The Most Effective Way to Stop Yelling

With Thanks To Ben Franklin
by Laura Elston

mom and son yelling at each other

As grownups, we’re thoroughly aware that yelling is not good for kids or for us. Still, it happens. Parents are not born saints, they have to work at it first.

You can more easily reach your goal to stay calm and to get better cooperation from your children by using the trick below. Thanks to Benjamin Franklin for the inspiration.

The Yelling Timeline

Does the timeline below look like what happens when you yell at your kids? If so, you’re about to discover how to easily erase the yelling impulse from your daily interactions.
yelling timeline

The Most Effective Way To Stop Yelling

There are two possible mechanisms to help us stop yelling at our kids: One is to increase our tolerance for frustration, and the other is to decrease our kids’ delay in complying with our requests. 

As per Ben Franklin’s famous dictum on economics, the single most effective way to stop yelling is to change both mechanisms at once. A little movement in each direction results in a big transformation.

You can see from the diagram that it’s only necessary to move a little in each direction in order to successfully curtail yelling and get greater cooperation from your kids.

If your kids have been conditioned to wait until you yell before moving, make double-sure that you have their benign attention before speaking. You want them to act on a single request and not wait for you to repeat yourself louder.

Below are ten tips for making it happen – five for increasing tolerance, and five for decreasing response time. Use at least one from each side.

10 Tips To Stop Yelling

Increase Tolerance Decrease Delay
  1. Do the Vital check: Is it dangerous to himself or others? This can include property damage, like when your toddler is using his toy hammer on the china cabinet.
    —> 90% of the time, your request fails the Vital test; in that case, stand down and deal with it later when you’re calmer
  1. Use different wording for the same message. People understand things in different ways, and we like variety. If you hear yourself saying the same thing twice, be alerted that you’re on autopilot.
  1. Frequently revisit the pros and cons of yelling. Meditate upon them. Be clear on what you’re giving up and what you’re getting when you yell. Empathize deeply with your future self who will grieve over, and atone for, this brief episode. Why go through it?
  1. Tag your request with fulfilling one of the Six Human Needs. How can it satisfy your child’s need for, say, Variety, or Contribution?
  1. Learn to make a joke to break your tension. Stress is directly related to inappropriate behavior, while laughter is a top stress-buster.
  1. Speak to the brain. Be clear and direct. Make a short request with definable parameters. 
  1. Consider which of the six human needs – Certainty, Variety, Significance, Love/Connection, Growth and Contribution – yelling fulfills for you. Is raising your voice an attempt to get more significance? Proactively fulfill your need in a better way.
  1. Do as you would be done by. Make your request respectful of your child’s nature and priorities. But don’t be a pushover; you have rights, too.
  1. Ask your child a question about the situation that doesn’t have “why” in it. Don’t assume you already know the answer. With more information, either of you may come to a different conclusion.
  1. Remind the child of his own stake in the desired outcome. For instance, remind a small child that when you go to the store, you get to drive by the big statue of the man on a horse.

The Pick Three Technique

The Pick Three technique is a deal you strike with your child which restricts your demands to three essential behaviors that are specific and measurable. If the child does these three things, you’ll get off his case about everything else.

Ironically, this technique increases cooperation across the board, not just in your chosen three behaviors. It’s critically important to keep your end of the deal. If you slip up, apologize.

Relationships Ahead Of Rules

As much as possible, put relationships ahead of rules. It’s safe, it’s effective, and it’s rich soil for growing kids.

Taming Tantrums, Part 1

The Most Surprising Secret
by Laura Elston

cartoon of girl throwing tantrum and dad

The closest most of us want to get to a tantrum is watching some other parent’s kid have a meltdown. When tantrums strike in our own homes, they’re shocking and seem difficult to solve. It’s happy news that these outbursts are curable, even when nothing you’ve tried so far has worked.

Some of the responses that today’s experts tell us to use to fix the situation actually deepen the root cause of tantrums. It’s no wonder, then, that the behavior often gets worse instead of better.

We’ve come a long way from the days when we just hauled off and clobbered the kid. That was very effective in stopping a screaming fit. We’ve discovered, though, that it’s not a good idea for the child’s longterm development.

