My answer: I love how in-tune you are, and you know that yelling isn’t what you want to be doing and you don’t feel good doing it. Awareness is the first step.
No parent wants to be shouting at their kids, it doesn’t feel good, yet in the moment however hard you try, it’s hard to stop.
Shouting works. Because when we do shout, our kids DO listen. Even if it is resentfully…
To be honest with you, I used to be the biggest shouter too and it’s one of the reasons I became a parenting coach as I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do, yet couldn’t stop myself, even though I knew I was damaging the relationship with my children. So, I know first-hand the guilt and how it eats away at you.
You’re so ready for change.
The reason we shout is correct. We react to what we perceive. It’s a normal human reaction isn’t it? How do we respond to feeling unheard and disrespected? Or the thought that we have ungrateful children?
So often we think it’s the situation that causes our reaction. “Why DO YOU MAKE ME shout at you?!” we blame our child for our reaction, when in fact, no one MAKES us shout. We actually give our power away when we shout, because we think our reactions are being controlled by our children’s actions. So, we then try and change our child’s behaviour, so we don’t have to shout. Explore further why your child won’t listen unless you shout.
“Why can’t you JUST listen?!”
I used to think, if only my daughter would listen, I wouldn’t have to shout! I’m sure that if she could articulate her thoughts she would have said “If only my Mum wouldn’t shout at me then I would listen to her. But I’m not listening to a MEAN Mum!”
Why we do what we do makes perfect sense.
When you think about something stressful, like your kids not listening to you. The amygdala, a section of the brain located in the temporal lobe, fires up. The amygdala is the part of our brain that’s in charge of our emotional responses, most importantly your stress response.
It has an important role to play, it prepares us for emergency events but often it can kick into action and detects a threat where there really isn’t any. (Our brain can’t tell the difference between a real threat and a threat in our mind that isn’t really there.)
We have a negative thought about a situation (remember a thought doesn’t necessarily mean it is real) our amygdala says “help!” and causes changes in our body such as increased muscle tension, heartrate and faster breathing. Often, we don’t pay attention to how our body feels and our body reactions and the messages it’s sending us.
The amygdala then reads these body changes as more proof that something is actually wrong which further activates the fight, flight, freeze response and creates a cycle where you become more and more anxious and physically and emotionally overwhelmed.
In that moment we feel powerless to the situation, so shouting is a huge hit of power. I mean it works doesn’t it?! In that moment we feel good. We feel powerful, it’s just not getting our need for power met in a way we or our children like. And so on and on this cycle plays out.
So, I would invite you to become curious to what your interpretation is to the situation just before you shout.
If you think your kids are being disrespectful when they don’t listen, or that they ‘never listen’ or that it’s going to be a battle to get them to do what you ask. Then of course you are going to shout. It’s stressful.
The reason counting to 3 doesn’t work is that you are still in your fight, flight, freeze part of the brain, you are still triggered, and the negative thoughts, judgments and assumptions are still flying around your head. It’s also a too big of a jump from going from overwhelmed and stressed out to calm.
The power of Language of Listening® is that it helps you see with ‘new eyes’
Say what you see® is the first step of the coaching model. You literary say your child is doing, saying, feeling or thinking. To get access to hundreds of examples of Say What You See®, take a look here.
The magic of Say What You See® is that it gets you out of your head, where we tend to live in judgment and smack bang into the moment of what is happening. Your child is busy with their agenda, they might be busy playing, looking out the window, doing a cartwheel, who knows!
Say What You See® would sound like:
“You want to keep playing.”
“You’re busy, the last thing you want is to stop playing and come for a bath.”
“You want to finish what you started; you’ve just got to the good bit”
This is the connection part, you would then go on to offer guidance and support, (the next two steps in the Language of Listening® frame-work) which will support you to hold your boundaries and get the willing cooperation you’re after.
When your mind is racing, getting back to the here-and-now and seeing things from your child’s view, is very helpful in managing overwhelming feelings. It is a great way to calm down quickly.
Say What You See® also helps bring the focus to what IS happening to you physically, either in your body or in your surroundings, instead of being trapped by the thoughts in your mind that are causing you to feel overwhelmed with anger and frustration.
In order to change our reactions
we often need a transition step, it’s a bit like success training for you. It helps you break your habit of shouting and gives you a replacement in the moment. As I mentioned your NEED for power is high. And shouting is a way for you to get your need for power met, it’s just not in a way you LIKE.
So, instead of fighting against your NEED for power and not DO anything, or try and count to 3, which doesn’t meet your NEED for power in the moment. You can find something you DO LIKE that meets your need for power in the moment.
You could shout, “I don’t like it!” you could shout out the window. Stomp your foot. I used to breathe out really hard to shift my energy and the song “Let it go!” had a whole new meaning.
You can decide what will work for you. And then you repeat and repeat over and over again until you have a new habit.
Meeting your needs in ways you DO LIKE allows you to make the shift to bigger changes. You will be able replace controlling and managing your child’s behaviour into manage your own behaviour and using the Language of Listening® coaching skills will help your child learn to control their own.