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Help! I Yell At My Kids Too Much!

Cheryl T. asks:

I’m a single mom. My kids are 9, 7 & 4. I yell at my kids too much. I try not to but it’s hard because I don’t have much help with them. They don’t always listen when I tell them to do things. I’ve only hit them a few times but I don’t really believe in beating butts. My mother raised me and my brother that way and I hated it. But these kids of mine are wearing my patience thin. How can I stop yelling so much so that I don’t stress myself out and them too? Thanks.

Mother Wit says:

Dear Cheryl,

First let me say that I admire you for wanting to make some changes in how you interact with your kids. A lot folks don’t always realize that they need to make changes so they just go on doing the same old things and dealing with the same old problems.

Believe me, I know that children can work your nerves. But a whole lot of hollering doesn’t help you or the situation. When my kids would lose their minds I used self-control methods to distract me from the tension of the moment and help me keep control over the situation. Sometimes I would look up to the ceiling and pray, “Lord Jesus please help me. I don’t want to hurt these kids. Father please give me the strength to endure.” Sometimes I would count to 30 and just breathe. Sometimes I would leave the room and close myself off in a closet or bathroom until I was calm.

Cheryl, it’s normal and human to have moments when you get angry. But yelling makes the situation worse and teaches your little ones that it’s okay for them to act that way when they get upset. You might think this is a bit radical, but when you do yell, apologize to your kids and tell them something like: “Mama was frustrated. I’m sorry I yelled at you.” Then, tell them what you’re going to do differently next time. This models for your kids what they should do when they make a mistake.

Make a plan to help you stay calm. Identify what makes you feel like yelling. Write down what your kids do that causes you to lose your temper. Be specific. Include when and where the behavior occurs. Identify what happens to you before you yell so that you learn to recognize your warning signs and take steps to calm down before you begin yelling. Write down what you will do differently such as taking a deep breath, leaving the situation for five minutes or using positive self-talk. Staying calm is not easy, and you have to work at it.

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