Time-outs Need a Time-Out

More compassionate, we think, is ignoring the behavior until it stops of its own accord or using time-outs. Both tactics have worked to terminate tantrums. Time-outs, especially, are recommended over and over  by parents and psychologists.

However, for many children, even gentle-seeming time-outs add fuel to the fire. The kids’ flames of  temper get bigger and hotter, while their desperate parents get more desperate.

time-outs are not recommendedHere’s Why
The time-out chair isolates a child at the moment he most needs your help to manage the explosive emotions that grip him.

• His isolation increases his fear

• Fear is the root cause of tantrums

• Therefore, isolating a child tends increases his tendency to throw tantrums.

For every step forward you take with your child, you take half a step back, so it seems like the problem takes a long time to solve.

But the situation can resolve itself much faster.

The issue for the child is deeper than the unavailable toy, the unwanted routine or the unmet expectation. Those surface provocations are only the matches put to well-laid fires.

Common root fears that cause kids to wig out unexpectedly are (1) fear of losing control and (2) fear of losing connection. These both can feel so big in a small child that they appear to him to be a life-or-death struggle.

If all that doesn’t convince you that time-outs aren’t the best idea, imagine that you’re in a cave with your child when a monster comes in. To deal with it, you put your child in a corner and walk away. Even in your wildest dreams, you wouldn’t do it.

What Really Works To Tame Tantrums

What really works to calm tantrums and to prevent their reoccurrence is connecting with your child in the midst of the upset. If you’re shaking your head right now, I know what you mean. How do you connect with a girl who’s throwing a wild tantrum?

• If you can’t get physically close to her, make eye contact. Don’t stare her down, but be fully present. Your calmness is a model for her.

• Protecting everyone’s safety is your first concern. Sometimes, a child needs to be prevented from harming herself or others by force. Otherwise, don’t use force or anything that might feel like it to the child.

• Hold her if you can. If she doesn’t want you near her, give her a little space. Tell her that you won’t leave her alone while she’s struggling with her big feelings.

• Help your child to verbalize what he’s experiencing. “Wow, you’re so mad that you can’t have your toy right now.”  What’s identified is less scary; it’s like coming out of the dark or the fog.

• Don’t try to solve the problem. Reason is worse than useless with a child in an irrational state.

• Don’t try to mitigate what he feels, as in “C’mon now, it’s not that bad.” To him, it is.

• Teach your little one that screaming won’t produce his apparent objective, e.g., getting a toy, getting his way, and so on. Really communicate this message.

• Remind him of his other choices.

• Gently help him day-by-day to achieve his real objective, which is a robust sense of self-worth. Self-worth means a true belief that one can control oneself and be connected meaningfully with others.

• Be alert to rewarding the behaviour you do want so that it’ll be repeated.

The more ingrained your child’s tantrum habit is, the longer it will take to go away. Rest assured that it will. Be consistent, confident and calm, and expect the best possible outcome.

Handling tantrums in this way will cause them to shrink and to disappear. You’ll have a deeper, quieter relationship with your child.

Taming Tantrums, Part 2 – A Short Guide to Prevention and Cure

Affirmations Are Food For the Soul

Positive Words, Powerful Results
by Jackie Rodriguez

lunchbox with love note
I used to believe that actions always speaks louder than words. In this area of life, action and words must have equal opportunity and importance.

Honestly, not every person has a “statement of affirmation” as their basic language, but all of us need affirming words. Supporting our children with words and deeds, we will eventually find out that our affirmation for them is sincere.

Affirmation is one of the most sensible way to boost our children’s heartwarming confidence and their gratification from the right things they do. Each good act our child does, big or small, is worthy to be recognized. Our children do well when they feel seen and appreciated.

We mustn’t be hesitant to praise them with comforting remarks. One mom was surprised by the effectiveness of her affirmations. As she tells it,

“I have been giving her admiration and kisses—when I first see her in the morning, when I bring her to her class, when I fetch her from school, and when we are ready to sleep at night. My daughter used to be problem child but something surprising take place instead of being naughty and disobedient my child’s bad behavior VANISHED. It worked!”

