Are you a parent who finds themselves regularly wanting to pull their hair out with frustration, experiencing feelings of guilt about the way you respond to your child/ren and/or are feeling battle-weary & exhausted? Then you need to read this. How to stop yelling at your kids and become the calm mum you want to be, in 3 steps.
Why is it that our kids seem to not want to listen, especially when we really want them to do something? Or resist doing something we know is good for them, have melt downs over the smallest things or seem to go out of their way to push our buttons?
So step 1 is we need to understand why!
1.Seeing the world from little shoes
Understanding the world from your child’s perspective is imperative to the life-changing shift that will happen when we start to change the power struggle dynamic that is most certainly going on if you nodded yes to the above paragraphs.
Firstly kids innately crave attention and connection. When they feel a disconnection from us they feel unsafe, and express this in child-like ways. Generally, they will either act out, get angry or becoming clingy, depending on the age & personality of the child.
Have you noticed that your child is always more clingy when you’re distracted & have things you want to do? When I’m present & connected, our toddler seems so secure & independent, without an ounce of separation anxiety, because he senses our connection.
Children also crave power. From around 18 months they begin to develop their own will and a sense of autonomy & control over their own world.
WE are in control of everything, we call the shots, we tell them when to eat, when to sleep, when they need a nappy or clothing change.
Have you noticed that the more attached you are to your child doing something, the more they’re likely to dig their heels in?
Baby’s & children are so so sensitive to their emotional environment, and they experience that controlling feeling in us as a demand and it feels really uncomfortable to them.
Think of a time when someone really wanted you to do something and pressured or tried to control you somehow. You ended up wanting to do the opposite, didn’t you?
It’s totally developmentally appropriate for them to begin to want power and independence from around 18-20 months, which is why parents generally start to struggle with mealtimes, bedtime and potty training (if they do it) at this time.
Our children have control over these 3 things – we can’t make them eat, sleep, pee or poo, although the truth is that most of us would like to most of the time.
But the thing is, we all have free will, it is an innate human quality.
It is their choice.
We want to think we can make them do things & make the rules, but our children have free will.
So we need to honor a child’s need for free will & power.
If kids aren’t given enough choice & free will in positive & productive ways, they’ll find power any way they can, often through negative behaviors and power struggles.
So timeouts, for example, don’t actually teach the child anything. It will simply escalate the power struggle. Some of us have more controlling approaches which will fuel these power struggles.
And keep in mind that getting a reaction out of us is a power hit. It’s like ‘Woah look at the effect I can have on big mum who usually has it all together.’ And it sparks their curiosity.
From a young age, children are seeking ways to feel powerful and significant. If we don’t give them a sense of this in positive ways they’ll seek it in negative ways.
Recognise that behavioral issues are never just about the child
ALL of us become intensely triggered by our children at times. Know that their behavior is NEVER just about them.
There is a dynamic at play, and our children, quite simply, show us our stuff. And they are not to blame for that.
Children don’t want to make our lives difficult.
Even saying to yourself ‘I’m really … (angry/frustrated/afraid) right now’ is enough to stop those feelings being directed at our children, at least in that moment.
They are not responsible for our feelings. It’s a heavy load for them to carry when we want to make them responsible.
For more about owning our stuff & dealing with emotions go here
Unfortunately, most of us have been parented using dominating & fear-based tactics. But inciting fear doesn’t create a long-term change. It actually destroys trust, and the child will shut down & put up a wall that can last a lifetime & beyond.
Most of us don’t want to do that but when you are raised that way yourself it tends to become the default mode.
But there is another way.
It involves respecting your child as a unique human being.
Make a pact with yourself that if you can’t deal with the issue calmly & respectfully in that moment, to wait until you can.
Using firm boundaries and natural consequences
It’s up to us to teach & demonstrate healthy, loving boundaries. Be consistent and follow through.
We want to teach responsibility rather than entitlement, and we do this by allowing natural consequences and not protecting them from the consequences of their choices.
Consequences need to be related to the issue. Eg not cleaning teeth means no sugar. You can’t force a child to do anything because they have free will. So if they choose not to clean their teeth a response could be ‘That’s fine & your choice, but we’ll have to change your diet and take out the sweet treats’.
The consequence must feel fair & related to the issue, or it won’t work, it will only make them angry, and they’ll feel justified in further negative behavior.
Tell them what the consequence will be in advance, give them a choice, give them the power to determine how things will go.
‘Having …. (the sweet treat for example) is a privilege, it’s a gift we give you, not a right. We don’t have to give it to you, and we will want to stop giving it to you if you don’t want to brush your teeth, because we don’t want your teeth to become unhealthy.’
Also, when we fall into the pattern of repeating & reminding it robs children of the opportunity to take responsibility. And most times this results in it escalating to yelling.
Simply ask ‘what could you do to help you to remember our new rule?’
It’s not your job to remember for them, it’s his or hers. How freeing is that?!
So there you have it, 3 steps that are simple but involve a bit of a shift in our thinking & our approach that I guarantee will be SO powerful when implemented.
Want to go Deeper?
Amy McReady of Positive Parenting Solutions teaches these powerful principals and so much more.
Amy is like the nanny we all want.
Her online course immediately gives you the tools, it is just chokka block full of value
Go here to sign up for her free webinar.
Amy challenges many traditional and also more modern parenting beliefs & tactics in a rational & empathetic way, providing insight & actionable steps & changes you can implement & see results immediately.
I loved this course! Even though my partner and I had an understanding of these principals before doing the course, I found there were so many useful & actionable tools and I now feel more ready for the years ahead with our 20-month-old.
- Based on firm psychology & scientific studies.
- Amy is an insightful, practical & empathetic guide. You will want to take Amy home with you and have her as your live in Nanny.
- I love how Amy brings it back to the parent – that they are at least 50% of the problem. I personally believe this percentage is higher, especially in the dynamic with a younger child.
- LOADS of actionable tools, heaps of value.
Con’s (well they’re not really con’s)
- There were just a couple of things that I don’t personally resonate with in Amy’s course, mostly to do with the underlying psychology. For example, I don’t agree with Amy’s stance of calling the parenting types ‘personalities’. I don’t believe anyone has a naturally controlling or superior personality. We are controlling because we are afraid. We seek to feel superior because we actually feel inferior. No one is stuck with a controlling personality.
But I don’t feel that this takes away from the value of the course. It was designed to help parents make positive & real changes and I believe it does this very effectively. And I do feel that looking at your primary emotional style of parenting is useful and an excellent early step to taking responsibility within the dynamic we have created with our child/ren.
We have to look at this stuff. So I believe that Amy does a good job of helping parents to see the basic dynamics at play within a family and offers excellent tools to adjust your approach in a more loving, gentle & respectful way.
- I also don’t believe that children’s tantrums need to be avoided at all costs, as is part of the approach with this course. Personally, I feel that children should be supported to feel what they need to feel, and sometimes yes they do need to scream out their anger and express it through their bodies on the floor.
But I understand this approach and it may be perfect for some, who are simply wanting guidance to become more respectful, gentle and conscious as parents.
So overall I highly recommend this course, and at the very least, do yourself (and family) a favor and watch Amy’s free webinar, which in itself contains life-changing value!
One Last Tip
Do you believe that there’s more to your child’s negative behavior patterns than what we touched upon here? Do they struggle with issues like ADHD & hyperactivity, difficulties focussing, anxiety or other extreme emotions such as rage?
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