Even as an adult, Mary Wyatt still remembers the things her mother did that made her raise her voice as a child.
„My mother would yell at me because of my behavior, my grades, or even her own problems,“ says Wyatt, a motivational coach and mother of two children living in Chesterfield, VA.
When Wyatt became a mother, she found herself repeating this same behavior with her son. „Having endured this yelling technique as a child should have been more of a reason for me not to do it,“ she says. When she gave birth to her second child, a daughter, „it was clear that a change was necessary,“ says Wyatt.
It didn’t happen overnight, she says, but she found strategies to break the cycle and avoid yelling. You can too. This is good for your relationship with your child and for both your and your child’s mental health.
The first step is to recognize when you are close to losing your temper.
When you notice these signs, try these quick-acting strategies to change the situation.
Double Sigh. Inhale twice through your nose without exhaling, then sigh through your mouth after the second inhale. Repeat one to three times.
„This is a tool to quickly expel carbon dioxide and increase oxygen levels, which helps calm your nervous system immediately,“ says Hoyt.
Mindfulness Exercise. Notice three things in your immediate environment. What do you see, hear, or smell? Focus on that. This can help ground you in the present moment, reducing anxiety and calming your nerves.
As Wyatt was about to yell, she tried to change her perspective, which allowed her to think about what her daughter was going through instead of simply reacting.
„Be curious, not furious,“ says Ablon. „Ask questions without jumping to conclusions to find out what’s going on with your child. Be a detective.“
„That’s a good mantra when you feel like raising your voice,“ says Ablon. „Just like us parents, our kids are doing their best to cope with things using the skills they have in the moment.“
Remember that sometimes you just need a break. Tell your child that you need a minute for yourself. Go to another room, take a few deep breaths, and come back calmer.
If you find it difficult to stop yelling at your kids, consider taking a parenting course. If working on these changes brings up difficult memories from your own childhood, you may want to speak with a therapist. You may learn new skills that will lead to success for both of you.