What Can You Do Instead of Yelling?

Walking down the grocery isle, the shrill words, “Get over here,” screams through your head. “Stop touching everything you see,” yells the mother in front of you as she glares at her three-year-old daughter with laser eyes that  cut steal.

The young girl’s shoulders droop, her head lowers.  She hesitantly walks towards her mother.

A bright shiny box catches her attention. She pauses.

“I said get over here, what is wrong with you?” yells the mother.  She reaches out grabbing her daughter by the arm.

“I want a fruit snack, I want a fruit snack,” the little girl cries.

“Be quiet,” yells the mom.

This is a challenging situation. My heart goes out to both the mother and daughter.

I understand.

I too struggle with yelling at my children.

Out of curiosity, I asked mothers what was typically happening when they yelled at their kids. Here are a three responses:

  • I yell at my kids when they aren’t being responsible. After I’ve asked them a few times to clean up something or get their homework done. Or if they are fighting or being mean with each other. They know that is not ok. – Heather
  • I always end up yelling when my kids are supposed to be cleaning up or doing something I have asked them to do and they continue to ignore me and run around chasing each other. Then one of my kids ends up getting hurt and then I yell more. – Yvonne
  • I asked my kids and they said it happens when I don’t know what to do about something. So I guess I’m frustrated with myself and taking it out on them. –Angela

What honest, self-reflective answers by these three mothers.

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Parents resort to yelling when they no longer know how to motivate their kids or are tired or need them to be responsible. But does yelling really help? Does yelling cause other issues?

What happens when you yell at your children?

According to a study done in the fall of 2013 and published online in the journal Child Development yelling — defined as shouting, cursing or insult-hurling — may be “just as detrimental” as physical punishment to the long-term well-being of teenagers. Yelling can trigger feelings of low self-worth in teens and even depression.

Yelling also triggers the fight, flight or freeze part of your child’s brain. Now his higher-level thinking is no longer working, causing him to move slower. This in turn triggers more anger in a parent which escalates the yelling. And so the cycle continues around and around.

What can you do instead of yelling?

As I thought about this question, a mantra came to mind. I was so giddy with excitement to test it out.

I asked mothers to try the mantra and share their results. Here are what two moms reported:

“I feel like it’s helped remind me that they’re kids, and they just want to be happy and have fun. When I was close and calm, they responded more happily and quickly. Honestly, I was quite doubtful it would change things, but I have been VERY pleasantly surprised it has improved things on both ends!” – Leah, mother of 2 young daughters

“This method worked to diffuse the situation more quickly (every time I remembered to use it) than the times that I resorted to the frustrated “Stop doing that!…” that so often comes out of my mouth. It helped me to remain more in control of my emotions and he responded to my calmness.” – Kari, mother of 3 young sons

What is the mantra?

So glad you asked.

It is three simple words: Close, quite, connect. Here is what they mean:

Get close to your children so they can focus on what you are saying. Then speak in a quiet voice, telling them what you expect them to do. Lastly, touch them on the shoulder or give them a quick hug to physically connect, encouraging them to move forward with what you have asked.

Communicating this way keeps your relationship connected and intact. It helps your children focus on what you are saying so they can listen better and willingly cooperate.

When I get close to my sons, speak quieter, and stay connected, I felt calmer and my children respond positively. Isn’t that what we all want?

To all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store or at home, chin up. Take a deep breath and start over. Now try close, quiet, connect and see what happens.

As a special gift, click here to download the saying from above to post in your home.

Question: When do you struggle with yelling? 

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About The Author

Damara Simmons

I am a wife, mother, author, speaker, and family life educator. I love learning and inspiring parents. Join me as we journey together!