It’s 8.00am. You have exactly 4 minutes and 55 seconds to get your family out the door.
But your son is still in his pyjamas, ignoring your request for him to put on his school clothes. Your daughter is in her room, unable to even locate her school uniform because she didn’t clean up her room, like you told her to do yesterday… 17 different times.
And you? Well, you’re about ready to scream the house down in an attempt to get your kids to do what they are asked the first time around.
Yes. Yelling is a part of life when you are a parent. But it doesn’t have to be. Sure, we are all going to let out the occasional mama bear growl but yelling doesn’t need to go hand in hand with discipline.
Believe it or not, there are other ways to gain control of the kids without needing to shout, scream, swear or search Google for Nanny McPhee clones in your area.
More Control; Less Shouting
Your pathway to peace starts with you. That’s right – before you can work on your kids, consider what is setting you off. What are your yelling triggers?
When are you extra yelly? In the mornings before the mad dash to school? After school as you try and settle the kids into their homework routine? During the dinner prep or perhaps right before bed?
If you are yelling at your kids to get dressed in the morning, prevent the fight by putting them to bed with their clothes on. Or, at the very least, their socks. This will stop the “my sock has a bump in it” problem from escalating into a yelling match in the morning.
Or, if the kids are coming home from school and fighting while you try to sort out dinner, start a routine where they both spend 15 minutes of alone time in their rooms. This will stop their fighting and prevent you from having to yell at them while trying to organise a meal.
When your blood is boiling and you’re about to snap, run! Okay, so you can’t run away from the kids completely, but run to the closet, the bathroom or the garage and take a five minute time out before returning to the battleground.
Discipline Without Raising your Voice – Get your children to listen the first time around without the need to yell or nag.
Set the rules
First things first, establish a clear set of expectations with your kids so they know exactly what they are meant to do. Go through the morning routine, the after school routine, the dinner routine, the bedtime routine and identify what tasks or chores they need to do.
Use visual reminders
Next, get creative with visual reminders – chore charts, picture routines, daily schedules outlining what they need to do at each time.
On the morning chart, include tasks like putting their pyjamas in the laundry, making their bed, brushing their teeth, packing their lunch
into their bag, putting on their uniform, brushing their hair and cleaning their breakfast bowl.
In the afternoon a visual chart may include putting their school bag away, placing their uniform in the wash (not on the floor), doing their homework, quiet time in their room, playing outside, etc.
Sure, these may seem like no-brainers to us, but our kids need a little more guidance and many children respond well to visual cues and step by step guidelines that they can clearly see and follow.
But what happens if they still don’t listen, even with a daily schedule written on the fridge? Rather than yell or nag, take action.
Set up negative consequences
Explain to your kids ahead of time what will happen if they break the rules. The punishment is entirely up to you but may include a time out, loss of privileges or taking away toys.
If they don’t follow the rules, even after a warning or two, there’s no need to yell or scream. Simply remind them about the consequences and follow through.
Stick to the plan
No parent wants to be the bad guy, but it sometimes needs to be done. The only way to prove that you mean business is to actually follow through with the plan.
Send them to time-out, take away the iPad and keep your cool, even if they starts to lose theirs.
Additional No-Yell Methods
Having a discipline plan in place is a great way to reduce the need to yell at your kids. But here are a few other methods to calmly stay in control.
Explain the WHY
One of the most frustrating things about having kids is their selective hearing. Often you will ask them to do something and they will ignore it, or stall.
But try this: When asking your kids (or partner) to do something, explain WHY they need to do it.
“Can you put your clothes away, because they do not belong on the kitchen table?” “Can you put your shoes on because we have to leave now?” “Can you turn the iPad off now because it’s time for dinner?”
Giving them a valid reason increases the chance of them doing what they are told on the first go, without needing to raise your voice.
Give them two options
Kids like to be in control, which is why giving them a choice can work well. Rather than telling them to do something, offer them two choices (both leading to the same result).
For example, “Either you brush your teeth now or after you read” is often more effective than simply telling them to go brush their teeth.
Screaming can get the kids’ attention (and probably your neighbour’s too). But lowering your voice to an almost whisper is just as effective. Combine with a cold hard stare and you may just have the winning recipe for getting the kids’ attention and proving that you mean business.
Get down on their level
Bend down so that you are talking directly to your child. This allows you to make eye contact and can be a lot less intimidating to your child. It shows them that you are talking to them, not yelling at them from above.
Pick your battles
We are all perfect parents before we have kids. But the truth is, no child is perfect all the time. And trying to make your kids behave perfectly every second of every day is exhausting.
So don’t. Let go of the control reins and let them be less-than-perfect, even if this means they sometimes stray from the rules.
If they occasionally leave a mess, track mud into the house on their way in from playing or forget to pick their towel off the bathroom floor, don’t lose your cool. If it becomes routine, then yes, it’s time to intervene.
But some battles are not worth starting or yelling about. So save your voice (and your sanity) and let the occasional muddy footprint or dirty towel slide.