The #1 Reasons Parents Yell and How to Turn It Around

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Guest post by Andy Smithson, Tru Parenting

It wasn't the traffic you endured while running the kids to football, band and dance practice. It wasn't really the announcement of “I have to pee” that came from the back seat the moment you left the driveway. I wasn't even the constant noise and quarreling between your son and daughter that set you off. It wasn't the pile of paperwork your boss threw at you at the end of your work day, or the mess on the floor when you entered the front door of your house, or the dinner that needed to be prepared and then cleaned up that sent you over the edge. You thought you could handle just one tantrum, one “NO, NO, NO!” But, you started to wonder after the third “No” just how much you could take. It wasn't any one of the one million things you had to do today that sent your voice into the stratosphere. It was all of them combined, plus One More Thing!

We've all heard the idiom “the straw that broke the camel's back.” If you are like most parents, you have probably been that camel at some point or another. Although our children are not generally the “cause” of yelling, they can be awfully adept at performing the behavior that often seems to be “the last straw.” The kids end up getting the tail end of our stress and overwhelm.

But I've never met a parent that likes to yell. So why do parents yell?

What parents said was the #1 reason for yelling at the kids

I recently asked parents across social media groups and channels what they felt were the top reasons parents yelled at their kids. The comments and responses came rolling in. Hundreds of parents weighed in and I was surprised by the top responses, not because I disagreed, but because I thought that kids would get more of the blame. We are either a more insightful and enlightened generation of parents or more self deprecating. Not sure which. Either way, there was no disputing the top results. Parents sighted personal, internal issues far more than external triggers such as their children's specific behaviors.

The #1 reason parents reported that they yell, by a long shot, was stress and overwhelm. Behaviors like “not listening, slow pokes or bedtime struggles” certainly came up, but they did not dominate the discussion as I had anticipated.

We can all relate. I've felt it. You've felt it. The proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back can be anything. Sometimes its a food complaint at the dinner table. Other times it's that shoe that you swore you asked them to pick up a half hour ago. Regardless of what it is that leads us to lose it, we can usually trace it back to the overall load rather than the one specific act.

It happens to all of us, but don't worry, there is help and relief!

When it comes to stress and overwhelm there are basically 3 choices we can make, or better yet, we can implement all 3. We can...

  • Decrease our stress
  • Increase our tolerance
  • Manage the stress we've got more effectively

Here are 3 suggestions of specific ways we can do a little of each in our daily lives and lead to less stress and overwhelm and subsequently, less yelling.

  1. Say “No” more often. This can be easier said than done. It takes some serious introspection and wisdom to see and acknowledge our own limits and then to respectfully communicate those to others in our lives. But, if we want to have more and greater quality time with the people that are most important to us, we have to learn to say “no” to more “stuff” that we fill our lives with. You don't have to do everything. Say it with me... “It's okay to buy the Oreos rather than baking the gourmet desert for the school function. It's okay to to limit some of the extra-curriculars.” If you find yourself struggling with setting boundaries and saying “no” to things in your life, I often suggest the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud.
  2. Practice chilling out every day. You have more power than you think you do over your emotional state and reactions. I teach my counseling and coaching clients a skill I call the Quick Calm Technique and often utilize several meditation practices to help parents learn to increase awareness, tolerance and conscious, mindful responding. Our ability to tolerate and eliminate distress is both a physiological and mental activity. It takes regular practice to get good at it.
  3. Change how we look at stress. We can learn to experience stress differently by simply changing how we view it. Kelly McGonigal is a stress researcher that taught people for years that stress was “bad” and to avoid it like the plague. Through continued study she found that this view of stress was actually more harmful than the stress itself. In her TED talk, “How to Make Stress Your Friend” she explains that when we come to recognize our natural stress response as a natural and positive response that helps our body and mind prepare for challenges, we can actually change our biology and physiology surrounding that stress and have much more favorable outcomes. Stress can actually be “good.” Designing some specific positive self talk around our stress can be a simple way to start changing our view and turn overwhelm into greater strength and success.

The implementation of these 3 skills regularly can set the stage for dramatic changes in our own lives and in the lives of our kids and families. You will have less stress as well as get better at stress. You don't have to let the little things add up anymore. When our load is lighter and our ability to carry that load is strengthened our kids no longer have to play the role of the “straw that broke the camel's back.” They get to play the role of the learning, growing silly little boy or girl. They get to play the role of your child.

Sometimes we need help

Remembering all of these skills and techniques and staying accountable to following through with the practice required to master our stress and overwhelm often requires having help. We like to think that we can do everything on our own, but it just ends up stressing us out more. It's not the knowing that is the hard part. It's the doing that is the hard part. This is why Andy has created the “Stop Yelling in 21 Days Coaching Course.” It is a complete and comprehensive course that will fit any schedule and budget. It will give you the tools, inspiration and support you need to relax a little more, decrease your stress and overwhelm and finally stop yelling!

Register for the Stop Yelling Course Here.

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