Shouting too much at the children?
I sometimes catch a look at myself in the mirror when I’ve got my angry face on. My, it isn’t a pretty sight! Sometimes just that is enough to make me press pause, breathe, walk away, find something to distract myself, stroke the cat... Anything is better than losing it with the kids. I once asked my four year old daughter ‘when I shout at you what do you think?’ She replied ‘I think you don’t love me’. Wow! That pulled me up short. I had no idea she would say that. Then I asked my other daughter and she said ‘I just think you are having a bad day’. (Better answer!) The truth is that nothing positive comes from us shouting at our kids because they are sponges for us so they will either feel fear or model us and shout back - or both. So what can we do to stop us shouting. Here are ten tips:
- Watch your breathing and as it gets high in your chest and shallow, know that that is a sign that your anxiety levels are rising. When that happens, lengthen the breath and take it deeper. Do this as many times as you can.
- Articulate what is going on for you 'I can feel myself getting angry and I really don't want to. It doesn't work for anyone when I shout'. Note it isn't helpful to lay the blame at your children's feet - ie it isn't helpful to say 'you are making me angry'. The above is much more powerful as it demonstrates ownership.
- It can really help to walk away for a few moments to compose yourself.
- Have a set of rules that are written up (or with drawings) for things like mornings, mealtimes, bedtimes and bathtimes and refer to the rules frequently. Especially important to praise children when they are following them.
- Get eye contact with your child when you ask them to do something.
- Ask your child to repeat your request.
- Understand that children find transitions difficult - moving from one task to another, so allow extra time for this, which will help them resist you less.
- Think to yourself 'what is behind my anger?' Are you struggling with life at the moment? Are you overstretched? Are you worrying about work/your relationship/an unpaid bill? Was someone rude to you today? When we realise that we are off-loading our own stresses on our children it helps us to stop before we shout.
- Do you need to do something to help your stress levels like listen to a meditation recording from you tube, have a long bath, go for a run?
- Imagine watching a video of yourself shouting - it isn't pleasant - and this can help us press pause and keep our cool.
Remember, as parents we HAVE to look after ourselves in order to be a good parent.