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Getting kids to obey without yelling can feel impossible. I mean, how can you possibly get them to listen when they can’t even hear you over the roar of their own disagreements? Or have earbuds permanently affixed to their ear drums?
Is there a way to make kids listen without screaming?
At the end of a long and exhausting day, I was wide awake and staring at the ceiling. I could not remember one positive thing I had said to my children.
As I recalled all the moments, there was one distinct thread throughout each one. A drill sergeant was constantly screaming at my kids… and the drill sergeant was ME.
I tried to see myself from their perspective. It wasn’t pretty.
Imagine me… five feet and eight inches tall… towering over your four-foot frame. Veins bulging in my neck and forehead. Knuckles white from the clinching in my fists. A crazy gleam in my eyes. Hair frizzed out from the static electricity coursing through the air. My voice at an unnatural octave and resonating in volume enough to set off the chime of the doorbell.
I was a yelling mom.
RELATED: Tips for Consistency in Parenting
Were the kids out of control? Or was I?
There had to be a way to stop this stream of verbal vomit I was hurling at my children. There had to be a way to get them to listen without screaming.
Getting kids to obey without yelling
I have never met a parent that actually enjoys yelling. Could you be the first? Probably not if you are reading this article.
Chances are that you are a yelling mom and you don’t want to be.
I have totally been there. While I would love to tell you that I am complete recovered and scream-free… I will tell you the truth. I am a work in progress.
So let’s consider how we can transform from wailing banshees to calm and practical parents.
Know your triggers
Your child knows your buttons. Do you?
Many parents feel like their child pushes them over the edge, leaving no choice but to break out the voice siren. Well, you do have a choice. It’s just hard to make the right one when you are in the moment.
So, instead of reacting to a situation (and being a yelling mom), analyze your own behaviors and find those triggers that send you spiraling out of control. Once you learn to recognize those moments, you can work to sidestep the situation and defuse the time bomb inside before you begin yelling.
If you need help overcoming your emotions, be sure to grab my “Flip Your Mood” printable below.
And can we just stop for a minute and acknowledge that a lot of the time our fuse is short because we don’t take enough time to nurture ourselves as mothers? There are great hobbies for moms and maybe it’s time you discovered something to give you a break from the monotony.
But even if that isn’t the issue, you need to understand what makes your temper blow.
Take a deep breath
One way to get the kids to listen without screaming is to stay calm.
Relax your clinched fists and jaw. Fight the inclination to get in that familiar stance where your body habitually returns right before you begin to yell.
Sometimes kids feed off the fact that their parents are upset. It’s like a snowball that starts small but builds until it picks up everything in its path. My husband and I encourage our children to “stop the snowball,” but I realize that they cannot stop a snowball if I am adding to the momentum.
Keep your cool, stay calm, relax, and deliver the message to your kids without screaming. Yelling gets kids worked up, and they will be focused on their own frustration, not what you are trying to communicate.
Break the noise barrier
Let’s be honest… no matter how hard we attempt to be calm, it is impossible to avoid yelling when the children are in an uproar and no one can hear you. Am I right? It’s like whispering into a hurricane.
But yelling only adds to the frenzy.
So, instead of joining the noise, find a way to break the noise barrier without yelling at your kids and expecting obedience.
Get your kids to listen without screaming by using a tool. Think about these options:
- Think like a referee. Get a whistle that comes out when you need attention. If the volume is beyond where you can be heard without raising your voice, blow the whistle.
- Clap a cadence and teach your children to clap back. This is a tool in every teacher’s box of tricks. I have seen many teachers begin a simple clap and then pause… waiting for the children to respond with the clapping echo. The teacher continues to clap and pause, expecting a clapping response, until she has the attention of her students.
- Test the fire alarm. Nothing makes my children put their hands over their ears faster than when I burn bacon and the fire alarm begins its shrill bleating. Use that noise to your advantage.
- Need a visual distraction to get the attention of your kids with the earbuds? Flash the lights. Or disconnect the wifi. Either will work.
Whichever tool you use to break the noise level, avoid using your voice because once you begin to yell it is very hard to stop.
Have established punishments in place
Getting kids to obey without yelling also involves consequences.
When your children know the recourse for their actions, they will be more apt to listen. For example, set a rule that if you ask once and they don’t listen, the first consequence will be instilled. And stick with your own rule. Be consistent.
Don’t put out more energy than it’s worth. Choose your battles wisely but decide now which consequences you will instill in your household. Create a discipline chart and make it visible. Then, stick with it.
Feed their love language
Often, disobedience is a cry for attention because even negative attention (like yelling) means you are focused on your child. And that’s what he or she wants. You.
I know you love your child and you try your very best to show it. That’s why you don’t want to be a yelling mom. But are there more effective ways to communicate your love to your child so that in between the need for discipline he or she is feeling your attention?
Does your child respond to words of affirmation? Do they crave being close to you? Is your child always asking for you to play?
Discover your child’s love language
Assist your child in successful learning
Use the love languages to correct and discipline more effectively
Build a foundation of unconditional love for your child
Plus: Find dozens of tips for practical ways to speak your child’s love language.
Each child has a particular love language. When you can love your child in the most effective way possible, you can defuse there disobedience (and thereby your yelling) by meeting those emotional needs.
I highly recommend every parent reads The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman. He will help you recognize your child’s inclinations and provide practical ways to show love in a way your child understands.
Get your children to listen by giving them your positive attention when they are doing something good. Show love the way they feel loved.
Teach the right thing to do
If your child were asked, “What is the one thing you know your parent will do when you disobey,” what would he say? If the most predictable thing about your reaction to disobedience is yelling, you need a new goal.
I want my child to answer with “She will help me know what I did wrong, why it was wrong, and how I can do better.”
The only way I can get this response is by creating a conversation after my child has disobeyed that includes:
- Making sure she knows what she did;
- Explaining why it was wrong; and,
- Following through with the established consequences.
I cannot have this conversation if I am yelling like a lunatic.
Don’t be a yelling mom
A lot of getting kids to obey without yelling comes down to the decision you make as a parent.
Will you be a yelling mom? Or won’t you?
If you are ready to silence the drill sergeant, then decide today that yelling is NOT AN OPTION.
Say that to yourself every time you feel the banshee rise inside, “Yelling is not an option.”
Yelling is exhausting for the you as a mom and for your child. And it doesn’t work. Any results are temporary. So try something different.
Getting your kids to obey without yelling doesn’t happen overnight. But, as your kids hear you yell less, they will listen more.
You’ve got this mom! I believe in you!