Posted ByKimberly Demucha Kalil
Here are some ways to end yelling and get started down a more positive path with your kids.
Are you tired of constantly yelling at your kids? Have you been vowing to use more positive discipline in your household, but don't know where to start? Parenting "positive is about helping our kids learn what to do rather than what not to do," says Andy Smithson, a social worker and developer of the TRU Parenting program. "It's about helping them solve problems rather than punishing them for having problems."
Here are nine tips to help you as you transform your parenting style and implement positive discipline in your home:
- Control Your Temper
Disciplining your child in anger rarely has a positive outcome. "It doesn't take a child long to focus on the anger and not the mistake they've made," says Jim Fay, a founder of the Love and Logic parenting approach. "We need to train parents to react to their kids differently." Learning to manage your emotions and reactions is the most important skill for effective positive discipline, Smithson adds. "Learn to be aware, to be able to sit with your emotional reactions and then to make positive, kind and empathetic responses."
Still feeling angry? Try to calm yourself down by focusing on your breathing. "You have a tool that's always with you, and can help you at any time and in any place -- your breath," says Smithson. Deep, concentrated breathing can release tension and relax your body, which will prepare you to better deal with your child.
- Buy Yourself Time
If you can't work through your child's bad behavior without losing your cool, put yourself in time-out. "Let them know you'll be addressing their bad decisions," Fay says, but walk away and give yourself some time to decide how you'll respond.
- Don't Negotiate
You're the boss. If you let your child argue his point and negotiate ("I should be able to stay up longer because ..."), suddenly they're in charge. "Don't negotiate," Fay says. Repeat your point gently and walk away.
- Be Consistent
Say what you mean and mean what you say. "Turn yes to yes and no to no," Fay says. "That's security for a kid. Then the parent is running the house and not the other way around."
- Have a Prepared Response
Sometimes the hardest part of dealing with a naughty child is not knowing what to say. Fay suggests you come up with a standard, emphatic response you can use in every situation. "Learn to use empathic responses so you can discipline without losing their love and respect," he says. This lets them know you have love and empathy for them, even if you're not happy with their behavior. You can say something like "Ah man! What? That's really awful."
- Set Limits With Thinking Words, Not Fighting Words
Thinking words are enforceable, whereas fighting words aren't, Fay says. If your child isn't cleaning his room, you might say, "Let me know when you're done cleaning your room and then I can take you to soccer." Don't threaten not to take you child to soccer, but set a clear limit to the situation and explain how the "conflict" could be resolved. If you yell something like, "I'm not taking you to soccer until you clean your room," then your child is more focused on your anger and not thinking about what he needs to do to fix his behavior.
- Start Slow
Master one new technique at time instead of trying to change everything about your discipline strategies at once. "Don't try to do a total overhaul at one time," Fay says. It's highly likely you'll get overwhelmed and discouraged if you try to make too many changes too fast. Set yourself up for success by picking one skill to master before you add another new technique.
- It's Never Too Late
Maybe you've been muddling through this parenthood gig many years with tons of frustration. It's OK. You can decide to make a change no matter how old your children are. If you are willing to experiment with different techniques and see what works, you won't fail, Fay says.
Kimberly DeMucha Kalil is a freelance journalist and software consultant living in Southern Arizona with her husband and two children. Most days you can find her on Twitter talking about how wonderful her children are.