Do you ever catch yourself yelling at your child to get your point across?
“Ryan Jr! Didn’t I tell you to leave your brother alone!?”
“Kace! How many times do I have to tell you to clean your room!?”
Those are only two of the phrases I’ve previously found myself bellowing at the top of my lungs when I’m trying to get my sons to pay attention and follow directions.
But what I’ve found is that yelling to get your point across can actually do a lot more harm than good.
Our children emulate what we do, so when we yell, they begin to believe the most effective way to get their point across is to also yell. It also makes them less effective communicators.
Here’s some tips on how to talk so kids will listen, so you can save your vocal cords for yelling at the refs on TV. 📢👂
Stop – Look – Listen
Try using a STOP-LOOK-LISTEN strategy to make your kids listen. You and your kids can think of it this just like a traffic light:
Red: This means stop. Your child should stop what he or she is doing immediately.
Yellow: This means look and wait. Your child should focus on you to see what the next direction are.
Green: This means listen and go. Your child will listen to the directions you provide and then go follow those directions.
Let’s dig a little deeper into each of those signals.
Red is for STOP
Red not only represents your kids stopping in their tracks to pay attention to you, it also means YOU stop yelling – which will make a huge difference.
Yelling sets a negative tone of communication and children react negatively to the aggressive harsh sounds calling them to listen. Eventually they may tune out, or even start feeling negativity toward you.
In the STOP – LOOK – LISTEN strategy, it’s important to get your children’s attention before you start to give instructions.
You need something that will represent the equivalent of “stop” for your children, just as if they were at a red light or stop sign. When they hear or see this signal, they know it’s time to put down toys, or whatever they’re doing, and prepare to listen.
The signal for “STOP” could be a distinct clapping pattern that you use, or a keyword that they’ll respond to. The bottom line is when this signal is issued, kids should be at your attention.
Yellow is for LOOK
The yellow stage is critical for parenting without yelling. It’s the time for your kids to look and wait for directions from you once they’ve stopped doing what they were doing in the previous stage. Now you can calmly provide instructions for them to follow.
Having your kids look and wait for directions means that you have a speaking platform, undistracted. This can significantly help with yelling because now you’re no longer competing for your children’s attention with their favorite TV show, or their toys.
Also, become self-aware if there are any triggers that set you off to yell. Are you more prone to yell when you’re tired? If so, take a breather before you communicate with the kiddos so that they only get the best of you and not the on-edge leftovers at the end of your day.
Green is for LISTEN
In this final stage you’re providing your kids (who are attentively looking and listening to you) with calm, simple directions. For even better results, have your kids repeat back your instructions to further reinforce the task at hand.
Some additional things to keep in mind at this stage to help your kids become better listeners:
- Be a good listener yourself
- Try to replace lecturing with explanation
- Be firm and concise with direction based on the situation
- As much as possible, provide one instruction at a time instead of a laundry list of directions
- Avoid nagging, since eventually that can lead to being “tuned out” and frustration for everyone
“Make Discipline Fun!”
You can even make the process of becoming a good listener fun for your child. “Simon Says” is one of the best listening games for kids – so this can be your own family version of the same game.
You can even give your kids points every time they’re successful at STOP – LOOK – LISTEN. Those points can accumulate and be used towards a prize or special toy that they want.
Incorporating a bit of positive discipline will not only help you stop yelling to get your point across, but it’ll also show your kids how to communicate effectively – which will serve them in every stage of life.