Ever wonder how to get kids to listen without yelling? I know, it’s frustrating! But this simple strategy really helps to get your kids to listen without screaming your head off. You have to work it… but it really works!
I’m not talking about when you shout upstairs for your kiddos to get in the car because you’re running late for school for the third time this week.
Or when your 12-year-old’s friend who lives down the block stops by and you kindly let her (and the whole house) know to come downstairs. I’m kind of loud in general… maybe you are too.
I’m talking about when your toddler decides to morph into Captain America for the hundredth time this week and starts throwing his shield across the living room and you kindly ask him to stop. At which he shows no visible signs of hearing and therefore you remind him again a little louder this time.
Bam! The shield slams into your wall once again and there goes your sanity and here comes the yelling.
This was me… every single day for years.
I knew something had to change because I wasn’t enjoying being a mom which I knew wasn’t right because I loved being a mom. But I just couldn’t figure out how to break the vicious cycle of yelling and regret.
Then through prayerful observation and help from my husband who could see what was going on all along, I saw that I was the cause of this cycle – not my kids. And that’s what I want to share with you in this post.
Do I still have a set-back every now and then and yell at my kids in anger? Sure, but those are infrequent and much less than they used to be. If you find yourself losing your temper frequently with your kids, I strongly encourage you to read and try these tips.
They really do work!
Why Yelling Doesn’t Get Your Kids to Listen
The first step to getting your kids to listen when you’re disciplining is to not be angry. Feels impossible, right?
I mean, sure they “hear” you, but our goal is for them to listen which isn’t the same thing.
Even if you need to step away, it’s important to release or control your personal frustration before diving right in. That’s because disciplining when you’re angry undermines your authority.
I’ve come to learn something along the way. Yelling really never worked, and kids lose respect for yelling parents.
I thought it was working because when I talked normally, no one ever moved. Until I broke out in a nice yell. That’s only partially true because they simply learned to respond to the yelling.
Not only does disciplining when you’re angry undermine your authority, but you’re also teaching your child how to have loose and untamed emotions by watching you. Ouch!
Yelling like a lunatic and saying hurtful things to your children can have lasting consequences. And whether they tell you or not… those words run deep.
This is so, so important for us as parents to let sink in. When we get overwhelmed at the situation and break out into a yelling fit we are acting no different than our toddler who drops to the floor in a temper tantrum.
And when we feel tempted to have a mommy tantrum… we need to give ourselves a mommy timeout.
This is really important to allow us to cool down so we don’t let our emotions take over and do or say something we’ll most certainly regret. And need to apologize for!
Lax Parenting is your Enemy
Lax parenting – without firm and consistent boundaries – opens the door to being challenged by your child at some point… really every point.
And we have the tendency be most lax when all is well and we’re having a stress-free day. Little things get overlooked over and over again. We’re afraid to make any adjustments so we don’t rock this peaceful boat we’re in.
For example, you’re in the grocery store with your toddler and things are going great. #MomWin
He asks if he can walk, and since you only had to run in for a couple things (another #MomWin) you let him walk.
In a nano-second, he starts to touch things. He’s just touching and not knocking things over… so what’s the big deal you tell yourself. Deep down, you’re terrified to do anything to end this no-chaos bliss thing happening. So you don’t tell him to stop.
But wait!! Here’s the kicker, he’s just mentally and physically recorded that it’s ok to touch stuff at the store.
Fast forward to your next trip to the store when you need to grab a cart full of stuff (no #MomWin). To top it off, your son didn’t get a full nap today and you’re so exhausted you think you might need glasses.
This time your son reaches out to grab and pull down every item he can get his hands on. You’re embarrassed, frustrated, and headed for a melt-down.
The key to setting boundaries is making them consistent. In the Good Times AND in the Bad! They need to know what to expect EVERY single time.
The Importance of Staying Consistent
Children desperately need consistency to learn. Not only do they need to know what to except, but that expectation you need shouldn’t change every day of the week. And we can’t be wishy-washy.
I use to be the Queen of the Threat. I’d rattle off statements like, “Do you want to go into Timeout?” “You’re about to lose all your screentime today!”
When in reality, I didn’t plan on following through. I was banking on the “threat” doing its job. But the truth is, our kids are just too smart for that. They can see right through our weakness. I think they can smell it too!
Inconsistent or nonexistent consequences do nothing short of undermining our integrity and authority.
In short, they learn not to trust what we say.
Here’s a quick tip – make sure to think about the punishment when you’re not emotional. If you rattle off that your teenager is grounded for 6 months… if it doesn’t fit the crime, you’re going to be in a dilemma.
Do I let her off the punishment early or make her stick it out just to prove a point?
Either way isn’t the best scenario.
Firm doesn’t mean harsh.
Not only should our discipline be consistent but it also needs to be firm. They need to know you mean business.
But by the same token, they shouldn’t be afraid of you. I know, this kind of goes against many old-school parenting methods. But instilling fear is never helpful. There’s a clear difference between firm and harsh.
You may feel this is beneficial when your children are small, but as they get older – they need to know you’re there for them.
Think of all the crazy things young people have to deal with in our current times. Having a parent who blows their top over every little thing will keep your child from confiding in you – when they need you and your wisdom the most.
Harsh discipline is done when we’re angry and led by our disappointment, embarrassment, guilt, or some other emotion. And can happen in every form of discipline from timeouts, lectures, mean words, shaming, and spanking.
The whole point of discipline is to teach our children what’s right and wrong. And we do this out of our love.
Discipline Should Come From Love
We see so much destruction in the news today, and I wonder how many of those individuals had no boundaries in their formative years.
Discipline, done the right way, is an act of love. It’s one way we keep our kids safe.
The Bible provides so much practical wisdom on correction and discipline. And the focal point always comes back to love. Proverbs 3:11-12
It’s our job, really our privilege, to shape our children’s lives in a positive way. Giving them the best possible chance at life by teaching them the proper way to conduct themselves.
I want to emphasize here that the actual form of discipline and punishment you choose is not as important as being consistent and doing what you say.
Not only that, but each child is different and will respond differently to various forms of discipline such as timeouts, removal of privileges, and so on. There is no cookie-cutter formula that’ll work for every kid.
This is an on-going process and one where we need to fully depend on the Grace of God to do well. And rest in that same Grace when we miss it because we all do!
Do you have some tried and trusted methods for getting your kids to listen? Share them in the comments below! We’d love to hear them!