How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids

Many of today's parents refrain from hitting as a form of discipline, but there is still something many of us do that can be just as bad - yelling! Mighty Mommy has 6 tips to help you become a more peaceful parent.


Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #259

When you compare 21st century parents to our predecessors, we tend toward a kinder, gentler type of parenting style - especially when it comes to discipline. But even if hitting isn't necessarily the dominant form of punishment anymore, there is still something many of us do, sometimes on a daily basis, that can be just as bad: yelling.

According to a new study published in the journal of Child Development, yelling — defined as shouting, cursing, or insult-hurling — may be “just as detrimental” as physical punishment to the long-term well-being of adolescents.   Even in otherwise loving homes, yelling, cursing or insults can have many of the same effects as hitting and can lead to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem in kids.

That's why today, Mighty Mommy has 6 tips that can help you stop and think before you lash out at your kids, and become a more peaceful parent.


Tip #1: Parent as Though Someone Is Always Watching

Several years ago I was making dinner and asked my son to put the dog out so I could pull the ribs out of the oven without him jumping all over me.  My son dutifully complied, but left the door open, so the moment those ribs came onto the counter, the dog flew back and grabbed them.  It was an honest mistake, but I was furious and screamed at my son and everyone else in the house. 

My yelling was bad enough, but what I didn’t realize was that a neighbor had been standing at her front door the entire time.  I was mortified.  From that night on I decided I would try to never embarrass my kids or myself like that again. So I began reminding myself to parent like someone was always watching. This forces me stop, take a breath, and then deliver my message without sounding like a crazy person.

Tip #2: Help Your Children Explain Their Feelings

Before you lose your cool because your child has misbehaved, figure out what is causing the behavior.

One of the biggest reasons toddlers and younger children misbehave is they simply haven't learned an alternative approach to displaying their feelings.  As parents we need to teach our children how to express themselves by validating their feelings without validating their behavior. 

For instance, the next time your daughter tries to hit her friend for stepping on her sandcastle at the beach, don’t yell “No hitting!”  Instead, walk over to your daughter and explain why hitting is bad. "Annie, I understand you are mad that your friend knocked over sandcastle. It's okay to be mad, but when you are mad you tell your friend 'I'm mad that you ruined my castle.' You don't ever hit."

It will take a lot more effort on your part, but it will be worthwhile.

Tip #3: Try the Big Squeeze

Squeezable stress toys, such as balls and other geometric forms, are designed to keep business executives from blowing their stacks. There's no reason why they can't work for moms, too! 

My sister is a physical therapist and she recommended that I try them - and they work!  I even keep a squeeze ball in my car.  After I have given it a few good squeezes, it immediately helps me calm down and refocus before I let my lungs do the talking.  

See also: 8 Ways to Lighten Your Parenting Load


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!