Do you know how to not yell at your kids? Because I told myself I would never be “that mom” and I totally am that mom. I yell not because I like to, and not even because it “works,” but because it is an auto-response for me; it is the quickest and easiest way to respond.
My booming voice gets my daughter’s attention (which is nice in the moment), but doesn’t hold her attention for long—not to mention by the time we begin calmly talking, she has forgotten all about what she did that caused me to yell at her. She ends up scared and I’ve lost an important teaching moment. But lately, I have found other ways to grab my daughter’s attention when she is misbehaving. And they actually work! Next time you want to yell, try these 7 moves instead.
1. Lower your voice to a whisper.
If you want to know how to not yell at your kids, this might be enough to convince you: When you yell, your kids will eventually learn to tune you out. Sure, at an elevated volume, they will hear you, but they probably won’t actually listen to what you’re saying. If you want your kids to raise their ears and pay attention to what you have to say, drop your voice to a whisper. This little trick often will get them to stop what they’re doing and come nearer to you so they can hear.
If you want your kids to raise their ears and pay attention to what you have to say, drop your voice to a whisper.
2. Squat down to their level and make eye contact.
Imagine someone two or three times your size towering over you while shouting in your direction. Talk about scary! I would want to look away too. Instead, bring yourself down to their level and look them in the eye while you speak to them. Adding a gentle touch, such as holding their hand or placing your hand on their shoulder, can also hold their attention as you connect with them.
3. Go silent and wait.
Kids expect a reaction. Many times, it’s exactly why they’re acting out. They want to see how we will react to their behavior. Instead of yelling at them, try going radio silent. Being quiet and still in a moment of chaos can totally change the tone of a situation. Your child will wonder why you aren’t reacting the way they assumed you would and voila—you have his or her attention!
4. Hug them.
Sometimes our kids are acting crazy because they need a hug. Before yelling at your kids to stop misbehaving, ask yourself whether you’ve given your child any undivided attention yet today. If the answer is no, spend some one-on-one time with your kiddo. Stop whatever it is you’re doing and offer a hug. This lets kids know that you hear them, see them, and love them!
5. Pray with them.
Instead of yelling out threats of punishment, one thing that works for me and my daughter is taking her to a quiet place to pray with her. If your child isn’t comfortable praying or he or she is too upset, you can pray for him or her. Use this special time in prayer not only to reflect on your children’s behavior but also to remind them they are loved both by you and by God no matter what.
6. Walk away for a few minutes.
Sometimes, you just have to walk away. If your child is not in a dangerous situation and you can confidently leave him or her alone for a minute or two, do it! Before you react in anger or frustration, step away and allow yourself to calm down before returning to the mayhem. As the adult in the situation, our emotions ultimately control the tone of interaction between us and our kids.
7. Redirect the situation.
If what your child is doing doesn’t necessarily warrant punishment or present itself as a grand teaching moment, it may be best simply to move on. Yelling at our children just because we don’t like what they’re doing isn’t helpful for anyone. Instead of placing emphasis on the poor behavior, ignore it and redirect them to something positive instead.
What advice do you have for how to not yell at your kids?