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  • Stop Yelling At Your Child With These 3 Steps (You Model Good Behavior, Too)

    How do you prevent yourself from exploding with anger?
    by Thumby Server-Veloso .
Stop Yelling At Your Child With These 3 Steps (You Model Good Behavior, Too)
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  • It’s late at night, the TV is on, but I don’t even know what is showing. Everyone is asleep except for me. I am just wallowing in guilt. I know my husband is worried about a million things. So am I.

    I know my children are feeling our anxiety, but they soldier on with their usual antics. It’s exasperating having to be the referee, tutor, cook, cleaner, mother, and more. I feel terrible for spending the last few minutes of today screaming at them. Not just telling them things about what they should and should not do, but also saying hurtful things that I don’t really mean.

    I heard them crying before bed and their dad shushing them to sleep. And now that everyone is dreaming away, I am wide awake, riddled with guilt.

    This could be you or me. It could be any of us. Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed? Who hasn’t yelled at their children when they were misbehaving? Who hasn’t felt so angry or frustrated they had to scream? Who hasn’t shouted out things they immediately regretted?

    We can give ourselves a “pass” and say, “Everyone does it.” But that does not really help the situation. Some parents might even tell themselves, “Better to shout than to spank.”

    The most common reason for parents to yell is anger, which often has built up from feeling that we are not being listened to or respected. But parents often also shout when they feel overwhelmed or are stressed. Their patience has been worn thin by misbehavior, even though it may not be intentional or that bad.

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    Feeling embarrassed also causes parents to “lose it.” For example, when children hurt others or throw tantrums in public or in the company of others, parents feel it is a reflection on their parenting and instinctively try to compensate by raising their voices.

    How to stop being a yelling mom

    When you shout at your young children, the first thing you notice is their fear. How they stop what it is they are doing, some will even cry. And while you think it’s a quick and effective way to get them to do your will, once they grow older and become desensitized to the sound of your yelling, you will find it harder to keep using this technique. They will eventually learn to tune you out, no matter how loud you get.

    Some parents don’t realize that it’s a form of emotional abuse when they pepper their yelling with insults, bad words, and threats. The effects can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, or even aggression in kids.

    Growing up, how would you feel being constantly yelled at with, “Kung hindi ka titigil, sasampalin na kita” or “Huwag kang tatanga-tanga!”

    Here are some things we can do to avoid yelling.

    Take care of yourself

    If you are like me, it’s when you are puyat or gutom that you quickly lose your temper. So make sure you sleep well, eat right, and do some form of physical activity or exercise.

    Also, allow yourself little treats or breaks when you can just enjoy time either on your own or chat with friends. Feeling good about yourself will lessen the chances of getting easily frustrated.

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    Explore your yelling triggers

    Do a self-examination and find out when it is you often lose control. For example, is it when everyone needs to get ready for work and school at the start of the day? Or at the end of the day when you’re all tired? Or is it in the middle of the day when you are working and just about ready to turn in your report?

    What do you usually shout about? And what actions can you do instead? For example, if you are screaming because children aren’t waking up for school on time, then alarm clocks, shutting off the aircon earlier, or playing music might work. One of my students said her mom sends the dog in to wake her up in the morning.

    Move closer to your child

    You’re thinking, “Huh?” Sometimes the reason children, especially young ones, do not respond to our requests is because they don’t hear or understand what we want. Moving closer, crouching down to their level, so that you are face to face with them, and talking clearly and calmly can be very effective. It sure beats shouting from across the room to the back of a preoccupied child.

    Nurture teamwork

    Talk to your family about how you want to try not to yell so much. Say how it makes you feel. Ask them to share how shouting makes them feel, too. Then get everyone on board to help “keep the peace.”

    The most enormous help is your spouse. Take cues from each other. When you see your hubby is losing his cool, you can “tap in” and vice versa.

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    Try these scripts when you know they can develop into a yelling episode.

    “O, Daddy is getting mad. Come on, stop fighting over that toy. Let’s put it away until you are ready to share.”

    “Mommy is tired already, why don’t we go to bed and I’ll read a short story.” It does wonders, not just for the kiddos but also for the marriage.

    How to model behavior

    When you model behavior for your children, you make a conscious effort to show them what you want them to copy. Part of what you want them to see is it’s not always easy to be in control and that it takes effort. But, you also want them to learn that they are part of the solution.

    Try these three steps to avoid yelling and model behavior. 

    “Naiinis na ako…” or “I’m starting to get mad…” are your warning signs to them.

    Then, follow it with an act that shows how you are trying to control your anger: “Iinom muna ako ng tubig,” or “I’m going to take deep breaths.”

    Then round it up with: “Tulungan mo naman ako, anak...” or “You can help me…” Then let them know what you need them to do.

    Look at these samples of yelling and modeling

    Yelling: Pagod na pagod na ako! Away pa rin kayo nang away! Ang titigas ng mga ulo niyo! Ayoko na!

    Modeling: Naiinis na ako. Bibilang muna ako -- 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Sana hindi na kayo magaway para makapag-family movie night na tayo.

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    Yelling: I am so fed up with this! All you do is fight. You are both so stubborn and annoying. I am sick of this!

    Modeling: I am starting to lose my temper, so I’m going to breathe. When I feel better, you can help me by being quiet for a bit and staying on separate sides of the room. Understood?

    In the Philippines, shouting or yelling at children seems to be a natural course of parenting. It’s depicted in our komiks, teleseryes, movies, and even memories passed down from generation to generation.

    While it may seem like a “normal” way to parent, it doesn’t take away from the fact that when we do it, we feel terrible after. And if something you do makes you and your children feel bad, then it’s only sensible to try something else.

    Barbara Server-Veloso is known as Teacher Thumby at her preschool, Toddlers Unlimited, and Ms. Thumby at her grade school, Thinkers Unlimited, Alabang. She is also a partner in Spark Discovery Center, where she teaches the Baby and Me Class. Teacher Thumby has a Master’s degree from the University of the Philippines in Family Life and Child Development. She has been teaching since 1993. She is also the mother of Lucas and Verena.

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