10 Important Steps to Stop Yelling at Kids


As much as it is largely ineffective and unprofessional we have all yelled at our students at one time or another. It can be extremely hard to remain calm when students become unruly and uncooperative.

Although intended for parents, this list by Laura Markham, Ph.D. provides sound strategies for maintaining composure around children:

1. Commit to your child that you’ll use a respectful voice.  (Who else will keep you accountable?) Tell your kids that you’re learning, so you’ll make mistakes…but that you’ll get better and better at it.

2. Realize that your #1 job as a parent is to manage your own emotions, so you’re modeling emotional regulation and can help your child learn to manage his emotions. Kids learn empathy when we empathize with them. They learn to scream at us when we raise our voice at them.

3. Remember that kids will act like kids — that’s their job! They’re immature humans, learning the ropes. They push on limits to see what’s solid. They experiment with power so they can learn to use it responsibly. Their frontal cortex won’t be fully developed until age 25, so their emotions often take over, which means they can’t think straight when they’re upset. And, like other humans, they don’t like feeling controlled.

4. Stop gathering “kindling” — those resentments you start to pile up when you’re having a bad day. Once you have enough kindling, a firestorm is inevitable. Instead, stop, take responsibility for your own mood, give yourself what you need to feel better, and shift yourself to a happier place.

5. Offer empathy when your child expresses emotion — any emotion — so she’ll start to accept her own feelings, which is the first step in learning to manage them. Once children can manage their emotions, they can manage their behavior. Feeling understood also keeps kids from going off the deep end with their upsets so often.

6. Stay connected and see things from your child’s perspective, even while you’re setting limits. When kids believe we’re on their side, they WANT to “behave,” so they’re more accepting of our limits, and they don’t push our buttons as often.

7. When you get angry, STOP. Shut your mouth. Don’t take any action or make any decisions. BREATHE deeply. If you’re already yelling, stop in mid-sentence. Don’t continue until you’re calm.

8. Breathe and just notice your feelings. Remove yourself from the situation if possible; otherwise, run some water and splash it on your face to shift your attention from your child to your inner state. Under that anger is fear, and sadness, and disappointment. Let all that well up, and just breathe. Let the tears come if you need to. Once you let yourself feel what’s under the anger — without taking action — the anger just melts away.

9. Find your own wisdom. From this calmer place, imagine there’s an angel on your shoulder who sees things objectively and wants what’s best for everyone in the situation. This is your own personal parenting coach. What does she say? Can she give you a mantra to see things differently, like “I don’t have to “win” here…I can let him save face.”  What would she suggest to get things on a better path? What can you do right now? (Don’t skip this step. Research shows it works!)

10. Take positive action from this calmer place. That might mean you ask your child for a do-over. It might mean you apologize. It might mean you help your cranky child with her feelings, so she can have a good cry and you can all have a better day. It might mean you blow off the housework and just snuggle under the covers with your kids and a pile of books until everyone feels better. Just take one step toward helping everyone feel, and do, better — including you.

Click on the link to read Classroom Management is Getting Harder

Click on the link to read The Dog Eat Dog Style of Education

Click on the link to read Problem Kids, Suspensions and Revolving Doors

Click on the link to read Useful Resources to Assist in Behavioural Management

Click on the link to read When Something Doesn’t Work – Try Again Until it Does


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