Creative Child

How to Motivate Kids Without Yelling

by Sarah Lyons

Every parent yells at their kids once in awhile, but when yelling becomes your go-to method of communicating your expectations, it can end up leading to negative results. A child who is yelled at frequently will start to tune out what is being said and will begin to use yelling as a way to express themselves also. What is the best way to motivate kids without yelling? Here are some ideas:

Establish clear expectations

To avoid yelling in the future, establish clear rules and expectations and make sure your kids understand what those are. “Remain consistent in applying the consequences so that it is known that rules have value.” says Kara Thomas, mom and preschool teacher from Shawnee, KS.  For example, if mornings are difficult, set rules that help everyone in the family can follow to make things run smoother. Create a routine so kids know what to expect and what needs to be done next. Set rules such as - everyone needs to be dressed, done eating, and have shoes on and bags packed before playtime or using electronics in the morning. A natural consequence for not following this rule is loss of electronics for a day following the event.  A similar routine can be set for bedtime. Let kids know what behaviors are not acceptable in the home (hitting, fighting, being disrespectful) and what the consequences are for breaking a family rule. When a rule is broken or a morning isn’t going smoothly, the kids will not be surprised by the consequences because they have been discussed calmly in advance.  There will be no need to yell because once a rule is broken, the consequence is put into place and the day goes on.

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Give positive reinforcement

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that someone who receives negative feedback will start to feel bad about themselves while a person who receives positive feedback, understanding, and encouragement will have more self-confidence and a better attitude overall. Take the opportunity to encourage and give as much positive reinforcement as possible when dealing with kids. “If you are trying to find the balance, the two positives to every behavior correction can be a good model to try and follow.” says Thomas. When the time comes for correction, try to give advice or ask for things in a positive and calm way. This will likely have better results than yelling.

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Examine yourself

If you have noticed that you yell at your children more than you would like to, think about what is causing this. Are you rushed? Frustrated? Do you need a break? Sometimes we don’t realize how often we are yelling. Consider asking a co-parent or friend to be an accountability partner and let you know when you need to cool down and approach the situation differently. If your children are older, you can also ask them for help in changing your behavior by allowing them to point out when you are yelling. In advance, come up with some ideas of what you can try instead of yelling - if your child will not put on their shoes, ask them to race to see who can do it faster.  If you feel the urge to yell, walk into a room where your child can’t hear you and mutter out whatever you wanted to yell. This should allow you to return the situation more calmly and direct your child in a more positive way. Let your child know in advance what the consequences of bad behavior will be and warn your child what will happen. If the behavior occurs, follow through with the consequence you set without yelling.

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