Here are three forms of affirmation that will work for you and your child.

Afiirmation Form 1 – Touch

A mom of three recounts,

“I did not express them the love or compliments that they should have received. I grieved myself to sleep in the hours of darkness because looking back, I couldn’t recall embracing my children when I arrived home from work and before going to bed. Now every single day, every single hour and every single minute, I make a point to kiss, hug, caress and lay a hand on their shoulder to confirm that they are secure and loved.”

As parents we can show warm hearted touch by carrying our child, pats on the back and giving high-fives.

Affirmation Form 2 – Praise

We should not be reluctant to compliment our child, particularly when he has accomplished favorable action, such as helping us with chores or getting high marks in school. A parent’s affirmation of a child’s perseverance breeds a passionate determination for him to continue his job.

We prove to our kids how much we value them by giving them praises everyday. We should show them that they are important to us always, without ifs or buts. When we see a child do a good deed or exhibit good behavior, we say, “I’m so proud of you!” “Good job!” and “Wow, that was really smart!”

Affirmation Form 3 – Acknowledge

Every child longs for the encouragement from their family that says, I believe in you. I see your effort. Keep going! So if our son or daughter is having a hard time working into something, say, “You’re trying very hard, and you almost have it!”

Acknowledgement helps children to gain a sense of their own accomplishments. By experiencing success, their self-confidence and positive attitude improve, even in the face of some problems and difficulties.

Allow children to do tasks for themselves, and appreciate their successful results. For example, allow young children to take on domestic jobs, such as sorting socks and putting away their toys. Then acknowledge their accomplishment.

Endless Possibilities

Affirmation has endless possibilities. Yet busy parents are often too distracted to take a heartfelt moment to appreciate their children; parents forget and take for granted the good actions. Let’s make it a habit to affirm our children daily.

There’s nothing more important than the delighted remarks and deeds of the parents for their children. When our children are filled with deep affection, appreciation, compliments, praise and peace of mind, they will someday have lots of love to shower on others as well.


Further reading:
How to Affirm Children
by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, Demand Media

Building A Child’s Self-Worth With Constructive Praise

Children and Loving Touch
, Miranda Walichowski

Video: 100 Ways To Show Children You Care

Categories: Influence – Tags: affirmations, affirming your child

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Taming Tantrums, Part 2

A Short Guide To Prevention and Cure
by Laura Elston

cartoon of girl throwing tantrum and dad

Tantrums are frequent occurrences in children, who are still learning to handle their emotions. They also happen en masse in grown-ups who feel frustrated and powerless; then, they’re called riots. Both kinds of outbursts have the same basic cause: emotions that feel bigger than the person’s ability to cope with them calmly.

the silver lining of childhood tantrumsA child who is having a tantrum is the perpetrator of the bad behavior, but she’s also the victim of her emotions. Treat her neither as the perpetrator nor as the victim, since both approaches worsen the trouble. The path of collaboration works best, especially if you can stay calm and keep a sense of humor.

Here are some very practical tips on the prevention and cure of tantrums.

1. Divert

  • Avoid head-butting; go around potential areas of conflict rather than through
  • Notice force-multipliers, such as hunger and fatigue, and take special precautions in these circumstances
  • Be sure the child knows in advance that a tantrum thrown is an object blown: you will not consider any request made in the throes of a hissy fit
  • Remove the child from the situation where possible until order is restored

2. Connect

  • To paraphrase Erica Jong, A tantrum in motion tends to stay in motion; intervene in order to help the child find a way out of his dilemma
  • Stay as close as you safely can, and verbalize his emotions for him
  • Make eye contact so that the child knows you are fully present
  • Forego trying to reason with the child; it’s like trying to argue a runaway train into stopping
  • Help the child express his underlying fear by making it safe for him to cry with you

3. Educate

  • Later, when the two of you are calm and snuggly, explore alternatives to explosions
  • Ensure that the child has enough connection with you in his good moments so that he doesn’t use tantrums as a means to get attention

Taming Tantrums, Part 1 – The Most Surprising Secret

Further reading:

Several very good discussions of tantrum prevention and cure are on the website of Dr. Laura Markham, who offers some example dialogues for various situations. Articles include:
Managing Your Toddler: TANTRUMS!
8 Year Old Tantrums – is this normal?

