20 Ways to Stop Yelling at the Kids So Much

Megan Zander | Feb 25, 2019 Big Kid
20 Ways to Stop Yelling at the Kids So Much
Image: evgenyatamanenko/iStock

how to stop yelling
evgenyatamanenko/iStock

I'm driving the kids to their weekly karate class, and once again they've decided the 10-minute trip is the perfect time to start screaming made up songs at top volume. Frustrated, because this same thing happened both last week and the week before that, I quickly lose my cool, just like I did on those rides. 

"WE ONLY USE INSIDE VOICES IN THE CAR," I bellow from the front seat. I launch into a red-faced tirade about acceptable car behavior that I'm not sure they're even listening to. The entire time some small part of my brain sees the irony in yelling at the kids about not yelling in the car, and yet I can't stop. 

We arrive at karate, where I spend the entire lesson feeling guilty about losing my cool yet again. 

I know I'm not the only one who dusts off their vocal cords when dealing with the kids, but that doesn't make the guilt any less. Many of us find ourselves resorting to yelling when we're frustrated with the kids' behavior. But if we're being really honest with ourselves, yelling as a form of discipline rarely accomplishes anything. It might vent our emotions and make us feel better in that exact moment, but beyond giving us a sore throat and teaching our kids that it's OK to raise our voices when we're upset, yelling isn't getting much done on the parenting front

Old habits can be hard to break, especially when dealing with stressful situations. But with some time and practice, it is possible to bust out of the yelling/guilt/repeat parenting cycle and be a calmer, happier parent. We've rounded up 20 tips and techniques to try when the urge to yell strikes. Find one that works for the family, or use a combination of methods to be a mom who yells a little less. 

  • Go to a Happy Place

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    Have a calming visual to call to mind whenever the urge to yell arises. It could be a giant red stop sign that serves as a reminder to stop what we're doing. Or it could be the classic picturing ourselves on a warm, tropical beach. Any place or thing that can help shake that present impulse to raise our voice. 

  • Rubber Band Trick

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    For people who respond well to visual reminders, try putting a bright hair tie on one wrist at the start of the day. The band stays on as long as we don't yell. Look to the wrist when things start to get stressful and try to make it through the day with it still there. Want to ease into the technique? Start with two or three bands each morning, and aim to have at least one left at the end of the day. 

  • Mom Reward Jar

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    We've all heard of using a reward jar for the kids when they behave, but the theory can work just as well for us adults. Stash a bag of high-end truffles or gourmet jelly beans in the cabinet and use them as special rewards for keeping cool when there's a temptation to yell. Being calm never tasted so sweet.

  • Whisper

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    Many times when we yell at the kids, it's because we're trying to get them to change their behavior or listen to us. Rather than raising our voices (which doesn't work) get their attention by dropping the volume instead. When the kids won't stop screeching in the backseat, whispering the plans for the afternoon might get them to quiet down, too. 

  •  Reward Chart

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    Reward charts are a tried-and-true way to motivate our kids towards a tricky goal, and they can work for us, too. Pick something like a new outfit or getting a manicure as a reward for a week of no yelling. Plus, keeping a visual reminder of our progress can help us see how far we've come at yelling less and serve as encouragement on rougher days. 

  • Take a Mom-Out

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    Rather than putting the kids in time-out when things get tense, we can remember that removing ourselves from the situation is also a valid option. Make sure the kids are safe, then step into another room long enough to take some deep breaths and calm down. Chances are after a few seconds away, the urge to yell will pass. 

  • Jump Around

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    Yelling is a way to vent pent-up frustration. Rather than scare the kids with our loud noises, we can take our frustrations out by jumping around instead. When the urge to yell hits, run in place or do some jumping jacks. Not only will it help us cool down, but the unexpected behavior may get the kids to stop what they were doing that was so frustrating in the first place. 

  • Reach Out

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    Sometimes all we need is a sympathetic ear to listen and tell us we're doing a great job. Enlist a close, trusted friend who's not the type to judge and be each other's vent buddy. Shooting a quick text or making a call to someone who totally gets it when the kids have us at the end of our ropes can make everything a little easier. 

  • Hit the Lights

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    Remember when the teacher used to turn off the classroom lights when she wanted everyone to stop talking? We're the grownups now, and we can totally use this method to shift our own kids' behavior. Rather than yelling to get the kids to listen when it's time to clean up or get ready, hit the lights to grab their attention quickly and calmly. 

  • Plan to Avoid Triggers

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    Take some time to identify common events that lead to yelling and see if there's an easy solution. If every morning ends in a screaming match because the kids can't find their shoes, try establishing a place by the door where they can slip them on easily. If getting dressed is a struggle, consider laying out outfits the night before. 

  • Squeeze Something

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    Sometimes we're just frustrated, and we want to get all those bad feelings out. Having a stress ball on hand is a useful way to burn off those bent up emotions without raising our voices. Don't have a ball around? Grab one of the kids' squishy toys from under the couch. They work just as well, if not better. 

  • Keep a Journal

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    Take a minute each night before bedtime to jot down how the day went, both as a parent as in general. Not only will this help track any progress towards being a calmer mom, it can also be helpful to see if outside stressors, like work or relationship issues, are inadvertently being taken out on the kids in the form of yelling. 

  • Count to 10

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    We've all used the "count to three" method when trying to entice our kids to do something (what happens when a mom gets to three? No one knows) But counting can also come in handy as a calm-down technique. For moments when tensions are high and we can't step away for a breath, closing our eyes and counting to 10 is a quick way to reset and think before we act. 

  • Be a Team

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    For moms who are sick of yelling at the kids to help out around the house, or find themselves raising their voices when trying to keep the kids away while doing chores, adopting a teamwork mindset can help. Working together or allowing the kids to pitch in can eliminate the need to yell and get the work done faster.

  • Mom Like Everyone's Watching

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    We've all had moments when the kids are acting less than perfect in public, and because we're momming in public, we don't want anyone to see us yell. Pretend the house is a stage and everyone's watching even when alone with the kids as a way to help think of discipline methods besides yelling. 

  • Get Silly

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    Many times when we yell at our kids, it's because we're trying to get them to listen to us to no avail. When raising our voice isn't working, maybe it's time to try getting silly. Rather than yell that it's time for dinner, try calling the crew in a silly alien voice. Kids refusing to go to bed? Sing them the riot act -- don't yell it. 

  • Ask for Help

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    If we're serious about cutting down on the times that we boil over, then we need to let our partners know we're not happy with how things currently are and that we want them to change. Ask them to gently point out when tempers seem close to flaring and to step in and take over parenting duties for a second, if need be. 

  • Open the Windows

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    If the weather is warm enough, opening the windows as a sneaky way to self-regulate our tone with the kids. After all, no one wants to awkwardly face the neighbors after they've heard us screaming our heads off at the kids. Plus all the fresh air and sunshine helps things seem more positive.  

  • Hug It Out

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    It sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes when we want to scream our heads off at our kids, the best thing we can do is wrap them in a giant hug. Not only is human contact good for all of us, but kids sometimes act out to get our attention, and a hug may be just what they need to get back on track. 

  • Focus on the Positive

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    evgenyatamanenko/iStock

    Even when we slip up and lose our cool (it happens, we're human!) It's important to try and focus on the positive. Take the time to apologize. Then, rather than wallowing in what went wrong, set the rest of the day up to be better by taking a second to think about what makes being a mom awesome and why kids are the best. It will get easier, we promise!

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