The Day I Realized I Was Bullying My Kids

This post is brought to you by Playful Learning.

I was being a bully…

I watched the video from Playful Learning Power of Words  with my kids, thinking it would be helpful for them, hopefully help us decrease sibling squabbles.  I didn’t realize I would get an emotional 2×4 to the head as I listened to the description of Put Downs.

A simple way to get out of a yelling cycle

In a Parenting Rut

For most of the summer I had been doing great on not yelling, on enjoying my kids and having a good handle on my anger triggers, but after some emotional upsets and long days alone with the kids I was operating on a short fuse.

In the video, kids describe both verbal and non-verbal Put Downs.  They talk about how Put Downs make us feel.  It’s not like information I don’t know, but suddenly I had an “Oh $#!+” moment as I watched the kids demonstrating Put Downs.  I had been in a foul mood for a couple days – really snapping a lot at the kids, speaking harshly and doing more yelling than I care to admit.

I suddenly saw my own yelling at my kids as a bunch of Put Downs.  It struck me hard.

Stopping your parenting anger Related:Evolution of a Mama Tantrum and How to Stop One

Yelling wasn’t effective teaching.  Yelling didn’t get my point across, nor did it even make me feel better – it made me feel worse.

I had heard my son describe yelling like “being hit”  before.  Here was another analogy for me to reflect on.  My yelling and annoyed/angry voice was a big Put Down on my kids.  Instead of taking care of myself I had been taking out my emotions on my kids,  bullying them because I felt bad.

The tough part is that sometimes kids are….well, really annoying. and button pushing. and limit testing.  And sometimes life happens – you don’t get a break, family tragedies unfold, the dryer breaks, the dog pees on the carpet, you lose sleep.  Sometimes you get into a dark parenting rut, and that’s where I was.  I didn’t really even want to connect with my kids.  I just wanted a break, but one wasn’t coming soon and my kids still needed me.  They didn’t need my Put Downs.

Instead of Yelling - Put Ups for my Kids

Instead of Yelling – Put Ups for My Kids

I had been putting down my kids with my body, my voice, my face.  It made me feel bad, which added to the bad feelings – you know.  I needed out of this horrible cycle.  I decided in those moments when I wanted to snap I would find a way to remind us of who we all wanted to be instead of harping on the bad behavior – Put Ups instead of yelling.

I was really stressed and needed a visual cue to cut out this Put Down behavior in myself, so  I cut out a bunch of bright pink hearts and explained to my kids that I was feeling sad lately and having a hard time being nice and I wanted that to change.  I told them I would give them a heart when I wanted to remind us all that we were kind people and we could treat each other with love.  I gave them a couple hearts in case they wanted to give them out too.

Using Put Ups to Reset

I got a chance to try this out right away.  At the grocery store my six year old tried to shove me aside to get onto the cart.  I bristled wanting to bark a ‘hey! that Was RUDE! You need to SLOW DOWN!!’ type response, but, that’s what he’s been seeing and it hasn’t been working.  He’s simply been imitating the rude voice.

I took a breath remembering the hearts and stopped to kneel beside him.

In a calm voice I said “Hey, that was rude, you just pushed me.  I need you to  treat me kindly.” I handed him a pink heart (visual cue!)  “I know you are kind.  Can you tell me a kind thing you do?”

He thought I wanted to hear something kind about me and said, “Mama, it’s kind when you take us to lunch at the grocery store.”

“Oh, thank you.  And what kind things do you do?”

“I help my sister get out of her car seat.”

“Yes, that’s kind.  I love you.  Are we ready to shop now?”

And with that we were reset and I had not added more fuel to my anger, nor had I added shame to my six year old.  He remembered that he was capable of being kind.

At home I started to flip out about…uhhhh….something I can’t even remember (must have been super important 😉 )….and my oldest waved a pink heart at me, “Mama….remember!!” he said warningly.  Ah, yes, trying to be loving…

Later I interrupted an angry pre-dinner outburst between the boys by giving them both hearts. They didn’t want to stop their argument/play and it took a while for me to get them each to say something kind, (“Nope, when you have said something kind about yourself and your brother THEN you can go play again…”) By the time they were done, they were happy to head away from the crazy mama giving out hearts and play a bit more peacefully in their rooms until dinner was made.

