How do you stop shouting at your child?

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How do you stop shouting at your child?

'To err is human, to forgive, divine.' Alexander Pope

The fact that you are reading this article means that you already recognise that shouting at your child is not a great solution to parenting. We are all guilty of it because we are all human and have our own emotional needs and triggers. But shouting can leave us physically drained and disappointed in our lack of control. Shouting at your child also models behaviour that the child will copy and conveys a number of negative messages:

I can be more aggressive than you
I only really mean it when I shout
You can totally ignore me until I shout
The only way to deal with conflict is to shout and become aggressive

Shouting is also confusing for children who can feel that their attachment to you is insecure. They may believe that you don't love them when you are shouting and therefore you cannot be trusted to love and care for them unconditionally. This can leave them feeling vulnerable and this insecurity can then lead to 'tests' of your love. 'Will they love me if I... shout, have a tantrum, throw things, destroy something.' It is therefore important to continually reassure children of your continuing love and that you will be there for them always. This is particularly important following arguments.

It is probably impossible to expect to never shout at your child ever again. No matter how many parenting tips you master there will always be times when you 'emotionally explode'. However, trying your best to avoid and reduce the frequency that you shout will have benefits for your well-being and that of your child.

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Strategies

It is important to apologise for shouting. Do it later when the situation has calmed down and explain how you felt: frustrated, annoyed or upset etc. Link it to the behaviour and not the child. But also explain how losing your control is not what you want to do. This helps to correct some of the negative messages, described above, that are inadvertently given.
It may seem cliched to say take three deep breaths or count to ten but these strategies do actually help.
Walk away when you feel yourself getting angry. Take time out when things get 'heated' and wait until you have had time to feel calm.
Avoid making ultimatums and threats that you can't or won't go through with. If your child tests your resolve you are likely to get very angry very quickly.
Try to ignore secondary behaviours and comments from your child that can quickly escalate in to an argument and raised voices.
Try to reflect on situations that make you raise your voice at your child. Could you have done something different? Could you of anticipated this conflict? What warning signs were there?
Use partial agreement to deflect arguments. E.g. 'I understand that you say you didn't hear me but now you can hear me and I want you to...'
Shut down arguments and walk away. E.g. 'I'm not going to argue with you anymore, I've told you what I want you need to do.'

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You may be interested in the following pages:

Emotional Regulation

Parent Questions and Answers

Self Calming Strategies

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