Positive Parenting: How to End Your Yelling and Be a Less Frazzled Parent

In 2014, I created a private online group for parents who wanted to break the cycle of yelling. Within weeks, thousands had poured in looking for help. Why are so many of us running on such short fuses? I think it’s safe to say that we have a yelling epidemic, and it needs our attention. The parents in my group expressed many reasons for yelling, but it mostly boiled down to one single issue – we need to take better care of our mental health.

The Yelling Trap

Parents hate yelling. It makes us feel guilty, and we know it’s not good for our kids, yet we sometimes feel justified in our yelling because we think it’s the only way to get our kids to listen. This is the trap we get caught in, because once we have established the habit of yelling, our children do tune us out. They become less connected and less cooperative, and who can blame them? No one responds well to being yelled at. We then view this tuning out as an act of defiance which further triggers anger and more yelling. Pretty soon, they don’t listen at all until we get loud, and then we feel lousy and helpless to end the cycle we’ve become ensnared in.

[Effective Parenting in a Busy Modern World: 6 Ways to Build a Better Bond With Your Child]

What’s Frazzling You? Rebecca Eanes Positive Parenting

As I stated above, I believe our frazzled state stems from a lack of caring for our mental health. We allow ourselves to become worn until we begin to unravel because we put everyone else’s needs above our own. Yes, it’s true that parenting is an unselfish endeavor – we must make sacrifices of time and energy and take care of the needs of our children first. However, it is unwise to neglect ourselves to the point where we become exhausted, short on patience, frazzled, and even resentful. We must be intentional in our daily lives to weed out that which is causing us unnecessary stress and to build in time to nourish our own minds and bodies as well. Being of good health in mind and body helps us to give our best to our families. To that end, ask yourselves the following questions:

1. What’s influencing you? I think it’s wise to guard against negative influences in our lives, whether in the form of family, friends, social media, internet, books, or television. What we allow to enter our minds can have tremendous influence on how we perceive our lives, and so if we are allowing someone or something to regularly influence us that leaves us feeling negative in some way, we should perhaps look at how to make an improvement.

[4 Ways to Raise Happy Kids in Times of Stress]

2. Are you guarding your time well? If your calendar is stuffed full and you dread most of it, it’s time to start saying “no” to more events and commitments and yes to a happier, less-stressed life. This is not easy for us people-pleasers, but it’s a big step in the direction of becoming less frazzled. In addition, how much time is being wasted on frivolous tasks that could be better spent doing something that truly fills your cup?

3. Are you getting the essentials? Healthy food, fresh air, exercise, and sleep shouldn’t be a luxury. They’re necessary for good health, and yet many parents are living on left-over chicken nuggets and 4 hours of broken sleep. I realize that some sleep deprivation in the early season of parenthood is inevitable, but perhaps we let it go on far longer than necessary because we want that coveted “me time” until 2 a.m. I’ve certainly been guilty of that. Evaluate your life in this regard and notice where you can make improvements.

4. How’s your mental and emotional health? Dealing with disorders such as anxiety or depression can have serious impacts on our patience and overall ability to handle life well. If you’ve been trying to manage it on your own, or if your current management isn’t working, ask for help. Persistent negative thought patterns or a harsh inner critic also chip away our self-esteem and our self-control, and of course loneliness also plays a part, and many mothers have told me that they are lonely. I’m sure fathers feel this as well. Reach out to a friend, make time for your partner, and connect with your grown-up people, too.

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay]

Breaking the Cycle

Addressing the issues that came to light from answering the above questions is the first step to becoming a less frazzled parent. Let your family know of your commitment to end yelling by declaring your home a yell-free zone. Post signs and put reminders around your home. Next, find support. There are various online groups committed to ending the yelling cycle. If that’s not your cup of tea, confide in a trusted friend. Finally, it’s time to create your unique no-yell plan. It is said that our initial neurological response to anger lasts only a few seconds, and if we remain angry beyond that, it is because we’ve made a choice to do so. Learning to manage those initial few seconds takes a great deal of will-power and self-control, yet mastering it is the solution to ending the yelling cycle. Once you’ve made it through those first few seconds without yelling, there are several things you can do to continue to calm down and respond thoughtfully, such as:

  • Repeat a mantra like “I am a calm and capable
  • Use imagery that soothes you
  • Do jumping jacks or go for a short walk
  • Continue slow, deep breathing



{Image credit: Grant Benton, Unsplash}


About the Author

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Rebecca Eanes is the founder of www.positive-parents.org, creator of the popular Facebook page Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond, contributing editor to Creative Child and Baby Maternity Magazines, and author of The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting. In her new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, Rebecca shares her hard-won insights on giving up the conventional parenting paradigm to reconnect heart to heart with her children.

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