My third child has a serious case of FOMO (a term my 65-year-old mother had to explain to me!). She fears missing out on anything her older siblings do and gives a blood-curdling scream each time they run off to do anything that doesn’t include her. Recently, she let that scream reign supreme over and over again while her siblings ran away from her. “Stop!” I called out but was ignored. My “Stop!” escalated in volume until I could have beaten our youngest in a scream duel. When I hit the loudest volume possible, they all halted, wide-eyed, and my middle child even began crying in fear.
We’re all going to blow it at some point in our parenting journey. And that’s OK. What’s important is what comes next: repair. If you want to know how to repair a relationship with your child after yelling, here are 5 things to try.
Do something fun together.
When your child does something unacceptable that causes you to yell, skip the consequences and teaching (for now). Start with the connection. Studies on brain science reveal that the best way to repair a relationship is to connect. Once everyone is calm, play a game together, wrestle, have a tickle fight, throw a football, paint nails, share a snack, or cuddle up together and read a favorite book.
Ask for forgiveness.
There’s a common misconception that asking children for forgiveness shows weakness, but it’s the opposite. When we ask our kids for forgiveness, we’re modeling an essential life skill. They need to learn that everyone makes mistakes and that asking for forgiveness is essential, no matter who you are.
Ask for their side of the story.
Knowing how to repair a relationship with your child after yelling involves helping your child feel understood. Ask her for her side of the story. Let him explain his actions and feelings that preceded your yelling.
Relate to your child.
After you’ve heard and acknowledged your child’s side of the story, explain a time you felt something similar. For example, I know my oldest two children wanted to play alone knowing their creations would be safe from their three-year-old sister’s destructive hands. I told them about a home project I wanted to complete by myself so it came out just the way I envisioned it, without anyone messing it up.
Use stuffed animals to role-play.
Have everyone involved in the altercation pick a stuffed animal to reenact the incident. Next, reassign parts—you play your child and your child plays you. Be super silly and exaggerate emotions with your stuffed animals as you each show the other what you think happened. After that, use your stuffed animals to role-play a better way you could have handled the situation and your emotions.
The last time you yelled at your kids, how did you try to fix it afterward?