People often ask me, “How do I stop shouting at my kids?”. Most of the time as parents we know that we shouldn’t be shouting at our kids all the time, but well it feels impossible. That seems to be the only way to get things done. Specially when our kids test our limits, we have no other option but to shout.
Just because shouting at our kids get us results in the moment, we tend to forget that it’s a temporary solution and will never work in the long run. Shouting takes both you and your child into fight/flight mode, while releasing cortisol which is the stress hormone. Research suggests that shouting at your children often, reduces the bond you develop with your children. Your children will fear you, but they may stop sharing their feelings with you. So even though your kid may obey and listen to you in that moment, and your brain is tricked into thinking, “OH! This works! This seems to be an effective strategy!”, but in the long run you lose that connection with your children.
Not only that, but we are not really teaching our children anything. They will repeat the same action again, and it more often than not leads parents to a guilt trip.
We are accustomed to repeating it each time our children don’t listen to us. We don’t even have to stop to think. There is decades of mental programming ingrained into us, saying that this is effective and the way to go.
From the moment our children develop communication skills, and start their tantrums, we become accustomed to shouting at our children to get things done, without actually trying to connect with them first, and this pattern continues all through their teenage years, and sometimes even to adulthood.
So what do we do ? If our brains are wired in a certain way and we just can’t help it ?
It’s simple but again not so simple.
We need to change these neural pathways, which is not easy because you are undoing decades of doing ! But with enough practice you can form new neural pathways.
You can change the outcomes without actually having to think about it. Imagine a scenario where you have lost it at your kid, but instead of shouting your brain tells you to be calm, connect with them first, figure out the situation and then respond instead of reacting, and all this happening subconsciously, with minimal effort from your end. Yes ! It is very much possible. What we are doing is just reversing the situation. Earlier, we were reacting subconsciously and now we are responding subconsciously.
Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. The next time you are in a similar situation just remind your self. I am going to be calm. I am going to try and understand what’s going on here before I respond. This is the first step. Once you have applied this for a few days, you will already see some change. Then there are several other tools and strategies that can assist you in your journey towards changing those neural pathways.