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Control Your Behavior

Do you expect your children to control their behavior when you have a hard time controlling yours? Ouch! It’s true though…sometimes we expect so much from our children. We become upset when they have tantrums or talk to us with disrespect, yet we’re not always respectful in our communication. What if we got our phones taken away every time we yelled at our kids? When we yell, kids go into fight, flight or freeze mode and stop learning whatever we are trying to teach them.

Yelling causes children to resent us and children rarely trust and listen to people, they resent.

Yelling trains kids not to listen to us until we raise our voice. What’s more, is it teaches them to yell at us! Most of us know this. We know yelling is not effective, at least not in the long-term. We know yelling damages our relationship with our kids and scares them. Most of us don’t want to yell and usually feel pretty guilty afterwards. So…how do we stop?

One strategy is to create your own special time out area (yes, us parents need timeouts too!) and let your children know when you need to use it. This provides a great example for our children. “Mommy, is feeling upset right now. I need to go take a break in my room. When I am calm I will return.” Sometimes, we don’t feel we’re able to step away, maybe our children are too young. In this case, try taking deep breaths or counting to 10. We’ve all heard this, right…but, why is it so hard? In between feeling upset, angry or irritated and either, reacting or responding to our children, is a space. At first, it may seem that there is no space at-all. We get triggered and next thing you know we’re flying off the handle. But, the more we practice our strategies the bigger this space gets.

One strategy I use is, Name It to Tame It. When you start feeling yourself being flipped, notice what is going on in your body. “I feel my jaw clenching. My face is getting hot. My shoulders are tight.” Then name it. “I’m feeling very irritated or frustrated right now.” Just taking this moment to notice how it feels in your body and name what your feeling starts to tame it. Your emotions will tame just enough to take some deep breaths or count to 10. This is how you enlarge the space. Once you’ve calmed down you’re able to respond effectively, accessing the tools you’ve learned, instead of merely reacting and yelling at your children.

What I realized really helped me to decrease my yelling and start using the tools I was learning in Positive Discipline was to invest in self-care. For me that meant saying no to things that didn’t serve me. I had a bad habit of taking way too much on, trying to be everything to everyone. This lead to overwhelm which lead to resentment. Once I accepted that I didn’t need to be superwoman to be a person of value, the overwhelm subsided and so did the yelling. Yoga is another form of self-care that really helped me. The more I practiced yoga the more I was able to center myself. Also, practicing mindfulness really helps with enlarging the space between feeling upset and responding intentionally.

Some people might think mindfulness is not accessible to them. “My thoughts are always racing, I can’t clear my mind.” But, mindfulness practices can be really simple and the more you practice the easier it gets.

One practice I like is noticing with your five senses. Notice one thing you see, one thing you hear, one thing you smell, one thing you taste and one thing you are touching.

Lastly, when you do yell, because we all lose it occasionally, apologize. Children are so forgiving when we take time to sincerely apologize when we lose control. After we’re all calm and we have apologized then were ready to brainstorm solutions together. Remember, example is the best teacher.

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