If you have a young child, odds are that yelling has become a part of your parenting routine. Yet it may be something that you almost always land up feeling guilty about. Let us face it with a young child in tow you would have to be a saint to never feel angry. However, what you can do is to resist the urge of DOING something each time you are angry; in this case yelling at the child. Here are some handy tips to follow each time you can sense your temper rising:
Recognize your anger cues-– The most important aspect of controlling your emotions is to be mindful of them. Remain tuned in to your feelings and figure out your own anger cues- it could be that tightening in your stomach or that clenching of your jaw or fist. Each time you feel the slightest cue taking over, realize that it is time to stop yourself in the tracks. Other than recognizing your anger cues, you also need to be mindful of your anger triggers. It could be your toddler saying NO to whatever you say or your elder child cluttering the house with her many knickknacks. Awareness of these triggers will be the first step in stopping yourself from blowing up.
Find cooling strategies that work for you- Figure out the cooling strategy that works best for you. It could simply be deep breathing till you allow the emotion to pass over. It could also be a good idea to step out of the room and literally walk away from the situation just then so that you do not give in to the urge of taking off into a tirade. Retreating to a calm place, going out for a walk or run, counting to ten….you could choose an anger management technique that works for you.
Try to look at things from the child’s perspective- Remember that in the long-term interest of the child, getting to the root of the child’s behavior is far more important than punishing the child. So if the child has hit another child during a play date, it will be well worth it to go past your initial desire to scream at the child and try to figure out instead what could have led to the child’s behavior and to work on that instead. For that to happen, however you need to listen to your child closely as also be empathetic enough for the child to open up to you from his defiant state. Remember very often toddlers misbehave because they are unable to give a name to their feeling or know how to handle it. It is important for us therefore teach our children how to effectively express themselves and for us as parents to be able to validate their feelings even though we do not validate their behavior. So if the child has thrown and broken his toy because he is angry about his friend not playing with him, it will help to give a name to his feeling- in this case anger- but to tell the child that while his feeling is legitimate the action of throwing the toy is not.
Follow through your rules– A common reason why parents get angry is that they often threaten the child with consequences of action but rarely follow them through, resulting in the child testing them. So you may tell the child to put away that I pad or you would allot the child a time out. You don’t really land up following through your threat and that is when the child calls through your bluff and does not put the I pad away. Sure enough that the time for your anger to rise! Each time when you feel those anger cues, therefore, remind yourself to check if you have set clear rules and if your answer is in the affirmative, is it time to follow through the consequences.
Convey the message without being mean- A firm stance that reeks “ I-mean-business” is far more likely to work than screaming at the child. Therefore channelize your anger to be able to make the right impact on the child instead of just dumping your emotions on him
Timing is everything– Remember that there is a time for everything. So if the child has not been on his best behavior, the time to teach him the right behavior is neither when you are seething with anger nor when he is. When both of you are calm, you will be able to listen to the child as well as explain what you need to! Pro tip- When you do decide to speak to the child be sure to give him enough leeway to be able to save face. It is only when you are empathetic that the child will drop his defiant stance and open up and be receptive. Overall, also the stronger the bond you have with your child, the easier the disciplining process will be.
Choose Your Battles– It is extremely important for you not to get overwhelmed with every small thing that your child does. Remember therefore to choose your battles carefully. If you have a young kid, a messy house may be something that you will need to accept beyond a point. However you may not want to tolerate disrespectfulness in your child. You will therefore have to let some things roll off your back while you stand firm on the others.
Remember that yelling achieves nothing– Each time that you feel your temper rising remind yourself that yelling pushes your child into a fight or flight mode where his brain isn’t processing anything that you are telling him. If anything, yelling can damage the child’s self esteem. While your goal is to make him understand what is acceptable, surely you do not want to do it at the cost of making him feel embarrassed and hurt.
If despite keeping the above tips in mind, you do land up pandering to your temper and screaming at the child on an occasion, resist the urge to beat yourself up. It helps to remember that one is only human and such instances can occur despite one’s best effort. In fact after an instance like this when you have cooled down enough, have a frank conversation with your child where you admit that you did not mean to raise your voice and that while you will try to do better, they should too. This will go a long way in not just helping the child relook at his own behavior, it will also lay a very important ground rule for him that will stand him in good stead in later life- that of admitting to one’s mistakes. Overall be kind to your own self. Remember there is nothing called a “Perfect Parent”. Acknowledge that you have made a mistake, commit yourself to do better in future and keep moving on this fascinating journey called parenting!