Out of the Anger Rut

The pink hearts only lasted a couple days, but it was enough to get us out of that grumpy resentful space.  The physical reminder of how  we wanted to be acting helped me break that yelling cycle and begin a new positive cycle of imitating kindness rather than yelling. It’s not the perfect be-all-end-all solution to yelling, but it’s a good way to break the cycle.

If you want to stop yelling see these related resources:

If you’d like to check out courses from Playful Learning (affiliate link), I am happy to be able to give CWK readers a special 20% off couponUse the code: CREATIVEWITHKIDS when you check out to get your discount.

Do you ever get in anger or resentment ruts?  What’s your trick for coming out of the dark?

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  1. Helena says

    Thanks for sharing Alissa! I’ve been having mommy tantrums and its hard to admit it! I think to be able to stop the cycle it really helps to admit it and talk about it.

    • says

      Best wishes on stopping that cycle Helena. I really, really know how hard it can be to bring yourself around when you feel exhausted and taken for granted. Sometimes you never know what form help will come in, but usually it does come eventually, whether by your own hand or by others.

  2. Heather says

    Awesome idea! Thanks for sharing! Both mine and my husbands families have long histories of parental yelling. We struggle with this bad habit more regularly than we care to admit. Sometimes it feels like a constant battle but I feel so much better as a parent knowing that I’m not the only one and that others have great tricks and ideas. It helps with the depression that comes with it and gives me that boost of energy to dig out of the ruts and begin new days of no yelling. Thanks!

    • says

      Yes – knowing you’re not alone and continuing to look for the tools that work for you, are both very helpful in stopping the yelling. It’s a process. These kids sure teach us a lot, don’t they?

  3. says

    I think this is really sweet and helpful information. I can really, really related. Wanting to be nice, just need a break, the exhaustion, constant demands, silly fights….it gets overwhelming. I always tell my husband, “I use to be a really nice person, ya know.” I’m going to try the heart thing next week. Hopefully it will help that nice person stay around even in moments of stress.

    • says

      Good Luck Alicia. It definitely wasn’t *perfect* but I think the key for me was that I needed to break my pattern, and since I was in a pretty tired/stressed place I needed a visual as well as a plan for what I would do in the moment when I was feeling angry. The simplicity of having that heart there made me tune in to what I wanted to portray to my kids. And I’m hanging onto the concept of looking at yelling as a put down and that we all learn better through “put ups.”

  4. Diana Blanco says

    Ugh. God is funny. Here I am on Pinterest looking up mindless things to get my mind around how grumpy I am and how unfair my life is and how angry my 3yo makes me and how I don’t want to be an active parent TODAY. Then your link comes up (from who knows where) and I instantly feel like I have an answer. I’m mad because I haven’t taken care of ME. Thanks for the detective work! You’re clever! Lol. Yes. I need to control my emotions. And yes. I need ideas on how to model kindness. 😀

    • Stephanie says

      Totally nailed it! Well said…I found this article while I was wandering around Pinterest as well. Just what I needed to find. Brilliant!

  5. Sandra says

    Hi Alissa,

    I just wanted to thank you for writing and sharing this with us. I have been having a very difficult time lately with my patience and anger. Unfortunately, I have been taking it out on my small children. I feel so guilty and have cried many nights because I feel like I am ruining my children. I needed to read this today and I will definitely be trying your Hearts suggestion. Thanks again!

  6. Tanya says

    Wow, thanks so much-I love your posts. I hate that I have issues controlling my anger, my tone of voice, or mommy tantrums due to my breaking points. I’ve been struggling with unwanted behavior with a 3 & 4 year old (I forget all too often their age and expect too much from them). I know that when they are at their worst they need us to behave our best and be there loving them not disciplining them-it’s difficult for me. I know kids copy us and I have already seen my son behave like me during one of his tantrums (not flattering) and I realized I need to change so he can change too.

    I also love the post “Orange Rhino Alternitives to Yelling”

    My son copying what I say use to make me nuts, then I started saying “I love you…I love you too much…I love you to the moon and back…I love you more than you love me…” and it magically transformed the unwanted behavior and we giggle and everyone was happy. One time he wanted me to know he was copying me and he said it but I just continued until we all were giggling and happy.

