How do I stop shouting at my kids so much?
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A paediatrician who has written a book on nurturing parent-child relationships advises parents on how to shout less and be more tolerant
Lockdown has given families more time together, which is on the whole a good thing – but it can also be a strain on relationships.
It's all too easy for the parent-child relationship, in particular, to descend into a shouting match.
One parent admitted: "I know I shout at my kids too much. How can I discipline them without shouting, and help us all get along better?"
Paediatrician Carlos González, a father-of-three and author of Kiss Me: How to Raise Your Children With Love, says: “Who’s the one shouting all the time? Who’s the one in need of discipline? You’re an adult, you have the experience, the knowledge, the mind balance. You know you shouldn’t do it, but you do. Sometimes, ‘too much’, in your own words.
“Try harder. Try not to shout. Give them orders politely. Police can say, ‘Please, sir, you are not allowed to park here’ without shouting.
“Don’t micromanage. Don’t try to regulate every single aspect of your children’s behaviour, and to point and correct every little deviation. You’re allowed to shout if your children are killing someone, but I’m quite confident your children aren’t killing someone today.
“Most of the time, you don’t need to shout and you don’t even need to talk. As my father used to say, ‘Before you say something stupid, count to 10. And then, don’t say it’. By punishing petty offences, you don’t earn authority, but lose it. Reserve your power for really important issues.
“Learn from your failures. Learn humility and tolerance. If you can fail, they also can. Without the experience, the knowledge or the balance, without knowing exactly what’s right and what’s wrong, they’ll fail. Sometimes, even too much.
“This isn’t a negotiation. This isn’t, ‘I will not shout, and they’ll behave’ or, even worse, ‘When they start behaving, I’ll stop shouting’. You aren’t responsible for your children’s behaviour; you’re responsible for your own. So do the right thing. Be kind, be loving, don’t shout, and don’t expect anything in exchange.
“Enjoy. These are the best years of your life. Your children will grow. Your children will go away. These ‘problems’ of today will be only anecdotes in a few years, and cherished memories in a few decades – if only you can remember yourself smiling instead of shouting.”
- Kiss Me, how to raise your children with love, is published by Pinter & Martin, £9.99.