Yelling loses effectiveness over time. A child who gets yelled at on a regular basis will begin to tune you out. Another problem with yelling is that it doesn’t teach kids how to manage their behavior. If a child gets yelled at for hitting their sibling, they won’t learn how to resolve problems peacefully. Here’s how to discipline without yelling.
Be clear about rules and expectations. When it comes to learning how to discipline a child without yelling, one of the best tips is to clearly outline the rules you have for your child so he or she knows exactly what is expected of him or her, and enforce logical consequences when these rules aren’t followed. The easier the rules are, and the more consistently you reinforce them, the easier it is for your kids to meet your expectations. Visual schedules are a great tool to use for younger kids and/or those who require extra prompting throughout the day.
Limit your reactions. When your child misbehaves, make it a point to take a 5-minute breather before you react. Make sure your child is in a safe place, and then remove yourself from the situation and take a few deep breaths. Think through the situation that occurred and your reaction to it. Is your child legitimately misbehaving, or is he or she feeling overwhelmed? Are you distracted? Is his or her behavior simply a plea for your attention? Did your child make you angry, or did something else upset you? Will lashing out at your child solve anything other than your need to release your anger? Taking a few moments to really consider these things will help put things into perspective so you can react appropriately.
Think before you speak. Another great calm parenting tip is to remain silent. The problem with reacting in the moment is that we often say things we cannot take back later. We may agree to things our child is asking for simply to keep the peace, threaten punishments that don’t align with our child’s behavior, or say mean things as a way to get our own anger out. However, if we make a conscious choice not to speak until we can think rationally, everyone will be better off. You won’t negatively reinforce your child’s behavior and will avoid unnecessary feelings of guilt later.
Stay calm. Remember that we are our child’s biggest role models, so exercising proper self-control can go a long way in teaching your child appropriate anger management skills. Don’t be afraid to verbalize what you’re doing (‘I’m feeling angry right now, so I am going to take 20 minutes to calm down before I respond to you’) so he or she has a better understanding of the strategies you are using to stay calm as a parent.
Discuss. After a difficult situation has passed and everyone has returned to a state of calm, make it a point to sit down and talk to your child. Remember that this isn’t a time to discipline or shame your child – it’s a time to work together to figure out what caused the behavior to occur in the first place, discuss how you both handled the situation, and come up with solutions for the future. The more open and honest you are in the discussion, the more comfortable your child will be in admitting the reason behind his or her behavior.
Start again. If your child engaged in a poor behavior, give him or her the chance for a do-over. If you’re both just in a crabby mood after a hectic and overwhelming day, you may even suggest crawling back into your respective beds for a couple of minutes, and then get up and greet each other as if it’s a completely new day full of hope and optimism. Don’t be afraid to make this exercise silly and fun. Laughter is often the best medicine, and as long as you find a way for your child to learn from the situation, finding ways to put it behind you both will go a long way in helping you end the day on a more positive note.