We’ve all been there, coming home from a stressful day at work to screaming kids throwing tantrums.
You either let your frustration get the best of you and yell at them (only to make the situation worse) or you give in to whatever they want just to get some peace and quiet.
Using effective discipline techniques can be extremely difficult, but it benefits our kids in the long run.
It takes tremendous patience, a solid game plan, and follow-through, but hey, nobody said parenting would be easy!
Here are my top tips for teaching discipline without yelling:
1. Stay calm
Reasoning with or yelling at a kid mid-tantrum is completely pointless. They are not thinking clearly, and if you get upset and start yelling, it only adds fuel to the fire. Staying calm (but firm) helps them to calm down themselves and the tantrum will be over much quicker.
Also, there are times they act out just to get a reaction from you. If you react, it’s reinforcing that behavior and teaching them it’s okay to act that way towards you and others. It’s important to stay firm and not give in but do so in a calm manner. Teaching them to take slow deep breaths can help a lot too.
Once they calm down, you will be able to talk to them and try to understand what upset them. 99% of tantrums are caused by acting out of frustration, usually, because they are feeling like their wants or needs are not being heard. Calmly talking to them about it allows them to feel understood and validated.
You will also be able to explain to them why acting that way is not appropriate and teach them a better way to communicate their needs. They will be much more responsive this way.
2. Consistency is key
Kids need structure. Kids WANT structure. They will test the boundaries to see what they can get away with, what is okay and what is not okay. Staying consistent is the most critical component to developing structure. If they do something and sometimes it’s okay and sometimes is not okay, it’s extremely confusing to them.
If you stay 100% consistent with what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, they will learn quickly. Being wishy-washy or not sticking to your guns will completely undo any structure you have created. This can be extremely difficult, but it will make your life so much easier in the long run. More importantly, it will benefit your child tremendously.
Avoid making empty threats as well. Empty threats are detrimental to the structure you are building. If you tell them that you’re taking away a toy unless they clean up their room, stick to it! If they resist cleaning their room but still want to play with their toy and they throw a tantrum, do NOT give in!
Stick to your guns, because giving them their toy at that point is teaching them that they don’t have to listen to you when you ask them to do something, and if they scream loud enough they will get what they want. I call this worst-case scenario in Mom world.
It is also incredibly important to have a united front between parents. If one says no and the other says yes, watch out. You have just created a manipulating monster and they WILL be difficult to handle.
3. Timeouts with a parent
Sometimes, kids get so worked up that they need a reset. Remove them from the situation and do not give them the attention they are seeking until they calm down. I don’t believe in locking a kid in their room alone, because I don’t want them to associate being alone as a negative thing.
Being happy and content on your own is a very positive and empowering thing, and I believe timeouts alone counteract that. Also, when kids are that upset, they have been known to throw themselves on the floor, hit themselves, bang their heads against the wall, etc. which can be very dangerous, especially if left alone.
When kids are hysterical, they need you to be there for them and let them know they have your love and support. Removing them from the situation and not giving them the attention they want is showing them that their behavior is unacceptable, but sitting there (quietly) with them lets them know that you are there for them.
As I mentioned earlier, once they calm down you can talk to them about why that behavior is not acceptable and teach them how to communicate their needs better.
While they are still upset, I like to grab a book and just start quietly reading it out loud. This allows me to stay calm, not react to the craziness of their tantrum, and provide a calming distraction. It typically takes no longer than a few minutes for the tantrum to be over.
4. Avoid humiliation
Public humiliation is one of my biggest pet peeves. Obvious humiliation is just wrong, but even disciplining your child in front of others can be extremely humiliating. Humiliation will cause insecurities and resentment in your child. This is not only heartbreaking but can cause them to act out as well.
I know it can be embarrassing if your kid is not acting right in public, and we don’t want anyone thinking we are not in control, so we yell at them to stop or berate them for whatever it is they’re doing wrong. Instead, calmly remove your child from the situation and go talk to them in private.
This goes for family members and siblings too. Disciplining your child in front of their siblings is just as humiliating, so take them into another room to talk it out in private at home as well. They will respond much better.
5. NO VIOLENCE
This one is obviously a very controversial topic, so I will just give my personal opinion and beliefs on this. I believe that using violence (yes, I consider spanking violence) is completely unnecessary.
I understand that people think the generations are getting softer, brattier, and more entitled, and I completely agree. However, I can pretty much guarantee that it isn’t a result of not hitting our children.
I can also guarantee that hitting your kids will not change that behavior in the slightest. I believe that structure, proper discipline, teaching them good morals, leading by example, and educating them is all it takes.
Yes, it’s easier to slap them around and instill fear, but I think that is pretty pathetic if you ask me.
We are the ones they look to for comfort and safety. Teaching them to love and trust in the very people who are hurting them is not only confusing and harmful to their understanding of love, but it also teaches them to resolve conflict with violence.
However, I do not believe in letting kids run the house, do whatever they want, and grow up unable to handle any sort of difficulties. It is our duty to raise a decent human being and prepare them for the harsh realities of the world. I just don’t believe violence is necessary to do so.
6. Praise Positive Behavior
Kids aim to please. They want to make you proud and see you excited and impressed with them. Give them that satisfaction when they do something positive! It will encourage them to keep doing it.
It’s like when they do something funny and everyone laughs, so they keep doing it over and over to get that same reaction.
Use this to your advantage, and praise them for all of the good things they do, they will keep doing them over and over as well!
When they’re young and just learning the ropes I like to praise EVERYTHING positive they are doing. “Thank you for being so kind!” “Thank you for listening!” “Good job picking up your toys, that is so helpful!” etc, etc.
I also like to end the day with some positive words and thank them for being so good that day, or if they weren’t, praise them for the way they corrected their bad behavior or find some way to end the day on a positive note.
7. Lead by example
We all know kids are sponges. They will repeat everything you say or do, and that goes for behaviors as well. If you are constantly reiterating that eating anywhere besides the kitchen table is unacceptable, but you are doing so yourself, you’re going to confuse them.
Your structure and discipline techniques will be much less effective because the message is not consistent.
Treating others with respect is also something they learn from you. The way you treat your significant other, your friends, other family members, even your pets, they are picking up on all of it.
Be sure you’re setting a good example that is consistent with the behaviors you are asking them to follow.
Parenting can be stressful and exhausting! Always make sure you get time for yourself to make sure you are happy and healthy as well!