What to do when your kids yell: a positive action plan.
A five-year-old’s fist slams against the table, followed by furious stomping out of the room and angry shouting. My daughter is throwing a huge tantrum- all because I asked her to hand me the doll she was playing with at the dinner table.
We have scenes like this off-and-on at our house, sometimes multiple times a day. These stages with a particular child last for a short time, (thank goodness!) and then circle back around again (bummer). What’s a mom to do? Scream back? Tell her calmly to go to her room?… I feel SO fortunate to be equipped with so many great tools to be able to make the best of the situation. Many of my favorite parenting tools I’ll mention today come from Amy McCready’s Positive Parenting Solutions program.
Today I’ll share the best techniques to handle “mean voices” that we’ve tested and have worked well for our family.
Research shows that aggression comes out in young children because they don’t know how to handle their frustration. They need our help. He or she may need a moment or two by themselves to calm down, but a prolonged session in their room, could be counter-effective. So, instead of ignoring the behavior we as the parent need to step in by modeling good behavior.
Here’s the action-plan we took in our family:
First, we did some training. We like to have a weekly family meeting; so one Monday night, we used this meeting as a time to discuss this mean tone our kids have used in our home. *I created an outline for the family meeting to help you if you’re struggling with mean-voices at your house too! (Click here: the lesson outline printables will be sent to you pronto!)*
Our family meeting/training went well- perhaps a little rushed before bedtime- but we talked about WHY it’s important to use a nice voice in our home. Then- we revealed what our consequence for using a mean voice would be: If anyone uses a mean voice, they will repeat these “nice voice sentences” three times. (I like to think of them as affirmations). They need to say them in a nice, calm voice before they can do anything else.
These are the sentences:
I’m sorry I used a mean voice.
I love everyone and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
I will try my best to be nice and use my nice voice.
(repeat 3 times)
… Will you forgive me?*
*ask this only on the last time
At first my husband felt the kids saying those affirmations would not be helpful. Pretty sure the kids are not thinking they “love everyone” in that moment!!! But that’s the whole point! My kids have expressed that they do love everyone and they really don’t want to hurt others. We are using these sentences to remind them of an internal truth: I want to be respectful. As the days and weeks went by of using this “reminder tactic”/ consequence, we were so happy that the level of yelling went down a ton! My kids were talking in nice, respectful tones to one another and it makes my heart happy. It softens the mood in our home immensely and sets the kids up for success.
Why this method is effective:
- My children were trained on the subject.
- The bad behavior was addressed immediately.
- The consequence we use fit the four R’s for effective consequences. You can learn more about the 4 R’s here.
- We (the parents) are modeling the nice voice, and encouraging the kids to practice using the nice voice too! As the kids practice using a nice voice, the mood and tone changes immediately. And practice makes perfect. 🙂
As I was preparing to publish this post, life threw a curve-ball and my six-year-old had more episodes of yelling! It had been five to six months since we did the initial family training and I asked her to put her shoes away (again). She gave me the growl face, stomped, and screamed that she was going to bite me. Nice… These episodes would last for a minute or two, then I would have her say the “sentences”, she calmed down then we talked about the episode. After a few days of regular tantrums, I could tell something was not right with my daughter ! That’s when we needed to explore the deeper issue.
I talked with friends in the Positive Parenting Solution Program and I was reminded that our children often act out because they are lacking in feeling that they belong and that they are significant. Light bulb! I should’ve known. That’s a huge part of what the Positive Parenting Solutions program is all about! I needed this reminder from other moms that were going through the same thing.
Action plan, Round two:
So, we did a second training! (Both family training outlines will be emailed to you by pressing here.) This time we talked about how ALL feelings are okay. It’s okay to feel scared, excited, angry, or hurt. We delved into the purpose of feelings, and this really helped my kids be more aware of their emotions. We discussed that when a feeling isn’t helpful, we can take action to change it! Immediately, I could see that my four and six year old were both benefiting by understanding their emotions more.
In addition to the training, I also have made a more concentrated effort to let my daughter be heard and tried to understand her more. I also have looked for opportunities to praise my kids for being responsible and kind. A friend recommended explaining to your kids (in a calm, happy moment) that when they are yelling, that your response is going to be to walk away until they are calm. They will know that Mom isn’t going to feed their power struggle when they are yelling. Parenting is always a work-in-progress, so next time we need to address this issue, I will use the walking away too. As always, I’ve gotta remember to prioritize daily “special time” with that child. Research shows that when a child feels belonging and significance, they behave better!
Some other ideas to explore if you are still having trouble:
- Are they getting enough sleep?
- Do they feel comfortable at school?
- Is their diet feeding them with nutrients and hydration they need to function well?
- Is there a relationship with a friend or family member that is upsetting them?
- Do they need a more consistent routine they can count on?
- Do they need more one-on-one attention from parents/loved-ones? (I mentioned this already, but its worth repeating!)
I hope this helps your family as much as it has mine! If you would like to watch the free webinar for Amy McCready’s parenting system click here to learn about many more of her life-changing tools. We are so glad we used her program!!!
If you think “nice voice” training would be a good idea for your family: click here to get a free copy of the outlines we used. Simple, and easy! Plus, it comes with a cute printable of the “nice sentences”! I know I haven’t heard the last of the harsh tones in our home, but this helps as much as anything! What works for your family? Please share with us what has worked for you!