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How Not to Shout at Your Child
How Not to Shout at Your Child
In an ideal world, we would be in perfect harmony with our children at all times. We would always be on good terms and neither parent nor child would ever make the other mad. In reality though, no one can irk a parent like a child can, and vice versa. In reality, we lose our patience with our kids and if we are not careful, we can inflict on them permanent wounds. Remember you are your little person’s sole source of food, shelter, comfort and even protection from the world. She totally depends on you for everything, so when you lose your cool with her and react by shouting at her, she gets confused. Her world comes crashing down.
You might be familiar with the aftermath of those times when you lose your control with your child. The heart-wrenching tears they shed, the guilt you feel afterwards and the endless questions you ask yourself about whether there was a different way you could have reacted and stayed in control of the situation. I know I have been there. I took my daughter out on a fine Sunday afternoon when she was two and a half. We had fun the whole day, just mommy and daughter. She played with kids she had just met while I sat sipping a soda, congratulating myself for being such a fine mother. I mean, my daughter was well-adjusted; she easily made friends and had all the social skills necessary to be welcome in new games. She was even behaving better than kids older than her, like that four year old who was nagging his mother and kept crying and ruining everyone’s mood. But evening was approaching and it was now time to go home. Everyone and their kids went nicely to their cars and rode away, but not Joan. She wanted to stay and prolong the day and the fun. Forget that it was getting dark and chilly. Forget that the parking lot was now almost empty. I shouted at her to calm down and get in the car. I still remember how scared she looked. She immediately obeyed, crying. I had achieved what I wanted, but was there a better way? What if I had tried to talk to her about why we really needed to go home instead of shouting at her? Here are some things I have mastered over the years and now practise with both of my children. I am not a perfect parent but I am getting there.
Take a Break
When kids are feeling agitated, we give them time outs. This tactic can also work for you. Taking a break from the situation gives you a chance to look at things from a different point of view. If your child is doing something you find really annoying, move away from her. You can go to a different room. If you have some chores to do in a different part of the house, take this moment to finish those chores. The time you spend away from the child will help you calm down and take your mind off the annoying behavior. When you are calm, you can then handle the situation in a sober mindset.
Communicate Your Feelings to Your Child
My daughter is one of those understanding children. She understands when I tell her I need space and even later comes back to ask me if I still need my space or can she join me now? Sometimes, you are just angry or irritated, and even the slightest activity can make you mad. Maybe you have some deadlines you need to meet at work, or you have money problems. It could even be that you are just tired or having a bad day in general. On those days if your child asks you questions that you usually answer, you feel like she is nagging you. If your children are playing games just as they do on a normal day, you find their noise too loud. On those days, you can explain to them you just need your peace and quiet. You can ask them to keep the noise down for the time being, until you are feeling better.
Make a decision not to shout at your child no matter what. You must make this decision when you are not angry because when you are angry, you are more likely to act in anger. Clayton Christensen as quoted in this article says that it’s easier to commit to something 100 percent than 98 percent. You can decide to stop shouting at your child and make that a principle of your parenting. When you make this decision, do not move away from it at any time, because if you do then you are not committing yourself 100 percent. It is like deciding to stay healthy but committing to it 98 percent of the time. You will soon find yourself back to your old ways and you will stay unhealthy.
Set Rules and Consequences
Every parent has that one issue they fight about with their child. For some, it is failure of the child to pick up his toys. For others it is World War III during bath time. For me and my daughter, it is about finishing her food. She is five and very active in all other areas of her life. She plays well with other kids, she does well in school, and she does her homework with little or no supervision. But we have to fight about her food. If I leave her unsupervised, she will not finish it. Sometimes she just stuffs food in her mouth and it sits there for a long time until I remind her to chew. I came up with a method that forces her to eat her food, and it has been working great. I have placed a clock on a wall next to the dining table. I tell her to look at where the hands are (she can’t properly read a clock yet). I then say that she must be finished when the short hand is at a certain point and the long hand is on a certain point. The timing is usually about thirty minutes. It is fun watching her taking each bite; she constantly checks how long she has to go and how far the hands are from the stipulated position. I now don’t have to shout at her to keep eating. I just have her brother to feed.
Think of the Consequences
Like I said earlier, your child depends on you for everything. You are her source of solace and you are also her role model. If you shout at her when you are angry, she will think that it is okay to shout when she is angry. Don’t be shocked when you find her shouting at her younger sibling at the top of her voice. In her mind, it is okay to shout at younger people because that is what you have modeled to her. She thinks shouting shows how grown up she is. But those are long-term consequences. The short-term consequences are the hurt feelings your child experiences when you shout at her and the guilt you feel for shouting at your child instead of dealing with the situation in a mature way. Before you shout at your child, ask yourself whether you want to deal with those consequences.
About the Author
G. Runo is an educator, a writer, a mother of two young children and a guardian of five teenagers. She has been a teacher and a curriculum developer for four years. She’s a passionate storyteller who enjoys sharing her parenting and education wisdom with other parents. Follow her on Twitter @grarun20.
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