However, I realized a short while ago that I didn’t want my kids to grow up in a house where someone’s always yelling and anger seeps through most conversations. I wanted my kids to be able to see our house as a sanctuary from the mean kids at school, the teachers with high expectations, and the normal bumps and thumps of growing up and being a kid. So I had to make a few changes to at least minimize how often I had to raise my voice with my kids.
First, I had to pinpoint when I tended to yell most. Was it in the morning? At night? On the weekends? Then I had to figure out why I was yelling and how to come up with a better solution. Here’s what I figured out:
If they are not moving fast enough to complete a task:
Every morning, I end up fussing at my son because he is this concentrated ball of energy in the mornings (he’s just a very happy child). But all that energy means it takes him twice as long as everyone else to get dressed. I lay out his clothes and direct him to his pile and I expect that when I get back to his room 10 minutes later, that he will be dressed and ready to go downstairs for breakfast. But that never happens. Instead, he’s got on his pants and one sock and is talking to his sister about some silly joke he just made up.
Solve It: I had to get creative and make it a race. My son is competitive. He likes winning. If I tell him, “I’m going to be the first one dressed!” he will move twice as fast to beat me. Try pointing out an incentive to get your kids to move a little faster if you absolutely need to stay on schedule—sometimes something as simple as “Your cereal will get soggy if you don’t hurry up and put your socks on” works wonders.
If they are not responding when you are calling for them:
Sometimes my kids go deaf when they’re watching TV and I’m calling for them. I could do my usual “I know y’all hear me” routine, but like I just said, they’re not listening. So instead I go for the opposite approach.
Solve It: I walk to where they are and lean in close. “Did you hear me calling for you?” Usually they’ll say “No” and so I repeat that they are to respond to me within 10 seconds of me calling for them. Ignoring me so they can continue watching TV results in loss of privileges, namely no TV.
If you are asking them to do the same thing over and over:
You’ve been there, right? You’re running late and you’ve got certain things to accomplish before you can leave the house but suddenly you’ve had to ask your kids two or three times to put their dishes away and get their coats on. No bueno.
Solve It: First, make sure you are clear both in your directions and your desired timetable. Instead of saying, “Put your shoes on,” say something like, “You have three minutes to get your shoes on.” If your kids are too young to have a good concept of time, use something they can relate to, like the length of their favorite show, or set the microwave for 5 minutes so they know it’s time to go when it beeps.
If they’re fighting with their siblings and you’re trying to restore order:
My kids are at that age when they’re fighting for territory. They want their own toys, their own books, their own special treats. So there’s a lot of bickering. I used to yell to catch their attention, but it only startled them and didn’t solve the actual problem.
Solve It: If they’re fighting over something or otherwise stuck in an endless loop of “That’s mine!”, turn that competition into collaboration. Come up with a list of things for them to do (maybe it’s chores, like washing the windows, or something fun like solving a puzzle) and set a timer. Make them work together to complete the task in the allotted amount of time and come up with some sort of prize if they cooperate.
What do you do instead of yelling at your kids?
This article originally appeared on MommyNoire.com