    I LOVE giving a heart out idea (i need visual reminders) and being positive to redirect the behavior-I’m going to try this!

    • says

      Yes, the Orange Rhino is great!

      And I really like your giggle causing solution to your son repeating you. Humor works wonders – I need that tattooed to my skin somewhere so I can remember it! I know, for us, once we’ve shaken ourselves out of the anger/defiance and into a more positive and connected place, then my kids are SO MUCH more willing to listen and try and help out.

  7. Cortney says

    What a wonderful idea! I will have to keep this in mind, I love the visual cue!

  8. christine says

    how do i get this thing you watched and will it work for 10-12 year olds who fight all the time and say mean things to each other. i know i sometimes hear myself doing what you said you did.

  9. Carmen Reyes says

    Thanks for sharing! I am a single parent and at times my stress may get the best of me at times. This was very helpful. Thanks again!

  10. says

    Wow, great article! This really hit home! Rough week with hubby being gone a lot and three young kids with no breaks for me was enough to set me off a couple of times. I love the visual que idea!! Thanks for sharing and I hope to add more put up’s to our lives!!

  11. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Put this into practice, ASAP! It seems like every August, I get a little crazy, and my son goes through a huge developmental leap, and everything goes off track. I think this will work really well with him.

  12. Wendy says

    Seriously…I thought I was the only mama in the world who went through stuff like this. Thank you for your honesty and for a constructive way to fix it!

  13. Amanda Patterson says

    Such a great and useful article. I find myself stress yelling more than I would like. Great idea on breaking the ‘habit’

  14. Cheryl Hayes says

    Talk about an answered prayer! I have been struggling with this very issue for some time and have been in prayer for God to help me find joy in my life again. Next thing I know I’m on FB and find this in my news feed! Praise God! Thank you!

  15. Irene Lawson says

    Thank you for sharing Alissa! I’m shocked at how many of us moms are going thru the same stress. It’s overwhelming at times dealing with our children. I tell all the time and feel so guilty after. I’m trying your hearts idea with my 7 yr old son starting TODAY!

  16. says

    Thanks for the post. I sometimes yell at my daughter and I always feel bad about it, but just couldn’t figure out what else to do. Thanks for the tips.

  17. kate says

    Kudos for the honesty and the underlying message that we all make mistakes, we need not be ashamed, we can do better ,and we can help others to do better without shaming them.

  18. Ellen says

    Thanks – so needed this today. I am cutting up hearts tonite to start using tomorrow.

  19. Holly Horst says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It is so easy to get caught up in everyday stress and before you know it the day is over and you’re telling yourself, I’ll try and be better tomorrow. But everyday is one less day you have with your children and it really puts everything into perspective. I’m reading this as I sit here at the hospital with my husband, waiting on the oncologist to call us back for his follow up appointment, and i’m think about my babies who I put on the bus this morning. From one mom to another, how do you deal with the guilt that I’m sure you feel / felt when you yell / yelled at your kids? I find myself feeling an overwhelming amount of guilt that I can’t seem to let go of, but I know I’m not alone in feeling at way. Any advice on how to overcome that feeling and move on?

  20. terina says

    I just want to thank you so much for the advice. I’m a very controlling, yelling, constantly aggitated, and depressed mother. I have come to terms with it and want so badly to change. For an example- today my wonderful two year old son learned how to open the fridge. Now as his mother I should have praised him for learning something new, but instead I was so upset because I knew what was to come. Within one hour he ate a package of string cheese, yogart, two bananas, my chocolate stash, and three pieces of bologna. Mind you to make matters worse my husband laughed and helped him open everything. I was furious! Every two minutes I was yelling at him to close the fridge. So I very much needed to read your page. Thank you again! I will definitely try this tomorrow! My baby is worth it!

  21. says

    Thanks Alissa,
    I love the idea of the heart. Thanks for sharing and being so real. I was a yelling parent when my children were little. I’ve since learned how I can change my own psychology so thos anger buttons don’t get pushed. I would like to share what I learned.
    So to that end I’m holding free live workshops this coming weekend on Becoming a Calm Parent. More info and sign up details here
    I hope it helps someone.

