January 2020 archive

How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids – An 8-Step Plan…

Yelling, for many parents, has become their “go-to” reaction. Many well-meaning, well-intentioned parents feel that yelling is the only way they can get their kids to listen or take them seriously. Been there? Yep, me too!

You see, even though I’m a parent coach, I *still* find myself yelling from time to time, even when I know I “shouldn’t,” because, like all of us, I have triggers.
What I’ve learned over the many years of doing this work, is that managing our own emotions and responses takes practice and patience – lots of it!

Although yelling may feel like the answer in the moment, it’s important we consider the longer-term effects this behavior has on our kids…especially when it’s happening more often than we’d like.

Consider, for a moment, what it feels like to be yelled at. Yelling signals the brain that a threat is looming. When the brain senses a threat, it moves into fight/flight/freeze mode. This is when you may see, for example, defensiveness/back talk/yelling back (fight), running into another room (flight) or blank stares (freeze). Unfortunately, by this point, kids have already tuned out. They’re more focused on self-preservation and will do whatever their temperament dictates as a way of “protecting” themselves. The original message gets lost and the relationship enters shaky ground.

Many parents turn to yelling as a way to exert control, but have you ever noticed that you may resort to yelling when you’re actually feeling OUT of control?? We can’t expect our kids to control their behavior if we’re unable to control our own.

So, to reduce (and ideally eliminate) yelling, it’s helpful to begin by coming up with a plan for yourself.

Here are 8 steps to help you yell less and connect more:

1.) Think about the situations that trigger you the most. Maybe it’s when your child ignores you after you make a request. Or maybe it’s when they talk back to you. Or maybe it’s when they throw that wonderful meal you spent hours preparing across the room?

2.) Notice the feelings that come up. Anger? Irritation? Frustration? Powerlessness? Defeat?

3.) Pay attention to the thoughts that arise. “I can’t believe he/she just did that! How dare him/her!” “I need to get a handle on this or he’s going to turn into a delinquent!” “She sounds like such a spoiled brat!”

4.) Challenge and replace those thoughts – “My child is still learning.” “My child is not out to get me.” “I can help him/her learn a kinder way of speaking to me.” “I can handle this calmly and respectfully.” “I need to focus on connecting before correcting.”

5.) Commit to PAUSING when you notice any of the above and do something to TAKE CARE of yourself. For example, BREATHE (slowly and deeply), walk out of the room, count to 10, close your eyes, give yourself a hug (yes, a hug!), go outside and notice something in nature, grab a piece of paper and write out your thoughts/feelings or just scribble! Whatever works best for you.

6.) Let your kids know about your plan and the commitment you are making to reduce your yelling. Invite them to help you come up with a silent signal (peace sign, hand over their heart, finger on their lips) that they can do when they sense you’re hitting your boiling point. Tell them it will serve as your reminder to pause and choose another tone. The discussion may sound something like, “I know I’ve been yelling a lot. I’m sure it doesn’t feel good to you and it certainly doesn’t feel good to me either. I love you and, it’s not ok for me to yell at you. I want to let you know that I’ve come up with a plan for what I can do instead of yelling. You may see me taking lots of deep breaths, or you may see me walking away. You may even see me give myself a hug! I yell when I’m angry/ frustrated (etc) and it’s my job to take charge of my feelings and reactions and speak to you with respect. I may need some support and would love your help in coming up with a signal you can use when you see I’m starting to lose my patience (ask what they like best).  That signal can help me get back on track.  If you forget, that’s ok.  I’m working on remembering myself.  Please know how much I love you and care about our relationship.”

7.) If you end up yelling, do you best to recognize it, take responsibility by apologizing, let your child know what you will do differently next time and focus on reconnecting. For example, “I yelled at you and that wasn’t ok.  I apologize.  It’s not ok for me to speak to you that way.  Next time, I will walk into the other room and take deep breaths like this (show them). I’m sorry.  I don’t know about you, but I could sure use a hug!”

8.)  Practice, practice, practice and be kind to yourself – you’re learning new skills right alongside your kids.

