Mummy, when you shout it means you don't love me

avoid shouting Jan 12, 2021

I don’t know about you but I never planned to be the kind of parent that shouted at my children.

I planned to be chilled, calm, patient and kind.

Yet I found that my anger and impatience would boil up like a pressure cooker.

And I’d wind up shouting.

It would usually be after I’d asked the kids what felt like 10 times to do something routine and they’d ignored me.

Or maybe it was in response to incessant whining when they had to so something they didn’t want to do.

Does this sound familiar?

I felt that shouting was my only option - "what choice do I have if they only respond when I shout?"

I was walking along the street one day with Alice, my youngest when she was 3.

We witnessed a little boy banging his bike into his mother who screamed at him ‘Look what you are doing, why are you so clumsy!!!’

It seemed like an over-reaction to me, so I said in passing ‘I think that mum is having a bad day’

Alice stopped and looked up at me ‘No, I think she doesn’t love her little boy’

I caught my breath and said ‘What do you feel when I shout at you?’

Alice said quietly ‘I think it means you don’t love me’

I was so taken aback. I genuinely thought my kids knew that mums and dads shout and they don’t really mean it.

But children don’t always think that way.

And we do NOT need to shout.

Our relationship with our child is THE most important thing and shouting at our kids damages that relationship.

Here are five things to know about the triggers and causes for shouting 

  1. We may well have grown up in a ‘shouty’ household and without realising we repeat the patterns of our upbringing, thinking it is normal.
  2. We fail to observe the pressure building up (see last week’s blog about 'staying sane’) and before we know it the pressure has reached such a point that we shout.
  3. Other life stresses mount up and our children are in the firing-line, these can be stress of work, financial stress, stress in our relationships or simply feeling fed up with life.
  4. We have an expectation of how our children ‘should’ be behaving and when they fail to meet it we feel really frustrated and shout.
  5. We have slipped into the habit of shouting and feel like it is the only way to get children to listen.
  6. We see our own shortcomings in our children and it triggers our anger.
  7. Some of us are temperamentally more prone to shouting to express our feelings than others (this doesn’t mean it can’t change though)

 

The good news is that there are solutions and here are 10 of them

  1. Make a rule for yourself and tell as many people as you can that you want to stop shouting.
  2. Get your children and partner to support you with this – but if you fall off the wagon they need to be compassionate, not critical.
  3. Use a positive reinforcement tick chart or jar with marbles. Every time you stay calm and don’t shout, get the children to reward you.
  4. Play a video in your mind of what you look like and sound like when you shout – it is so unpleasant it can help you to avoid it.
  5. Decide to be a better role-model to your children and use that as an incentive.
  6. Do whatever it takes to reduce your stress – delegate more, take more exercise, get more sleep…
  7. Tell yourself to count to 10 when you feel the pressure mounting and breathe slowly while you do it. You can also walk away,  it is far better to walk away than to shout.
  8. Realise that children have a different agenda and it is understandable that they don't want to get ready for school quickly, or leave their game to come to dinner. 
  9. Clarify your rules and routines with the children and write them down. This helps the kids to know where they stand.
  10. Go over things in advance and ask your kids what is expected so they don’t feel like you are springing things on them. For example if mornings are a stress point, the night before, go over with your kids what you expect them to do in the morning. Also allow more time.

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