Last Updated on November 5, 2020 by Corinne Schmitt
If you can learn to discipline without yelling, you can spare yourself a lot of mom guilt. No matter how much we love our kids, each of us reaches a breaking point when we fail to control our words and/or voices.
Once you’ve breached this barrier once, it seems to happen again more easily, and then, more frequently. Eventually, you may get to a point when you don’t think your kids even know you’re speaking to them unless you’re yelling.
If you feel like you are reaching that point, don’t despair! It is possible to discipline without yelling. We just need to take a step back to see the path.
My Inspiration to Discipline Without Yelling
I came across something on Pinterest the other day that really grabbed my attention. The pin caption was “10 things I learned when I stopped yelling at my kids” and the picture was of two kids standing in front of an open refrigerator, one of the children climbing on the shelves to reach something on the top shelf of the refrigerator. The Wondermom that I wannabe doesn’t yell at her kids, so I had to check out the article immediately!
The amazing SAHM who wrote the article decided to challenge herself to go one year without yelling at her kids after getting caught screaming at them by a handyman. I admired her strength in taking on such a task since one year is a long time.
In my head I thought, “Good for her! I wish I was brave enough to try that.” I had already talked myself out of her challenge, feeling doomed by (what I considered) unreasonable length of time required to achieve success.
And then I read her list of what she learned after she had succeeded and got to “My kids are my most important audience.” She points out that we manage to NOT yell in public all the time because we are so worried about being judged by other people, yet it’s at home where we lose control in front of our most important audience—our kids.
Her entire list is worth reading, but this was the one that tipped me over.
What Causes You to Yell
Before you can take control of your yelling, you have to identify your triggers. For me, it was whining.
For many parents, yelling occurs when a child is about to harm himself or others. I love these logical consequences for hitting as an alternative to yelling.
Perhaps you lose your cool when your child ignores you, lies, skips chores, or fights with her siblings. Of course we don’t want our kids to do any of these things, but which ones really set you off?
Take time to figure out your hot button issues so you can create a firmer disclipine strategy for those behaviors.
How to Keep Your Cool
As a mom, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We have a lot of responsibilities and often have to function in less-than-ideal circumstances.
Rarely do we have all the time, money, energy, sleep, or comfortable conditions we need to weather every challenge with a smile. So, it’s important for us to have some go-to methods for keeping our anger in check.
Sometimes the easiest way to blow off steam is to exert that energy in a good workout. Whether it’s a brisk walk, jump roping, shadowboxing, or calisthenics, burning calories can also burn out your anger.
Watch some funny videos, google funny memes, or just try to remember something that made you laugh in the past. It’s hard to stay angry when you’re smiling or laughing.
If you can’t tickle your own funny bone, force a smile. The act might be enough to turn your mood around, even if it’s only because you feel silly wearing a big, fake smile.
If you’ve ever done yoga, you know how calming it can be to concentrate on your breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and deeply, concentrating on filling your lungs all the way to the bottom. Your abdomen should expand as you do.
Hold the breath for a couple of seconds, then exhale slowly. By the third full breath, you should feel yourself calming.
Don’t think about anything other than the breathing. After 10 full breaths, you should have control over your emotions again.
When I’m really angry, I resist calming strategies. Instead, I find it very cathartic to allow myself to be violent.
Of course, I don’t want to actually destroy or harm anything. Instead, I take out my frustration on a scrap piece of wood.
I simply hammer nails into a piece of wood. This is easy to do and lets you work out some anger. It’s also inexpensive and safe.
How to Discipline Without Yelling
The key to learning to discipline without yelling is to have easy, reliable alternatives to yelling. Here are the ones that have worked best for me:
This is one of my favorites, and actually, one of my kids’ favorites too. It also happens to be my most repinned post on Pinterest.
The “X” Chart
First, fill out the House Rules page and go over it with your child(ren). Post it somewhere prominently where the kids will see it easily.
Then, print the X Chart and have your child(ren) help you fill in the consequences. You will need one chart for each child and each child should have a say in his/her consequences.
Place each chart in a page protector (or laminate them). Each time a child breaks one of the rules, simply have the child make an X on the chart with a dry erase marker.
As you can see, they get a few freebies. Eventually, though, they start to lose consequences.
Depending on the age of your child, you can erase the X’s at the end of each day or each week.
Toy Time Out Box
My biggest parenting challenge has been to get my children to put their things away.
So one day when I was about to explode because after several hours and lots of yelling my kids’ rooms still looked like someone had set off a grenade inside their toy chests, I decided to take matters into my own hands and clean up everything myself—right into a garbage bag.
Unfortunately, this was as painful for me as it was for them since I knew how much everything cost that I had just thrown away. After that incident, I changed my strategy and replaced the garbage bag with a large cardboard box and made the children fill it instead of me.
Then, I sealed it up with packing tape and stored it in the garage for one month, which feels like an eternity to a child. I have also “rewarded” my children by pulling out the box early when they do something especially helpful or kind.
Brother or Sister’s Choice
I have never had the pleasure of using this technique because the threat of it has always been enough. Quite simply, when one child is breaking a rule, you let him or her know that if the behavior doesn’t change immediately, you will allow his or her sibling to choose the punishment.
It’s natural to become overwhelmed from time to time and resort to yelling at your children. When this happens, take a step back and figure out what went wrong. Then, follow the guidelines above to take back control so you can discipline without yelling and raise well-behaved children who also feel valued and loved.