost on the spot and it teaches them how to respond to big feelings, how to take responsibility, how to see the other, who we’ve hurt.
It will be a great bonus if you could also share why it happened, what you’ve snapped. “I had a terrible day at work, I’m so stressed lately. It’s harder on me to control myself when I’m like this. Want to just sit here with me for a minute or two, so we can both relax”?
Make it Happen
Give it a try; it might not feel very natural in the first couple of times, this is, after all – speaking a new language. But with in some time you will see that not only you will feel much better about the way you communicate, the reactions around you and to you will change from anger to compassion, from frustration to empathy. Because this is what compassion does – it breeds more compassion.
Share your thoughts in the comments below, or even better – join my parenting support group on Facebook, where raising our kids outside the social structure of guilt, fear, and shame is all we talk about 🙂