I completely recognize this is not an easy habit to break! The good news? You don’t have to go through it alone. Please feel free to reach out if you’d like a little support from someone who’s been there! 😉

Wishing you all the best,
Debbie

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6 Parenting Tips to Start Off the New Year

Happy New Year! With the holiday hecticness behind us, now is a wonderful time to slow down and give yourself permission to take some time for you. How have you been feeling? Drained? Energized? Somewhere in between? What might you need to better nurture yourself? I recently read a quote which really touched me, “You matter because of who you are, not just who you parent. Let that sink in!

At the start of a new year (and daily!), I love to set intentions. Intentions are focused on how we want to live our lives; how we want to “be” in the world. Unlike a goal, which is about achieving or attaining something, intentions reflect our values and a sense of purpose. For me, intention setting typically involves asking myself “How do I want to “show up” – in my life and in my parenting?” I invite you to give it a try and see what comes up for you!

With this in mind, I wanted to offer 6 positive discipline parenting tips to support you as you ease into this new year:

1.) Know your “no” – The endless list of events, parties and volunteer requests is enough to drive any of us to the point of exhaustion! Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. Before saying “yes” to an invitation or request, take a moment to pause. Do an honest self check-in. Ask yourself if this “event” realistically fits into your busy schedule and if you’re attending or helping out of joy or obligation? Just know, it’s ok to say “no.” Remember, saying “no” to one thing creates space to say “yes” to yourself!

2.) Look for “yes” – On the flip side, when it comes to our children, “no” and “stop” are words that kids tend to hear all too often (“No hitting!” “Stop jumping on the bed!” “No, you can’t have a cookie.”) Hearing these words can easily trigger our child to break out their boxing gloves, ready for a fight – they instinctively raise anyone’s defenses! Instead, see if you can look for a “yes.” Some examples, “Yes, you can have a cookie after dinner.” “Yes, we can read stories as soon as your jammies are on.” “Yes, you can go to your friends as soon as your homework is done.” Save your “no’s” for when you *really* need them.

3.) Set realistic expectations AND make agreements ahead of time – Children thrive on structure and routine and do best when they are clear about what’s expected of them. Let your kids know what will be happening ahead of time and together make agreements about what behavior is expected. For example, “We’re going to be going over to grandma’s today. There will be a lot of people there who are very excited to see you and it’s kind to acknowledge them. How would you like to greet everyone? High fives? Hugs? Fist pumps?” The other most helpful question to ask your child/children is, “What do we need to remember about how we ______?” As in, “What do we need to remember about how we behave at grandma’s/a restaurant/our friends house?” Once decided, come up with things they can do to take care of themselves if they start to get tired, feel overwhelmed etc. Problem solving with your child models respect and increases the likelihood of cooperation.

4.) Ask more than you tell (and offer choices) – All day long, children are constantly being told what to do, when, how, where and why to do it. It’s no wonder they tune us out! Engage their critical thinking, decision making and problem solving skills by asking questions such as, “What do you need to bring with you so you won’t feel cold outside?” “Would you like to walk the dog or take out the trash?” “Would you like to hold my hand or have me carry you when we cross the street?” “What’s supposed to be happening now?”

5.) Create “special time” – It’s so easy to get caught up in the mad rush to get things done that we may not realize the effect this has on our children. What our kids want more than anything is to feel significant and connected. I like to think of our kids as having little “love tanks.” When these tanks are low, we’re more likely to see acting out. When they’re full, the day tends to go more smoothly. So, aim to spend dedicated, uninterrupted, device-free, 1:1 time with each child. Even 10-15 minutes can do wonders for your relationship. Life is hectic, so just do the best that you can. The message you’re sending is “I’m all yours!”

6.) Don’t sweat the small stuff – At the end of the day, it’s important to know and remind yourself that the way things are today won’t last forever. Our children are always growing, maturing and evolving, especially as we guide them in learning the skills they need to thrive in this big, complicated world. Ideally we’re evolving too! This too shall pass. ❤️

Wishing you and your family all the best!
With warmth and gratitude,
Debbie

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