Writer Lynne Wright offers a wry portrait of the tantrumist family in her Montreal neighbourhood. While not overly sympathetic, it’s a fun read and a good caveat for the laissez-faire.
Don’t make me come ova there with a little helpin’ of whupass, chile!

Forgiveness Rocks

Restore Your Authority With a Really Good Apology
by Laura Elston

Parents sometimes hesitate to apologize to their children, fearing that admitting parenting fails will destroy their credibility. Au contraire. Mistakes are part of every good life. Who better for children to learn this from than their parents?

The valuable lesson that kids can learn from you is how to handle the inevitable errors that occur. Do you accept with grace that you’re not perfect? Do you say you’re sorry when it’s called for? Or do you stress out and clamp down? What are you modeling for your children about how to respond to being in the wrong?

“When you find yourself acting contrary to your own rules, an apology is important,” says Dr. Sabrina Black, Clinical Director of the Abundant Life Counseling Center in Southfield, Michigan. “Children need to know you are fragile and you can be wrong,” Black says. She doesn’t believe parents should confess all their faults to their children, but says it’s key to acknowledge mistakes, ask for forgiveness – and then drop the issue. (

Here’s what a really good apology can do for you.

Give your children a chance to practice forgiveness
Children are eager to forgive you; you are their lifeline. But forgiving is a skill that takes practice. By making a sincere apology, you’re offering your kids practice in forgiveness, one of life’s most valuable skills.

Reduce your guilt
Who feels worse when you treat a child poorly, you or him? You do. Have you ever indulged your child shamelessly for a week because of saying or doing a dumb thing? Parents feel awful about being unfair to their children, and an apology is a good way to let go of the guilt.

Repair your relationship
Relationships are largely about trust. Trust is a necessary condition for having authority with children. When you acknowledge and apologize for a mistake, it repairs your child’s trust in you.

Deepen your bond
An apology exposes your vulnerability. This can be hard for loving parents who want their children to feel safe and protected. Contrary to intuition, your being occasionally vulnerable makes children feel safer. They learn that things can go wrong, be fixed, and life goes on happily.

How to make a really good apology.

  • Make eye-contact, which increases the child’s perception of sincerity.
  • Apologize in the manner that your child likes best. What seems like a good “I’m sorry” to you may not be effective for him. Does he like certain words? Does he like a hug or a kiss? If you don’t know, this is a good chance to find out.
  • Give a reason. People forgive more readily when offered  a reason. Just remember that a reason is not an excuse.
  • Don’t repeat the mistake. Eliminating the offensive behavior is a real sign of being sorry.


Articles You May Enjoy:
Saying I’m Sorry, Redbook
7 Rules on How To Apologize, Alpha Mom
Should We Apologize To Our Children, Street Directory

Perfectly Fine Parenting

by Laura Elston

Graphic of perfect children

If you had a perfect child, would you smile, would you brag, or would you run screaming from the room? If you said run screaming from the room, I’m with you.

Can you imagine the mind-numbing banality of living with a perfect child? It would be unbearable. It would also be creepy, which is probably why in horror movies, demonic children start out looking perfect.

You don’t want perfect kids. Kids don’t want perfect parents, either. They want real parents who love them for themseleves and who smile at them.

Take a little weight off your shoulders by reading Carrie Goldman’s true-life post, Top 10 Ways I Was a Perfect Mom Until I Had Kids. It begins,

Before I had kids, I possessed many ideas about what kind of parent I would be. Below are ten of those assumptions — and the reality that followed, post-kids.

1. I will not bribe my kids. They will behave because they have such great internal moral compasses, and complying will be what they want to do.

Reality: I will let you eat Hershey’s Kisses for breakfast if you stay in your bed tonight. I will take you anywhere you want to go if you will just stay in your bed tonight.

2. I will maintain appropriate boundaries in the bathroom.

Read more