Parenting is hard. Disciplining your child is even harder. Get out of the rut and learn how to discipline without yelling. Don’t know what rut I’m talking about? Does this sound familiar?
Telling your child no to the same thing 40 times in 15 minutes. All of a sudden you’re yelling at your 1 year old (who has zero concept of what you are saying or why). The guilt sets in. You don’t want to yell and know you shouldn’t have. You’re apologizing to a child who still has no clue what’s going on. Maybe they are even crying from your outburst. Little one settles down laughs with you. He goes to play. Straight to the same thing again. It hasn’t even been 5 minutes.
Most parents will tell you that this happens. But most parents also wish they could change it. Learn to discipline without yelling early, so that you can be used to it by the time your child is able to benefit from it.
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What Goes Into Discipline Without Yelling?
This is one of those times that you have to turn the attention you put into parenting around on yourself rather than your child. You have to teach yourself what to do and say. So that you can be effective as possible for your child. And spare your child the shame and stress of always being yelled at. You’ll also spare yourself the guilt of doing nothing but yell at your child.
This can work with a child any age. But the earlier you start the more effective it will be. It takes time for you to get used to handling it this way so starting when you child is young and may not yet benefit, is actually very productive.
Make the change in your behavior first so that your entire family will be happier.
Calm Your Child Down
Children experience all the same emotions as adults do. The difference is they have no idea what is happening or how to deal with it. Every emotion is overwhelming to your toddler if it is strong enough.
Ever notice how anger, excitement, exhaustion, all end in the same way for your child? Usually with screaming and tears? It’s because they don’t know what to do to let out any of their emotions.
You need to help your child learn to calm down before any kind of discipline will be effective.
It is best to remove them from the situation. Comfort them. Get them to be able to hear you again before doing anything else. Build an action plan that you will use each time your child gets upset and reacts poorly. Consistency is key.
Starting to teach your child how to calm down is the first step. To get more in depth to this part of discipline without yelling, visit my other post How To Help Your Child Calm Down.
Speak Calmly To Your Child
Once your child is more calm and able to listen to you, you want to speak to them in a nonthreatening way. By keeping your voice relaxed and even you will be encouraging them to truly listen to what you say. And it gives them reassurance that it is safe to speak to you about what happened,
A huge part of what this does is sets an example. Your child will see you controlling your emotions and want to be able to do it too.
You know your child watches everything you do. Even when you don’t think they are looking. So showing them what to do and talking to them about how to do it will help immensely. And not only your child, but also yourself. Controlling your emotions and being aware of them will help you be able to succeed at discipline without yelling.
Explain The Behavior
Using that calm even voice we talked about, explain what was wrong with the behavior they exhibited. Use simple language and ask them questions. Let them tell you why the behavior happened. Hearing what made them do it gives you more information about how to help them avoid it. Don’t incriminate them for the behavior, help them learn from it.
Then describe a better way to handle the situation in the future. Describe what to do and give them examples. Talk it through and let them ask questions if they have any. You want the talk to be constructive.
Toddlers hit. It’s just something they go through. My son usually does it when he is very excited. He doesn’t mean to hurt, but his hands go everywhere and I get smacked in the face. The first reaction is to catch his hand, say no firmly. And reiterate no hitting. Usually it is said in a harsh tone.
But that is not effective. Saying “keep your hands to yourself. Hitting hurts.” is incredibly effective. It not only addresses the behavior being unacceptable. But it also tells him what to do instead and why. Kids are logical. Use logic to redirect them and they will respond better.
This is part of this process that is really hard to do when your child is very young. My son is only 14 months old as I write this. But he is very stubborn and strong willed. And he pushes boundaries of everything. He even waits until you leave the room or turn away before doing the thing he knows he is not supposed to.
So despite the fact that the conversation is obviously one sided. We are trying to get ourselves used to the process. As well as our son used to the expectation. We don’t want him to be used to yelling being the norm. And since nothing phases him in the way of discipline so far, we want to take an approach that will be as effective as possible. That’s the hope. Stay tuned for an update when he is older!
But regardless, keep at it and commit. Hopefully it will work for your entire family.
Follow Through With Your Promises
If you tell your child there will be a consequence for behavior, and they continue with the behavior, you have to follow through with the promise.
Saying “If you hit mommy with the toy again, I am going to take it away until you can play nicely.” is great. But when, 5 seconds later, he hits you with the toy again, you have to actually take the toy. Put it somewhere your child can see it but can’t get it. Go back through the steps to calm your child down and explain why the toy was taken away. Then explain what they need to do to get it back.
If you promise consequences and don’t follow through, your child will never learn. This is a huge part of discipline without yelling. If you skip this step it is not discipline. It is coddling and will do your child no good.
Don’t Give In
This is the step that is the hardest for me. As someone who is 34 weeks pregnant, I’m exhausted. And my body hurts. So chasing a toddler around is very difficult.
That paired with the fact children push boundaries normally. And continuously. A thousand times a day. Can really kill the motivation to continue saying and doing the same things over and over (insert 15 more overs here) again.
But eventually, your child will stop. It is a battle of wills. But you are older, wiser, and stronger. Remember it. And act it.
Stick with the process of discipline without yelling. And keep up the effort of telling your child no and redirecting. If you give in once, your child will know if they just keep going, you will let them do whatever they want to. Stick with it!
Use Positive Reinforcement
I know I’ve said other things are most important. But this time I mean it. If you are doing everything else I’ve talked about to implement discipline without yelling, you want to make sure you are incorporating this as well.
When your child exhibits the behavior you requested, especially if it is on their own with no redirection, you need to reward them.
It doesn’t have to be food or a toy, or anything of that nature. It can be anything they enjoy. Remembering that your attention is the thing they love the most can be helpful here. Give them a big hug. Pick your baby up in the air. Smile, laugh, give kisses. Say ‘good job!’
Anything they love is a reward. And keeping track of the times they do behaviors you ask for to add up to a bigger reward is a great thing. This can be a toy, or a trip somewhere they love.
Whatever kind of positive reinforcement you think will work for your child is what you should do.
Start Discipline Without Yelling In Your Home
This process can be hard to learn. But in the end it really is worth the time and effort. It can make for a much happier family and household.
Remember the basic aspects:
- Speak calmly and firmly
- Explain the problem with the behavior and what you want instead
- Follow through with your promises
- Don’t give in to your child’s strong will
- Use positive reinforcement whenever possible
Using this method will teach your child that behaving in an acceptable way will lead to good things happening. As well as reinforce that you are someone they can come to, even when they make mistakes. It keeps communication open with them while still leaving you in a parenting position which can be SO hard to achieve. It’s hard to even know how to start when that is your goal.
I hope that bringing the method of discipline without telling into your home and family will make your days easier and more pleasant. Good luck and let me know what works and what doesn’t!