I know I called this blog post how to stop yelling at your kids, but if I’m being honest, that isn’t very realistic in my experience as a military mom.
A more realistic title would be: How to yell at your kids a lot less.
It’s not as exciting or catchy as “how to stop yelling at your kids.”
But it is definitely way more realistic.
And it has nothing to do with your kids! Your kids can keep doing all the things that drive you crazy, but you don’t have to yell. Let me explain.
How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids So Much
While yelling at your kids is an action. Learning how to stop yelling at your kids is a mindset shift. Here’s how to do it.
1. Consider Why You’re Yelling at Your Kids
You’re not yelling at your kids for the reasons you think you are. You think you’re yelling at them because they don’t listen, behave poorly, and don’t respect you. You think that’s what’s making you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and angry. But the truth is you’re feeling that way because you’re thinking frustrating, overwhelming, and angry thoughts.
It goes like this: your kids behave a certain way. You think thoughts about the way they’re behaving (typically negative ones), and those negative thoughts create bad feelings. When you feel bad, mad, annoyed, or the like, a natural reaction is to yell.
2. Consider the CTFAR Model
The CTFAR model is a self-coaching tool I use with my military wife life coaching clients. It stands for Circumstances, Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, and Results.
Whatever your kids are doing or not doing, saying or not saying, are the facts. They are the circumstances in front of you. What you think about what they’re doing creates a feeling. Then you take action from that feeling, like yelling at your kids.
So, three things happen before you yell: there’s a circumstance that triggers thoughts, which causes feelings. This is excellent news because it means you have opportunities to make choices that don’t lead to yelling at your kids.
3. Consider the CTFAR Model in Action
Let me share a common occurrence I’ve experienced as a military mom in my household. It goes like this: I ask my kids to do something. They don’t do it. I ask again. They don’t do it. I yell. They finally do it.
During that exchange, here’s what’s going on in my mind:
- I ask my kids to do something, and they don’t do it: Maybe they didn’t hear me. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
- I’m still calm at this point. After all, I wasn’t even in the same room as them when I asked, so there could be a miscommunication.
- I ask them again, and they still don’t do it: I know they heard me this time because I made eye contact with them when asking. This is ridiculous; they’re just being disrespectful.
- Now I’m angry. I’m thinking about how disrespectful my kids are, and it gets me fired up.
- So, I yell, and they finally do what I asked: My kids only listen when I yell.
- My brain builds up evidence that proves my kids don’t do what I want them to do until I raise my voice.
Circumstance: My kids don’t do what I ask them to do.
Thoughts: I think about how disrespectful they are.
Feelings: I feel mad and upset.
Action: I yell.
Result: I’ve yelled at my kids to get them to do what I want, and I don’t feel good about it.
When something like this happens, I challenge myself to consider what might be going on in my kids’ minds:
- Mom asked us to do something, but we’re in the middle of reading a chapter in our books. We’ll do it afterward.
- Mom asked again, but we’re so close to finishing the chapter!
- Now, mom is yelling. Reading is no longer enjoyable, and I should just do what she says so that she’ll stop yelling.
Considering your kid’s experience during this exchange doesn’t necessarily change the circumstance. It does, however, help you remember that they’re kids. Choosing the fun thing over the boring chore makes more sense to them!
4. Consider Your Choices
So, knowing all this, it’s time to consider your choices. Because you always have choices. You never have to yell at your kids. You yell because you’re angry, and you’re angry because of your thoughts. You’re not angry because of your kids. Understanding and accepting this is the first step in getting leverage to choose thoughts that lead to better feelings and less yelling.
It would be amazing if your kids changed their behavior. But if you really consider their line of thinking, it makes sense that they would choose what’s fun. Their brains are only so developed. They’re going to default to the fun thing.
So, you can’t change the circumstances, but your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are in your control. Here’s how to adjust your thoughts and how to stop yelling at your kids so much:
- Understand that your kids will do what their brains tell them to do.
- Accept that you can’t change their behaviors, but you can choose your thoughts about their behaviors.
- Be intentional about communicating with your kids when you need them to do something–be physically close to them, make eye contact, and clearly communicate your expectations and the consequences if they don’t meet them.
- Prepare yourself for them to still not listen.
- Choose thoughts that keep you feeling confident, steady, and calm.
- Respond without yelling and deliver the consequences you warned them might come.
When you slow down, take ownership of your thoughts and actions, and increase your awareness and understanding of your kids’ realities, you realize you don’t have to yell.
Find Military Mom Support through Life Coaching for Military Wives
Learning how to stop yelling at your kids so much is one thing. Actually remembering to slow down and change your thoughts in the moment is something completely different. It takes practice, and you won’t always get it right. I still find myself raising my voice when I slip into old patterns of thinking and parenting. But yelling less–a whole lot less–can definitely be your reality. And if you’re a military mom who would like a bit more one-on-one support in this area, I’d love to work with you on these fundamentals. Reach out today, and we can chat about the best next steps!
Interested in diving into more content on this topic? Check out this Simply Resilient Podcast episode: Summer How-to Series: How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids
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