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Rising Father

9 Ways To Guide Your Child’s Behavior And Stop Yelling.

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It’s frustrating. You want another person to do what you want but they won’t. Oh yea, you’re in charge of that person. You’re responsible for their life. How they act around the house, at school, and in public shines a light on you. That puts a lot of pressure on parents to instill principles that stick. It’s tough when our efforts have no effect (or so it seems). 

Sometimes it feels like the only way to get them to listen is to yell. Yelling can have damaging consequences for both parents and children if it is used as a crutch. Obviously we sometimes will have to yell, but it’s important not to let that be our default strategy.

 These are suggestions and you should run them through your own filter of how you want your family to function. Here are 10 ways I’ve found to help guide behavior without yelling.

1) Talk with authority

Correct the behavior quickly after it happens with a loud, clear voice and simple message.

This demonstrates that you are serious about the rules and consequences for breaking them. Yelling is often ineffective and can lead to more problems, while a calm, clear voice sends a message that the parent is in control and will not tolerate bad behavior.

Make sure the message is short, clear, and to the point. If you or your spouse talks with a whiney, soft voice, make sure there is a clear difference when correcting behavior. A trailing lecture with no point will be forgotten but “you shouldn’t have done this, because this happened, now this will happen” will be effective immediately.  This may take practice but kids will respect what you are saying more if it is said with authority.

2) Praise positive behavior

When children behave the way we want them to, it’s important to let them know. This can be done with a simple “thank you” or “I appreciate that.” This is often called positive reinforcement. Here’s the rationale: You have two options when addressing a kid’s behavior. You can focus on calling out the negative behaviors, or praising the positive behaviors.

 A child often wants attention more than anything else so they will do whatever is giving them the most attention. If they are getting your attention by misbehaving, they will continue to do that. If they get it by doing the right thing then they will do that.

For example: If your son is at the park and he often plays tag by punching instead of tapping and you see him tap, publicly praise him for that. That feeling will feel good and he will want more of that so he will repeat the behavior.

3) Establish a routine

Father reading to daughter

A routine provides structure and stability for children. It gives them a sense of security because they know what to expect. When kids know what comes next, they are less likely to misbehave. Our kids want to feel safe and secure. It’s no surprise that children often act out when they don’t have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. A routine helps them know that everything is ok and provides that necessary structure and stability.

One way to establish a routine is to create a schedule and stick to it as closely as possible. This may be difficult at first, but with practice it will become easier. It also doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive. There can be plenty of flexibility within the framework so that kids can still enjoy their freedom. The key is for parents to be in control and lead by example.

4) Ignore minor infractions

Let’s face it, kids are going to test boundaries. It’s their job. If you correct every little thing they do wrong, you will be spending all day correcting them. That’s not fair to either of you. Pick your battles and let the small stuff go. This will help prevent power struggles and keep your energy focused on the important lessons you want them to remember.

Be the wise mentor helping them live a better life, not the nit picking helicopter parent who is always watching.

5) Set clear rules and consequences

In order to stop yelling, it’s important to set clear rules and expectations. Make sure everyone in the family is on the same page so that there is no confusion. Once the rules are established, it’s important to follow through with the consequences. This will help kids understand that you are serious about the rules and that they need to be followed.

If today it’s bad to eat snacks before dinner and tomorrow it’s ok, then they will not know what is acceptable or not. This also goes for parent to parent. Mom can’t allow one thing to go and dad cracks down. This only causes confusion for the child. Both have to be on the same page.

Consequences should be age-appropriate and consistent. They should also be related to the infraction. For example, if a child throws a toy, the consequence could be that they can’t play with that toy for the rest of the day. This will help them understand that their actions have consequences and that they need to think about what they do before they do it.

6) Give your child independence.

This can only happen when you are confident they have a good framework of acceptable behavior to live by. Once you are believe your child can take on some independence, let them fly. This is different for every age. When our daughter was 1 it meant walking across the playground without us. When my son was 8 it meant getting milk at the grocery store by himself. 

Giving them independence forces them to live by their own principles. They don’t have you by them to tell them yes or no. They have to stop and think about what they are doing. Is this right? What will happen if I do this? You can then talk the experience over with them and correct as needed.

If they fail during their test of independence, take a step back, reteach lessons, then give them another chance.

7) Be a role model

Be what you want to see in your kids. Don’t expect them to demonstrate a virtuous character trait you lack. They will have a disconnect between what you say and do. This will cause chaos and confusion for them. If you want them to be patient, be patient with them. If you want them to stop yelling, stop yelling at them.

Even though I think about this often I still get caught being a hypocrite. I watched my son say a sarcastic comment to his mom that was inappropriate. We had to talk with him about why it was wrong. While driving in the car a week later I found myself saying the exact same type of comment to my wife about someone I saw on TV. I looked in the rear view mirror and my son was looking at me. This cut me deep and was a quick reminder that they are always watching. I have to be the man I want to see in my kids.

8) Develop empathy in your kids

Show them how their actions affect other people. Often our kids don’t understand the impact of what they say or do. They might say something hurtful to a friend meanwhile they are just repeating what they heard on YouTube. When this happens, slow everything down and guide them.

 

Say you’re at a friends birthday party and watch your daughter make a mean comment to her friend. Your daughter turns away and starts talking to another friend, immediately forgetting what just happened. You look at the other girl and she’s clearly hurt, sitting by herself. Go to your daughter, repeat what she said to her, show her the girl that was hurt, and explain in real time how what she said was hurtful. Take your time and show the cause and effect.

9. See yourself from a child's point of view.

Be the wise guide, not the emotional nut. Imagine how you come off to your child when you lose it. A towering, terrifying man shouting down at you. No matter how great your words are, they won’t remember them. They will only remember how you made them feel at that moment. That image of you will be burned in their head. The worst part is our kid is now suffering because of OUR faults, not theirs. Learn strategies to stay calm and master yourself.

You can guide your child's behavior without yelling.

Raising kids can be a daunting task, but we love them with all our heart. They’re our everything. We would do anything for them. Sometimes, in the moment, it may seem like yelling is the only way to get our point across and stop their bad behavior. Let’s set the right example for them. Use other techniques than yelling to guide our children’s behavior. Let’s make our legacy one of wisdom, not chaos.

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