Parenting is a tough job, especially when it comes to anger management. Kids often don’t have a very good sense of reasoning, which can lead to a lot of yelling, tantrums, misbehavior, and other issues. They don’t understand how social skills work, and at a very young age, they live in their own little bubble.
It’s even harder to keep your cool when you’re exhausted or not having a great day. Tiredness is part and parcel of parenting young kids, after all. Unfortunately, these children also typically haven’t yet developed a sense of empathy that allows them to understand that – so they really push your limits!
This is why it’s so easy to lose your temper. You may want to shout, or yell, or scream at your children, especially when they aren’t listening to you for the hundredth time. But this is extremely damaging to a young child. They are 100% dependant on you, and they need you to be the mature, bigger person in the situation.
You are the adult, after all! It’s your responsibility to keep your cool when the going gets tough, especially around your vulnerable, susceptible, and easily influenced children.
Here Are 5 Anger Management Techniques To Stop Yelling At Kids
1. Learn To Communicate Effectively
Toddlers and young children are nothing like adults. They rarely ever listen to yelling. It catches their attention for a moment, but they’ll be lost in a different world again just moments later! This renders any attempt to get their attention by shouting at them either completely ineffectual or just plain harmful.
It’s definitely frustrating to feel like you aren’t being heard – especially if you’ve been talking about some topic again and again. If you keep having to say things again and again to no effect, you likely haven’t been speaking to your child in a way that they truly understand. Here are some tips, which will also aid you in anger management: (1)
a) Use firm language, calmly
You can sound strict and as though you won’t take no for an answer while also sounding (mostly) relaxed.
b) Make eye contact
Your child is more likely to take you seriously if you maintain eye contact with them, and you will be able to check to make sure they’ve comprehended what you’re saying. You can even kneel or lean down so you’re on their eye level.
c) Keep it concise
If you drone on and on about one point for a long time, your child is going to slowly but surely tune it out. Get to the point, make sure they understand, and leave it at that.
d) Be consistent
Remain consistent about the good behavior you expect. Don’t change your expectations every other day, as this will just confuse your child and prevent them from following instructions.
e) Don’t give in
If you told your child to complete a task, and they still haven’t been doing it, don’t “give up” on them by rolling your eyes and completing the task yourself. If you do, you’ll teach your kid that if they can ignore you long enough, they’ll get to escape tasks. No matter how long it takes, stand your ground!
Sometimes, your child is protesting for a reason. Listen to their explanations and complaints. Make sure they know that you “cannot hear” them unless they speak politely and properly. Once you’ve heard their side, make a more informed decision about your next step.
2. Prepare Beforehand
A Yale professor of child psychiatry and psychology, Dr. Alan Kazdin, has a unique but important series of steps for more efficient, calmer, and more positive parenting. He refers to this as the ABCs program. Here’s how it goes: (2)
This portion of the program involves preparing your child for what they are expected to do well before they may actually need to do it. This will allow them to prepare for it and keep it in mind.
As an example, if you want your child to put their dishes away after eating, start by telling them anytime before a snack that they must do this. It can be as simple as, “Please put your dishes in the sink once you’re done eating your snack!”
This step is all about reinforcing and molding the behavior you want. It is your responsibility to ensure this happens; after all, many children learn by example! So if you’re trying to teach your kids to put their dishes in the sink after eating, make sure that you’re doing the same with your own dishes.
Consequence is the stage where you show positive reinforcement to your child for engaging in the correct behaviors. Once your child puts their dishes away, give them very big, obvious praise and a hug or other type of physically affectionate sign of approval.
You need to make sure your praise is very loud and large in order for it to be noticed, and for your child to associate it with a good thing they’ve done. Don’t be afraid to act like you’re a theater actor!
Another good way to prepare beforehand is by being aware of your anger levels. If you feel yourself start to get annoyed, prepare yourself and your children. Tell them what the problem is, such as:
- You’ve had a bad day at work
- You really need to focus
- You’re feeling very tired
- You are concerned for their safety
- You are becoming irritated because of their fighting or arguing
Phrase it in a positive way and communicate with them. Ask them to kindly tone it down as a proactive approach to anger management. If you need to, redirect their attention and re-state your position and requests more firmly until they listen to you.
