How can you stop shouting at your kids?


Swore you'd never be a 'shouty mum' but yell on a regular basis? You're not alone. Top parenting experts offer some alternatives:

1. Compromise
Who says you always have to 'win' to be a firm and effective parent? "Boundaries are important but you can be flexible within these boundaries," says psychologist Emma Citron. "For instance, you want the TV off now but your child wants 10 more minutes. Agreeing to five more minutes helps your child feel they have some control and are being listened to."

2. Use your words
"We say this to our children all the time, but sometimes it applies to adults too," says Dr Chicot. "A slow, authoritative tone imparts more gravitas, especially if you explain that a certain behaviour is not acceptable, why and how it makes you feel it. This will help teach your child to be empathic, emotionally literate and assertive when communicating their own needs."

3. Take a time out
Again, this is a strategy we often use with our kids but that can be successfully applied to adults! "I have been known to lock myself in the downstairs cloakroom," says Kathryn Mewes, aka The Three Day Nanny. "Make sure the children are in safe space and then step away for a moment. Breathe deeply and step back into the situation calmly. I talk in a firm voice, different to my usual tone, and this shows a child that I am confident in what I'm saying and that I'm in control."

4. Check in with your own feelings
If you blow your top in a situation you'd normally face calmly, you may be anxious about something else. "Taking time to recognise our own state of mind and how that might affect our parenting is important," says Dr Bailey. "Acknowledge your feelings and then try to separate them from your response to your child's irritating behaviour." Easier said than done - but it works!

5. 'SEED' good behaviour
"When you get used to using this technique you can use it to head off shouting matches before they even start," says Dr Bailey.
S - Show sympathy with your child if they're resisting your requests and tell them you understand.
E - Explain why you're asking them to do whatever it is you're asking.
E - Outline your expectations. Let them know how quickly you want them to do something... Then remind them again when the time is up.
D - Divert their attention with a positive alternative.

6. Be empathetic
This can be tough, because showing kindness towards a mini-person intent on pressing all your buttons is asking a lot. "But by trying to understand your child's behaviour,you'll get a better idea of why they're not responding to you," says Dr Bailey. "You'll also be less likely to shout when faced with this behaviour in the future, or able to head it off completely. We often overlook and dismiss the importance of acknowledging our children's feelings for fear of 'spoiling' or giving into them, when the reality is we'd never treat a friend or our partner in that way."

7. Shouting despite all your best efforts
Remember that children don't need (or want) perfect parents, just parents who are 'good enough'. It's OK to stop mid-shout and admit to your child that you're struggling and you're going to take a moment to calm down.