There are tons of articles floating around the internet telling moms how and why they should stop yelling at their kids. And while I’ll admit I’m one of many bloggers who’ve written on this topic – I want to set the record straight.
Personally, I struggled a lot in my early years as a mom with getting my kids to listen without yelling or constant nagging.
That’s why I simply don’t believe the yelling is the problem. If our kids don’t listen without the shock of a yell from us or needing to be reminded a hundred times, our system isn’t working.
It’s not the yelling that needs fixing, it’s the system!
And a lot of the parenting advice today can leave moms feeling hopeless for why they can’t control their own temper or why they can’t figure out how to get their kid’s attention without yelling.
If that’s you, know you’re NOT alone and you’re NOT a bad mom!
Moving right along…
All Moms Yell at Some Point
Yelling happens to all moms at some point. I don’t know a mom who’s never lost her cool. If that’s you, I’ve seriously got to meet you and sincerely shake your hand.
The cold, hard truth is motherhood can be painfully hard some days. And when we combine the behavioral issues of our kids, our own emotional challenges and seriously crappy days – yelling seems like an inevitable occurrence.
In my early days as a mom, I probably yelled at my kids at least once every day. Sometimes my yelling was just high energy talking like when we’d be running late and I needed to announce it upstairs to the whole house at once. Let’s go!!
But other times I yelled when I was angry like when my kids would start arguing in the living room over what to watch on Netflix and start wrestling over the remote.
In the beginning, it all seemed normal. When I yelled, it always got everyone’s attention and made me feel like I was doing a better job than simply taking a passive approach.
I felt proud of the fact that my kids were always some of the most well-behaved kids in the room. I always got compliments and comments about how respectful my children were, even when they were just toddlers.
What people didn’t see was, I was using yelling as part of my parenting strategy. A strategy that gets results but doesn’t last. One that required ME to make it work.
This overwhelm and exhaustion only perpetuated my yelling and anger. It was like I was angry because I had to yell in order to get anything done.
I’m convinced that if there was a way to measure the stress hormones surging through my body in those days, mine would’ve been off the charts! I was always running on a 10 and found it very hard to be in a state of calm or ever be relaxed or playful with my kids.
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What’s Really Behind All The Yelling
I didn’t really want to yell or scream at my kids. But at the time, I felt like it was my only option and was my go-to method that always gave me that quick win.
I wished there was a way I could talk to my kids like Claire Huxtable who always knew just what to say to get her kids to listen, teach a valuable life lesson, and make a priceless connection with her kids – all after a long day at the office.
What I didn’t know at the time was my communication process with my kids was broken and that parenting like Claire wasn’t a total work of fiction.
The problem with yelling all the time is it hinders our ability to truly connect to the heart of our children. Think about if you yelled at your spouse all the time when they got on your nerves. Instead of communicating in a more respectful way you just yelled and nagged.
Or what if your partner was the yeller and lost it every time they didn’t like the way you did something. Hmm. I bet there wouldn’t be a lot of intimacy happening.
It’s the same with our kids. When we’re angry and yelling, it sends negative and fear-laden messages to our brain about the source of our anger. Who just happens to be our kids.
Yelling also sends fear signals to our kids’ brains and studies have shown that yelling also has damaging effects on their brains and overall development.
When you combine how yelling makes us feel and how it makes our kids feel – it really hinders our ability to have a close, intimate, and even playful relationship with our children.
Again, let me emphasize that yelling here and there isn’t likely to be a problem. What I’m talking about here is a lifestyle of yelling.
What We Need to Ask Ourselves
If you find yourself yelling on a daily basis, I want to encourage you to take a moment to ask yourself why.
Are you dangling at the end of your rope?
Are you stressed and exhausted beyond anything you’ve experienced?
Do you need a better way to get your kids to be self-motivated and listen without you needing to yell?
Is there a source of unresolved anger that’s bubbling under the surface?
Only you know the answer to those questions and only you know if you need and want to change. It’s not my place or anyone else’s to tell you that you have a problem or need to change.
You’re smart and capable enough to decide that for yourself.
I made my own decision to change because I didn’t like how I felt as a mom anymore. I didn’t read a parenting article that told me I should stop yelling. I just felt inside that there was a better way for me and my family.