  22. Eve says

    Dear Alissa,
    thank you so much for this lovely insight into your handling the family. I badly needed to read that
    a) it happens to the best moms from time to time and they do feel like i do – all shitty about yelling to the best kid one could ever have
    b) there is a way out.
    My daughter is only 2.5 years old but I´m gonna try this in an adapted way. I badly want her to know that she is loved even when I´m having a bad second (or bad 10 minutes or a shitty week).

  23. alefiya says

    hi. nice idea…dear…i will now try this…the problem wth me is tht i live jointly with another family

    ..where ths mother scolds her children almost for everything…. my daughter gets scared of such high voice …
    i end up scolding my daughter too due to the work stress…
    what to do??

  24. Anita says

    My kids and I do a heart with our hands when needed. Have to admit that we do them quite oft!
    Either we do them when we catch ourselves with being less than nice, or we do them when the other one is doing something that upsets one of us.

    It works! (Mostly… I have teens!) 😉

  25. Hannah says

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately due to the holiday coming up and we are trying to sell our home and buy another, and I find myself being in an “anger rut” and having a short fuse with the kids. It helps just to hear that I am not the only one, so thank you for your honesty! I have two young toddler boys (3 years old and 20 months) my three year old is extremely hyper, stubborn and testy right now, so any moms with suggestions of getting through to that age would be great.

    • says

      Hannah, I feel for you at this difficult time. When a child is extremely hyper, it can be because they are sensitive to certain foods.
      You will have to balance the stress of trying to find out what that is with the stress of her being hyper.
      My youngest daughter is affected by sugar – any sugar, even a little bit as an ingredient. Very hyper. My grandchildren are affected by wheat/gluten. Eliminating this makes a big difference and they are so much easier to handle.
      Just a thought. I hope it helps.
      Oh, and I find that keeping off sugar myself helps me stay calmer.

      • Hannah says

        Wow, thank you I would have never thought of that on my own. I had no idea diet had such an impact, I was just trying different ways to calm him. I will definitely experiment with his diet.

  26. ilse says

    This so awesome and helpful I get angry at my two year old all the time I feel stressed because he still won’t talk all he does is whine about everything. He is still small to understand things and he sure knows how to push my buttons. I wish I could help him understand his feelings and talk instead of throw tantrums

  27. Britt Teel says

    Needed this article more than I can even express in words. I have so many other stresses in my life that any not so nice actions from my 3 year old or 21 month old sets me off. I have begun to hate myself. I want to change. My babies don’t deserve an angry mother due to being stretched thin. I can control this. It was so reassuring to see that I am not alone.

  28. says

    My issue is when I think my son going to hurt himself and I yell to get his attention so he will stop what else can I do without yelling?

  29. PatriciaD says

    One of the VERY best things I ever did for myself and my kids (fosters) was to take the course by Love and Logic. It is so awesome. It teaches you how to talk to your kids (exact words, tone, etc. and you practice it in class) and then you also get CDs to listen to in the car when you’re driving to reinforce. It is so fantastic and you wouldn’t believe the difference in you and the kids.

  30. Mari says

    Thank you so much for your tips, but my main problem is with my 3 and 5 yr old boys my 3 yr old always always make tantrums at stores especially when its time to pay, i have a talk with him before we enter the store of what I want for him to behave like and he agrees but the second we step into the store he seems to forget about our talk :( he goes crazy and wanting to get everything, it gets worst at check out, how can I control this were I could go shopping and he could sit still throughout my shopping? Now my problem with my 5 yr old hes always wining ALL the time fir anything even when I tell him to go change he will wine and say ” why why do you always want me to change” and when hes crying i tell him to be quiet and he screams even harder and louder, he is the middle child but i don’t believe on the middle child syndrome, how can I stop my boy from screaming and whining all the time, i find my self yelling all the time and im just tire of it, than you any tips Will be appreciate it.

    • says

      Hi Mari,
      I can see that your children’s behaviour is frustrating.

      Your 3 year old is developmentally incapable to sticking to the agreement you set before you enter the store. He just cannot control those big emotions. As the saying goes – He’s not “giving” you a hard time, he’s “having” a hard time!

      I’ve found that when we empathise with our children they accept the limitations we set more easily.
      For instance, you could say “I can see that you’re frustrated (or mad or whatever they seem to be feeling) that you can’t have that right now. I can see that it’s really upsetting you but I’m not buying that today.”

