Many parents admit that they yell at their kids. Parents say they do this because they want their kids to listen, but they’re used to getting little to no cooperation. When threats, promises, and pleas don’t work, yelling can feel like the only option.
The reality? Yelling at kids doesn’t help them focus on what you’re saying or what you want them to do. The truth is that it has quite an opposite effect.
Kids seem to be able to naturally tune out yelling. They might grumble, yell back at you, or even laugh in response (yeah, I hate that too), but they aren’t soaking in your message. Even worse, frequent yelling often leads to a cycle of miscommunication and overall negative vibes. This unpleasant pattern sometimes feels impossible to break.
With all that in mind, here are 6 tried and true strategies you should use if you want to yell less and be listened to more:
Listen a bit more. As with pretty much every other behavior, your child will learn how to listen by following the example you set. If you consistently listen to your child when he or she speaks, they’ll be much more inclined to listen to you when you talk to them.
Speak in a whisper. Typically speaking, when our frustration level rises, so does our voice. When you lower your voice to a whisper, it’s exactly the opposite of what your kid expects to hear. This can lead to a pleasant sense of surprise. Not only that, but when you whisper, your kid has no choice but to lean in. They are literally closer to you. This will likely make them feel more obligated to listen.
Stop talking so much. We parents tend to talk too much. Kids can receive as many as 200 instructions each day. If that sounds like a lot, well, it is. And since kids typically retain a mere 25 percent of those directives, perhaps we need to be a bit more thoughtful regarding what we tell them to do.
Find out exactly why they’re not doing what you say. Some questions to consider include: Are you asking them to do something that’s too difficult? Are they struggling to do something because they’re tired? Think on these things before jumping to the conclusion that your kid is being purposely defiant or disrespectful. The answer might be more innocent than you think.
Change the mood by adding some fun to things. Sometimes it can feel as though you and your kid are engaged in a constant battle of wills. That’s why you should change the entire dynamic by lightening things up a bit. For example, if you’re frustrated by your kid taking his time getting ready for school, whip out a timer to see who can win a race to the door. The key is to use your imagination (and your wit) to encourage his cooperation. I’ve found that it works better than merely making demands.
Try to see things eye to eye (literally). Go ahead and get down on your child’s level and ask her to look directly at you while you both are speaking. This is a great way to make sure you have your child’s full attention and to teach them the type of good manners you want them to have.