We’re only human. Sometimes we become frustrated and overwhelmed with the pressures of modern living. Perhaps we work, have financial struggles, suffer with ill health or are struggling with personal relationships – there are many, many reasons why a parent may feel stressed and lash out on a bad day. Reaching out to our children on these occasions, showing them our humility through explaining our situation and apologising, is actually beneficial to the emotional development of children. It is important for them to see us being real and human in order for them to accept these same flaws in themselves and reaching out to them helps to teach them about healthy ways to deal with these emotions.
But, what if you’re shouting at your children on a daily basis?
The effects of shouting on children are many and varied. The most important of which surrounds the egocentric nature of the child – when we are angry with them and shout, they naturally assume that they are responsible for the negative emotions in their parents. Young children, in particular, have a difficult time understanding the bigger picture (i.e. stress at work). Shouting is often accompanied by unintended aggressive body language. The overall effects include an increased risk of anxiety disorders in the child alongside other emotional issues, behavioural problems and even developmental delays.
The good news is, we can take steps to reduce our shouting.
What can we do about it?
The most important place to start is by looking at why we react angrily. Perhaps we are stressed a lot, or even fearful of what other people are thinking of how successful we are at parenting our children? Whatever the cause, confronting our problems is the first step in finding the most effective strategies for coping with them and redirecting the stress away from our loved ones.
Deciding to be more mindful is essential in reducing shouting. When we decide to be more aware of ourselves and our interactions, we have greater control over our choices and emotions. From there, we can take some simple steps to reducing shouting until it is no longer a part of our everyday lives:
FIND YOUR TRIGGERS What annoys you most? When are you most likely to be annoyed? If you’re more likely to become annoyed around bedtime, try to take a little time for yourself before you begin. If this isn’t possible, add an activity to your evening routine that everyone enjoys. A little mental break can go a long way in tackling stress.
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS It can be difficult to relax and go with the flow but will the world really come to an end if you leave the dishes and just cuddle on the sofa a little while longer? Are you expecting too much of your children for their age maybe? Relax more and learn about what is developmentally appropriate for your children.
PICK YOUR BATTLES The more you fight, the more fights you create. Save your serious face for things that really matter and you will likely find your children are more responsive when you need them to be. The rest you can talk about with them, they take in more than you realise.
HAVE FUN So, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds but stick with us… what if you just decide to be more fun? Invite yourself, your inner child, to play with your own children. What did you like to do? Inspire them and share a bit of your soul with them in the process. We promise, it’s cathartic.
CHANGE HOW YOU TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN If you aim to be persuasive, then shouting isn’t the way. Not only is it harmful and authoritarian, it is also ineffective and breeds children who shout back. Children respond better to positive suggestions and ideas. You catch more flies with honey.
Shouting less is a journey, as one mother has blogged about (http://theorangerhino.com/), and it can be very personal with emotional issues to contend with along the way. But, it is a decision that will change almost every area of your life for the better as you watch yourself becoming a happier, more loving parent and a generally more positive person.