What You Probably Don’t Know About Yelling
Yelling is two things…
The first is something I didn’t know early on. And that is yelling is a reinforcer of the behavior we don’t want. Yep. Every time we yell and our kids finally jump up and do what we ask, we‘ve reinforced that ineffective pattern of behavior.
We’re essentially training our kids to only listen and obey when we yell. In fact, I used to say that to my kids when I was annoyed… “you guys are training me to yell more because you don’t listen until I yell.”
Sure, I was just venting my frustration, but the truth was they weren’t training me… I was training them!
The second thing is that yelling is more about us and how we’re feeling in the moment than it is about our kids and what they’re doing in the moment.
Imagine your spouse just came home and gave you the devastating news that his position is being phased out of his company and he’ll be getting laid off next month.
Suddenly, your heart starts racing and you’re flooded with high levels of anxiety, fear, frustration, and maybe even anger at the situation. You walk into the kitchen to get a glass of water and you’re jolted when seeing that your 4-year-old decided to take his older sister’s giant pack of colored sharpies and make a mural on the kitchen wall.
How do you think you’d react to the wall and your son in that moment? What would you say? What would you do? Do you think you’d be yelling or screaming?
Now let’s change that scenario up a bit. Let’s say your husband came home and announces that he’s finally been given the dream promotion he’s been working on for two years.
His salary and bonuses will be increasing significantly and you can finally move out of your cramped house and into the neighborhood you’ve both been eyeing for over a year.
You’re elated and filled with a renewed sense of hope. As you bounce into the kitchen for a drink of water you suddenly notice your son’s art project.
How do you think you’d react to the wall and your son now? Is it a much different reaction from the first one? Do you think yelling and screaming would be involved? Or do you think you might even have a sense of humor about it.
I’ve seen many awful messes made by toddlers whose moms decided to make a video and post it on social media. I’ve always thought, “she must have been in a fantastic mood when that happened!”
Seriously, the BEST News Ever!
Now that we know what yelling is… let’s talk about what yelling is NOT. Yelling is not something that has to control you. We get to decide.
If yelling is more about us and NOT our kids… that means we have the power to control the only thing we can control… us.
We can’t make our kids behave differently, make better choices, or do everything just the way we want it. That’s the definition of owning a robot. And if you’ve been a parent beyond 5 minutes, you know there’s no off switch or mute button!
That said, we can take courage to make a change within ourselves. One that allows us to learn easier ways to get our kids to really listen without all the yelling and constant reminding (yes, it’s possible!) And one that helps us manage our emotions in a healthy way.
This is the work I did for myself. I got very honest with myself and asked God to help me through this process. And He did. I surrendered my guilt, frustrations, and my pride before God and decided that it was time I committed to doing the work I needed in order to change.
And make no mistake about it, this was WORK. God gave me the grace, but I had to walk through the hard stuff for several years while making all the mistakes until I made it to a place that feels like peace.
I can’t express the gratitude that I feel for giving myself permission to be brave to go somewhere I was terrified to go.
I still get mad, irritated, and yell from time to time. I’m human and those old instincts still come out if I can stressed and tired.
The difference for me is I know exactly how to calm my nerves in those anger-inducing moments. I’ve done it for so long, I even surprise myself sometimes!
But the most priceless gift is having kids who truly listen to me and the relationship I’ve been able to build with each one of them.
Less Yelling is Just a Happy By-Product
If you’re feeling stuck in a cycle of yelling and can’t figure it out… it’s time to do some work. That’s because you don’t have to yell unless you really want to.
NOT yelling shouldn’t be your focus. There’s always an underlying cause that needs more attention.
You can become a mom that’s calmer and more playful than you’ve been in a long time.
One who’s not burnt out and overwhelmed to your max.
If I can do it… you can do it.
Yelling less at our kids is simply a by-product of fixing the actual problem!
If you’re a mom who’s stuck and feels alone… please hear me now. You are NOT alone! You are NOT a bad mom. And you do NOT need to spend your days in guilt and frustration. There is freedom for you.
You can start your journey to a calmer way of life by grabbing your free copy of The Calm Mom Blueprint! It will teach you how to start training your brain and understanding your anger triggers.
How have you overcome anger? Share your tips in the comments below. Or share your biggest struggles and questions and I’ll be sure to answer them below!