How To Discipline Without Yelling

by Amanda Caswell

Ask any parent who has ever struggled with a toddler throwing a tantrum or a child who refused to do what they were told, and they will probably tell you that out of sheer frustration, they have yelled at their kids. Of course, those same parents have surely discovered that yelling really doesn’t do anything except leave a parent feeling guilty for losing their temper. Unfortunately, unless parents can find an alternative to yelling, the cycle will continue – leaving both parent and child upset. Luckily, there is a solution to disciplining your child that actually works and you don’t have to raise your voice at all. If this sounds too good to be true, we assure you, it isn’t. Read on to discover how parents are disciplining their kids without yelling.

Hear Them Out
As adults we can express our emotions in a variety of ways. Yet, we often forget that our little ones are just discovering their emotions – and voice. In many cases, toddlers can’t articulate what they want. Whether because they don’t have the right words to describe what they want, or they simply can’t pronounce the word in a way that is understandable to you, they feel the only way they can communicate is with a tantrum. Therefore, many times a tantrum is simply a matter of miscommunication.  Similarly, many children misbehave because they don’t have an alternative approach for displaying how they feel. For this reason, it is more important than ever for you to keep a cool head (we know, easier said than done!) during tantrums. How can you expect your child to get their emotions under control when you’re losing it? Get down on your child’s level and with a calm tone, talk to your child. And, listen. You may even try saying something like, “I understand and I hear what you’re saying. But it’s time to come in for dinner and you can play outside again tomorrow.” If that doesn’t work, continue to let them know that you understand. For example, in the case of wanting something at the store, “I know you want that candy bar. It looks good to me too! But we aren’t getting it today. Maybe it can be a special treat another day.” Once your child knows that you are hearing them, they are more likely to listen to you.

Have Clear Rules
Parents often yell because they are frustrated that their kids aren’t doing what they say. However, you need to evaluate if the rules are as clear cut as you think they are. For example, are you suddenly saying that a child only has 5 more minutes to play outside before dinner at 5:30pm when every other day dinner it at 6pm? While children may not know how to tell time yet, they do like to stick to a schedule. So if your child refuses to come inside, don’t see that as a reason to yell. Simply explain to them why things have changed. You’ll be surprised how much children understand even if they can’t verbalize the situation themselves. In most cases, it’s in in your best interest to explain to them before the situation happens. For example, “Your time playing with the next door neighbor will be cut short today because we have to pick up daddy from the train station.” When they don’t want to come in, remind them why their time was cut short and explain that tomorrow dinner will be at the regular time. Having clear rules: Brush your teeth before bed. Put your shoes on before going outside. No candy before dinner, etc. will make a huge difference.

Have Clear Consequences
As kids, how many times did your parents say they were going to turn the car around without ever actually turning the car around? Probably a lot. If your kids know the consequences and you stick to them, you won’t have to argue about them. You won’t even have to raise your voice. With a calm, but stern tone you can say, “Ok, you didn’t clean up your room. That means no bike ride to the park.” And stick to it. Sure, you probably would have enjoyed that bike ride too, and, you may even feel bad that your kid missed out, but rules are rules. Stick to them and you won’t have to yell.

Yelling is Okay Sometimes
Yup, you read that right! If your child is in danger go ahead and yell. Even experts agree that if you never yell but raise your voice when a child is in danger, “Johnny! STOP!!! A CAR IS COMING!!!” you’ll literally get your point across loud and clear.

Remember, you’re human. Some days you’ll be exhausted and frustrated and you’ll yell. Guess what? It’s okay. You aren’t going to ruin your child and your child will still love you. Once you’ve calmed down explain to them that you were simply frustrated by their actions. Follow it up with a big hug. After all, you could probably use one too.  

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Amanda Caswell

About The Author

Amanda Caswell is a fulltime freelance advertising copywriter and writer for a variety of parenting sites. She lives just outside of NYC with her loving husband, two kids, and two cats who still like to think they are her only babies. When she has time to herself she likes to use that 12 seconds of freedom to take a sip of coffee.