Evening arrives and the inevitable happens. How can we stop yelling at kids every night? They don’t deserve it (or they do), but we don’t need that stress. These strategies will get your nighttimes back under control.
The clock reads 6pm and you feel like a rubber band stretched to it’s limit and ready to snap.
It’s been one incident after another.
Your son asked for a cup of milk and spilled it all over the living room floor.
Your daughter scolded him about being more careful and now they are screaming at each other.
These are the times you want to dig that pint of Ben & Jerry’s out from the back of the freezer, retreat to the bathroom and eat your caramel and chocolate fishies in silence.
Except… you don’t have ice cream.
So you break down.
“STOP IT!,” you yell at the two of them. “STOP YELLING AT YOUR BROTHER!!”
Your daughter looks at you and her face melts. A tiny tear drizzles down her cheek.
Immediately, you feel sorry. Regret floods in.
Why can’t you keep it together
…be a more patient mom?
…and stop yelling at your kids at night?
I get it. Kids push us past our point of sanity. While we may be able to keep our cool during the morning, the weight of the day wears on us in the evening.
And we understandably snap.
But, there is a fix for this.
First, let’s dive into why we’re more likely to yell in the evening and then I’ll share a few strategies to help you nip it.
Triggers for Yelling at Kids at Night
When we yell, instead of changing their behavior, our kids retreat into a fight-or-flight response.
It’s like animals in the wild. When something threatens them, they either run and hide or they attack.
Animals don’t have time to rationalize that,”Hey… maybe if I didn’t steal this banana from the ape five times my size… I wouldn’t be in this situation.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, our generation is more likely to yell at our kids than our parents’ generation.
Spanking was the form of punishment back in the 80’s. But growing up, we were so conditioned to view spanking as wrong that we’ve replaced it with yelling.
And here’s the scary part, studies have shown that parental warmth – like hugging and encouragement – can offset the effects of spanking. For instance, if your father spanked you over his knee but then hugged you after and said he loved you – the spanking really wouldn’t have caused too much emotional harm.
However, nothing will offset a screamed, “Why are you so stupid?” Or a “You just can’t do anything right!”.
Things we scream out of anger, frustration and a loss of control.
In the heat of the moment, we don’t mean ANY of the verbal tirade spewing from our lips but our words become part of our kid’s internal dialogue.
So.. why do we scream at night?
A few reasons:
- We’re tired and worn down from the day
- We’re taking our child’s misbehavior as a personal reflection of our parenting
- We feel powerless in the situation
If you’re experiencing any of these, you are more like to lose control. And sometimes, I don’t know about you, but I’m all three.
Here’s how we can fix it:
Gain Back Your Control
Since many times our yelling stems from a source of powerlessness, we need to establish our power back in the situation.
This needn’t be anything complicated.
Lauren from The Military Wife and Mom suggests to mentally tally up 5 things that you can control in that moment you are angry.
For instance, when I’m frustrated that I’ve asked my daughter 10 times to take a shower and she is no closer to the bathroom door, instead of losing it and becoming snippy, I can name what I can control.
- Turn off that episode of Full House she is watchingTake 3 deep breaths
- Shut myself in the bathroom and eat Ben & Jerrys
- Forget about the shower and let the natural social consequences of not bathing take their toll
- Pour myself a glass of wine
Obviously, not all of those choices are optimal however they are ALL in my control. I can choose to do any of those things.
Already, I’m feeling more in control. This leads me to approach my daughter in a much calmer manner.
Remind Yourself to Stay in Control
Oh ya… I wasn’t supposed to yell.
But how do you remember that when it’s bedtime and your three-year-old is drawing on the couches with magenta Sharpie?
That’s why you need to place a little reminder.
Amanda of Messy Motherhood places little yellow paper hearts around her house – on the mirror, by the door, above her child’s bed.
Each times she sees these, she’s reminded of her promise to herself not to lose her temper.
What physical reminder can you place around your home?
Maybe it’s a bracelet you wear or even a digital alarm set on your phone for the time where all your willpower is gone.
Stop Scheduling Yourself Thin
Oh my gosh… if I could just make it through the day?
I find that on the days I schedule back-to-back activities, I’m drained and find myself snapping at my kids for the silliest reasons.
Just the other Thursday, my after school schedule was:
2PM Pick son up from preschool
2:40PM Pick daughter up from school
2:50PM Take both back to the house and have them change as fast as possible into their dance clothes
3:00PM Shove EasyMac into daughter’s dinner bag so she won’t starve during 3 hours at dance
3:15PM Middle school tour – which my son hated and wanted to be held for an hour and a half
4:30PM Drop both off at dance class
Oh my gosh…this afternoon. Pick up kids from school, go on a middle school tour for my fourth grader (where my four-year-old complained for an hour about being bored) and then drop off both kids at dance. Thank goodness for Thursday dance!! Nothing that “Beautiful Trauma” and an iced chai latte won’t fix. Happy Friday Eve all!!!
That was only 2 hours and I found myself strung out and exhausted.
We need time in our schedule to breathe.
If I had not had that hour-long dance class break, I GUARANTEE that I would have broken down in tears some point that evening.
You need a break, too.
Here’s some way to do it:
- Say no to the mountain of kid activities that you feel like a glorified taxi driver for
- Ask parents of your child’s friends to take your kid on a playdate.
- Build “Using Your Imagination” time into your schedule (this means you have a break and kids cannot rely on you for entertainment)
I give you permission to schedule downtime. Give yourself permission as well.
Once you feel like you have gained back some control and feel more rested, you’ll find that your outbursts will become less frequent.
Yelling at our kids is usually never about our kids. It’s about us internalizing our child’s behavior and feeling powerless.
We’re not powerless.
You are strong
…You rock at being a mom.
Make your downtime and mental sanity a priority and see your patience improve.
I can’t wait to hear about it.
Are chores a source of yelling in your home? Read on for how to ACTUALLY get your kids to do their jobs without backtalk.