Two weeks ago, I found myself in a place of fury.
My daughter was in a phase of meanness.
Mean doesn’t work for me.
Mistakes, yes, but mean takes a lot of patience to deal with peacefully, especially when a child does not see the error in her ways or take responsibility.
But yelling isn’t the answer.
And starting a yelling habit that continues isn’t the answer either.
My girl and I have been around and around on just about every topic. She is a smart, witty child who really doesn’t tolerate much. I really love that about her — while also pulling my hair out most days.
Instead of yelling, though, I have found that what works best is patience and love.
I just have to remember that when a tough moment pops up.
In the heat of the moment, you want to act. You want to solve the problem right NOW. If you wait, it will be too late, right? That feeling of urgency, though, is when you’re most likely to yell at your children.
But that sense of urgency is actually sending us into a vicious cycle of more yelling and not actually solving the problem.
The very last thing we should be doing is rushing to make a point.
When we remain calm, rational and peaceful, we are more consistent and effective, which is what our children need more than anything.
So by waiting to respond and by taking a great big peaceful pause we are actually showing our children what it means to think first before acting (or speaking).
So, out of frustration with not knowing how to better handle these difficult conversations with my daughter, I came up with a list of questions to ask myself BEFORE I act on any situation or respond in any heated moment. What happened, I learned quickly, is that my non-reaction diffused the situation almost immediately compared to my quick on-it-like-lightning approach. Turns out, time and space to a big problem makes it a little problem.
I’m sharing the questions I ask myself with you.
These questions can help you take a time out to think before you yell at your children just to make a very loud point that you’re upset with their actions.
Recite these questions in you head right there in the moment — before you yell at your children. These questions might help you be that peaceful family you want to be. Get your pen and paper ready.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Yell At Your Children:
What is most important right now?
This question is by far my go-to question for just about everything but in a challenging moment with kids it almost always grounds me and centers me to make a more rational decision. Ask yourself what your family needs most right now.
Is this really a big deal?
Ouch. This question hurts, right? Because when we stop to really think about some of the infractions that happen in the grande scheme of life … they really are pretty small and inconsequential. This question helps put it all into perspective. Usually, the act itself is not at all the big deal but the fear we hold about it is definitely a big deal — and also totally fabricated in our minds. Ask yourself if this will matter in a week or a month.
Can they work this out on their own?
So often the conflicts in a home are around the dynamics between two or more children who are mid-squabble. At our house there are about 3.5 arguments a day. Asking this question before jumping to conclusions has helped leave the mom referee hat off for a while. Even if it’s not a sibling fight, a child is often more capable of working out their own conflicts on their own, with love and patience rather than being forced. Ask yourself how your role would benefit the situation, if at all.
What do I want my child to do differently?
As soon as I started stressing the positive actions I wanted my daughter to demonstrate, she responded with more interest than she had to any punishment. Turns out, she just needed to know what was the right thing to do. It can be confusing to be a child with so many rules and expectations. Sometimes we just have to say what we need to happen differently and wait for them to do it. Ask yourself what actions do I want my child to take to avoid this in the future.
How can I make this situation right?
I write so much about choosing kindness because I have witnessed so much unkind parenting in my life. And this question really takes you to the heart of the matter. When we put ourselves in our child’s position — no matter their age — we step into life as they see it. That’s when we begin the problem-solving role of healer and nurturer rather than the commander-in-chief. Ask yourself what can I do to bring a peaceful resolution to this problem.
Discuss: Have you ever thought about asking yourself questions before yelling? What questions would you add to this list?