Shouting, I hate myself after I’ve done it. And it’s something I hoped I’d not find myself doing as a parent. I love my daughter and I want to parent her respectfully. But it is the case that sometimes things do get stressful.
99% of the time things are fine, mostly pretty chilled and plenty of laughter. But kids can cause a lot of parental stress and sometimes it’s hard to keep your cool.
Maybe you are in the same boat, here’s what we are going to try.
1) Apologise to your child after shouting
It’s always best to model the behaviour we want from our children. So if you would expect your child to apologise after doing something wrong, do the same. No one can be perfect all the time, in fact you would be modelling a weirdly unnatural behaviour pattern yourself if you never got a bit cross.
2) Have a heart to heart after the anger has passed.
Try talking to your child about what just happened. Apologise first obviously. And don’t let any attempt to talk to your child about your reaction be about blaming them or making excuses for yourself.
Instead a discussion along the lines of: sorry I was naughty and shouted. I find it really hard when you don’t listen to me. How could we do that better next time? A conversation like that held in an age appropriate manner could throw up some surprising results.
3) Think about the circumstances that cause you to start shouting.
Is it every time they dawdle when you are already late? Is it every mealtime when you prepare a dinner you know they love and they won’t eat it? In our house it is stalling at bedtime, and messing around instead of getting ready for school.
Is there anything you could change up in this situation to try to cut back on the stress? Can you re-jig your routine or the physical circumstances in any way?
4) Look at your own internal triggers.
In addition to the surface issues such as, he drives me mad because he won’t listen, or, she always refuses to co-operate when I clean her teeth, what else is driving your anger?
Is it an unrealistic expectation of perfection? Or, the culmination of a day of people not listening to you at work then you get home and your child doesn’t listen to you either? Or are you overtired and needing respite and self-care? Is your time management always faulty and it makes you feel inadequate? And finally are your expectations of your child’s behaviour realistic for their developmental stage?
So our major flash points are Little Monkey refusing to get ready for bed. And her racing around like a nutter when I’m trying to get her ready for school.
At bedtime my internal triggers for my shouting is
desperation keenness for wine time / time alone with husband to begin, and a horror of being ignored and my perfectionism. Monkey knows I won’t actually refuse to read her a story so my threats are hot air. She knows I will always insist on cleaning her teeth so she is able to mess around then in particular with all the attention and no negative consequences.
Changing the routine so there are consequences to actions could help. We are going to try putting pyjamas on before last TV programme, with no TV programme if she messes around. Toilet before going upstairs just to alter the routine a bit. And counting to 15 slowly whilst I clean her teeth then she can have a turn second if she’s behaved. Therefore 2 consequences are built in, no TV and no turn at tooth brushing. If all else fails quietly give time out, then rinse and repeat!
When I’m trying to get her ready for school my internal triggers for my shouting is fear of being late for school, and again a horror of being ignored and my perfectionism. When Little Monkey is doing circuits of the living room laughing like a hyena and I’m chasing her to put her shoes on she needs me to organise our routine better instead of the fun turning to shouting as I loose my rag.
I realise she gets completely over excited about going to see her friends. If she is fully ready with 1/2 an hour to spare she can have some quiet playtime without me putting us both under pressure. The over stimulation of getting ready at the same time as looking forward to seeing her friends will stop.
So that’s the plan for my parenting without shouting project. What causes shouting in your household? Could you find a different solution?
For more on parenting a pre-schooler see this post on parenting a threenager…