Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Picture this: I cannot stop yelling at my kids. I have tried, for years. I don't have the patience and the guilt is real. They are young, 12 and 9. I've yelled forever and I fear it has now become part of who they are becoming. I notice when they want something, they yell about it. When they're mad, they yell about it. They yell at each other and have started yelling at me and their father. I tend to respond with more yelling despite my efforts, ugh. I hate to see all of this transpiring and I don't know how to stop it at this point. My mom was a yeller growing up, so I feel like it came to me naturally. When the kids tested my patience, I lost control and started yelling. I would try my hardest to stop this by asking nicely for them to do something, after 5 times of asking nicely and getting no response... I became angry and started yelling. I think they've learned "mom doesn't mean business until she's yelling, so you don't have to listen the first time." How can I start reversing this? I am losing my mind, I'm probably doing real damage to them and all they're going to remember of their childhood is that their mom yelled at them all the time!
We asked an expert on this one and got in touch with Katelynn Villari, MSW, LCSW. Katelynn is the Clinical Director of Intown Family Therapy in Atlanta, Georgia.
She was so kind and eager to help provide some insight on this topic. If you can't figure out how to stop yelling at your kids, you're going to find this post very helpful. Katelynn really took the time to give you action steps you can start taking today to get on a road of better communication with the family.
Take it away, Katelynn!
As an adolescent, family, and children’s therapist, hearing this scenario really inspired me to applaud it ‘s writer! Raising children is hard enough, but it is extremely admirable to put oneself in such a vulnerable position and reflect on the messages we are sending our kids.
Social work researcher Brene Brown really broke down your statement when she said the real “question isn't so much "Are you parenting the right way?" as it is: "Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?".
Asking these questions can begin to break cycles of behaviors passed from generation to generation and continue in the betterment of the word’s emotional IQ.
Emotional IQ encompasses how we communicate and engage with one another and is greatly tied to any trauma we experience. Stressed communication could be a result of many things including an inability to reconcile trauma, unidentified triggers, or a lack of modeled emotional cues. Rapper Jay Z shared, “For a lot of us...we don’t have emotional cues from when we were young.” Relearning emotional cues to better ourselves and our family is a lifelong journey and on the path to a healthier emotional IQ.
Here are 5 basic steps to help you on your journey to bettering communication as a family. These 5 steps will help you stop yelling at the kids. There will be many hiccups along the way, and giving yourself grace while being persistent and consistent with these tips will hopefully have lasting effects.
#1 Have an Open and Honest Conversation
Talk with your kids about yelling, define it for them, share how it makes you feel-when they yell, when your mother yelled, and share how you don’t feel it’s a good option for communication. Ask how it makes them feel when you yell and when they yell, have them include their own ideas about what yelling is and isn’t. Including your family in this discussion will help define the issue an keep it on everyone’s radar.
#2 Put Structure in Place Surrounding Expectations
What are the things you find yourself yelling about? Are they the same things or different every day? Is there a list of rules or expectations somewhere that all family members know and understand? Even if you feel there are, maybe your sons need some more support surrounding understanding what is expected of them. Review and post your simple expectations for behavior somewhere everyone can see them: things like clean your room before dinner, we do not use our hands to communicate our words, etc. Simple and clear directives can make a world of difference and save you from the repeating that leads to yelling.
#3 Put Some Structure in Place Surrounding Communication
Yelling has been a way in which you have communicated for quite some time-you will need to create other ways in which you can communicate with one another. Talk about using I statements, taking deep breaths before sharing or even 10-15 minute breaks in separate spaces. Create this together!
4. Make it a Family Effort
Keep each other accountable-could you make a yelling jar? A code word or signal to let someone know they are yelling or need to take a break? Again include the family in all of your discussions about bettering communication to help keep the kids engaged and you accountable.
#5 Practice Self Care
Our most basic modes of coping are those that were first modeled to us; it will be a journey to break these behaviors. Be kind to yourself. Practice balance and gratitude. Do some soul searching - what are your triggers, what are things that are hard for you to accept from your children and why? Seeking counsel and practicing reflection is the most powerful step on this journey and give yourself props for that!
Katelynn Villari is the Clinical Director of Intown Family Therapy, a private therapy practice in Atlanta GA. Katelynn holds her License in Clinical social work and has experience working with children, adolescents and families in hospital, school and private practice settings.
Intown Family Therapy utilizes a team of experienced therapists who focus on play, movement, and evidenced based practice to fill a variety of needs. All therapists are currently accepting new patients and have tele-health capabilities to help support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you or a loved one is in need of support please reach out to us at 404-919-9975 or email us here.
Thank you so much Katelynn! -Blissful Blue Jays
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