3. Learn To Understand Your Own Anger Management Process Accurately
Anger may seem complex, but it’s a surprisingly simple emotion. If you learn to understand and interpret your anger, you will be able to respond to it in a more positive way that is more proactive and less reactive. Here are some tips to help you do so: (3)
a) Identify The Root
Anger is a secondary emotion. This means that it does not exist on its own; it arrives as a bolster for other negative emotions. So the next time you experience anger, take a deep breath and think about it.
Try and take note of any feelings you are experiencing that are hidden behind anger. You may be feeling:
- Sad or upset
b) Figure Out What Triggers You to Start Yelling
Different parents have different anger triggers. If you know what yours are, you can anticipate and prepare for them beforehand, preventing you from blowing up when you encounter them.
Some examples of common triggers a parent experiences are:
- Certain phrases said by children, such as …
- “I don’t wanna!”
- “You can’t make me do it!”
- “Why can’t I?”
- “Are we there yet?”
- A certain negative behavior (example: leaving toys uncleared, fighting with siblings, talking back, etc.)
- External factors coupled with mild misbehavior (example: needing to cook dinner but your children are whining, having to focus on work but your kids won’t stop playing too loudly, etc.)
c) Take Note Of Physical Responses
Many people experience physical changes when they become angry. If you take note of these responses in your body, you’ll be better able to detect when you need to use some positive anger management. Your body might be telling you that anger is on the rise, even if your brain hasn’t quite caught up. Some common signs of anger include:
- Reddening face
- Quickened pulse or heart rate
- Clenched fists
- Tightened muscles
- Shallow breathing
d) Understand Its Purpose
Anger does not arise from nothing, or for no reason. You are angry because certain things aren’t going smoothly, or as needed. By understanding why you get angry, you can understand the steps you need to prevent things from going in that direction.
4. Take A Break
Too angry? Walk away and take a break. When you feel your anger mounting to uncontrollable levels, step out of the room. Tell your child that you are too angry to continue the discussion and that you are going to go and take a timeout.
When away, breathe deeply. Sit down, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Go to the bathroom or to a nearby sink and give your face a wash. Freshen up a little. If it helps, you can even say a mantra or positive affirmation to yourself about keeping positive thinking in these times. (4)
You can use mantras like:
- I will only show love.
- My child needs understanding and patience.
- This situation is not a disaster.
- My child only acts out because he has trouble with (insert issue here).
- I will be patient today.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Nobody is perfect, and if you’ve been yelling at your kids as a bit of a habit when things go wrong, it’s hard to unlearn the behavior. The trick lies in continual practice and lots of positive thinking.
Anger management is crucial to good parenting. You can learn to be calmer, or you can find healthy outlets for that anger. Some practices for calmer thoughts include:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Keeping a journal to record gratefulness and express your thoughts
- Practicing yoga
Some healthy (or usable) outlets for anger include:
- Practicing sports
- Writing in a journal about your anger
- Making art that expresses your anger
- Screaming into or punching a pillow
If you choose to use outlets for anger, make sure you are doing so in private or away from children if it is not a commonly accepted activity!
Final Thoughts On Some Anger Management Techniques To Stop Yelling At Kids
If you’ve shouted at your child in the past, it’s time to stop and learn alternative methods of getting through to them. A lot of emotional and mental damage can come from yelling at your kid, especially if this includes unfair name calling, disrespect, and verbal abuse. In fact, it’s just as bad as physical hitting and punishment. (5)
They can learn improper anger management techniques from this treatment. They can begin to exhibit similar behaviors to yours. Or, in some cases, they may withdraw altogether. Even when they seem fine, their developing brains are still impacted in some way or other, and it will have a harmful effect on them later in life.
Studies indicate that positive reinforcement is a much better system for children than negative reinforcement. This is why learning to manage your anger can be more beneficial for both you and your kids. It’ll help them behave better, and it’ll give you more breathing space!
So, while it can be hard to keep calm when your kid is being naughty, take a deep breath and get your positive thinking going! Use these 5 anger management techniques to stop yelling at kids and build a healthier, happier, and more effective parental bond with your little one.