      You may find when you first do this that the crying will increase in volume a little but that is a good sign. Your child is feeling heard and will calm down soon if you continue to show him that you understand how difficult it is for him not to have that item.

      Children just want to be heard and they want to know that they are understood. When they know that you are on their side (not by giving into their demands, but by your understanding that they really want it) they will accept that they cannot have it.

      And their tantrums at the store will become less and less (or shorter) as they come to realise that you understand them.

      I know that it’s not always easy to react with empathy when our children are triggering us and we’re getting angry. You may find this article helpful to cope with this problem.

      I hope this helps.

  31. says

    What a innovative way to deal with those yucky parts of parenting we all struggle with. I despise being a yelly Mummy but haven’t been sure how to deal with it. I like the idea of this and might try and tackle it although I’m wondering if my children are slightly too young to understand (3 & 1). What I love most of all about this approach is that the kids also get hearts to give. This definitely indicates to the Mummy when she has stepped over the line. Something I’m sure wouldn’t be realised otherwise.

  32. Tyler and Keili's Mommy says

    This had amazing timing for me, it has been a very reflective day. Anyway, thank You so much for this real life article. I am 26 and on my second round of stay-at-home-mom of two in diapers while nursing, (messy, oh so veeery messy.) Dad works and I am here with a very, strong willed, mechanical and loud 2 year old boy (27 months,) and a very sweet but co-dependant, screaming 7 month old girl. Yelling, mean faces, not so nice wording/words etc are a daily… I definitely realize there is so much room for growth but, I am so glad I can admit this to more than my mom who is helpful, but She was a screamer/flailer (there are 4 of us and all hyper and strongwilled…) either way, this was so helpful just for myself, I feel like I am screwing them up and yes there are wonderful times we have together and one-on-one but it seems like it is moment to moment with these two. So much to say and my phone is dying. I did just want to say thank You!! Ashley

    • Rebecca says

      I’m a stay at home mom of 3 (5 yrs, 3yrs and 20 months) and my husband works various shifts and picks up overtime whenever he can, so very often it’s just me and the kids. Our 5 year old daughter and 20 month old son are very (VERY) strong willed. A book that both my mother and mother-in-law read years ago, because one of my brothers and my husband were strong willed children, was The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson. I just got this book and it’s been updated to The New Strong Willed Child. I just started reading it and have found it very helpful so far. Many of the pages I just read are now highlighted in all kinds of different colors! I hope that it can help you as it has me.

  33. Charlie says

    Thank you! I’m a single mum of 3 & recently my 13 yr old told me I’m an awful mum! I do shout a lot & that was the one thing she asked me to stop doing! I’m full of shame & disappointment at myself & I’ve been trying so hard not to shout for 3 days now, it’s hard but I’m determined to continue & your article was just wat I needed at just the right time xxx

    • says

      Hi Charlie,
      I know you’re not feeling proud of yourself at the moment but I think it’s wonderful that your 13 year old felt able to tell you what she did. I wouldn’t have dared to say anything like that to my mother at all. So you must have done something right – that she wasn’t too cowed to speak out. :-)

      I know how hard it is to be a single parent and it’s not easy to stop shouting using willpower alone. In fact I think it’s almost impossible.

      Something that helped me be calmer when my children were small was eliminating sugar from my diet – I mean any refined sugar in any food that I ate. I noticed a marked change between the times I was sugar free and the times when I had some.
      Sugar is a stressor and creates mood swings and can prevent us from keeping control of our temper.

    • says

      Charlie, sending you love today. You do not have to be perfect to be a good mom. You do not have to never yell at all. The most powerful thing you can do is to love yourself and show yourself compassion as you keep learning. When you feel that shame welling up, maybe you can think of it as a chance to practice being kind to someone in a moment when all you want to do is a heap on anger and guilt. You can be kind to yourself and in that practice, you’ll also be practicing how to be kind when you are at your wits end with your kids. So glad you stopped by. You are loved.

  34. Rebecca Bloom Engelstad says

    The yelling will stop when children start doing what they are told and stop thinking they are owed something! The children are taking over the world because parents DONT step up and be parents. STOP being your child’s friend and START being a parent!

  35. Robyne Irish says

    Children need love and nuturing! Yelling occurs when the parent looses control! We’ve all done it but to suggest it’s the right thing is awful! Perhaps you can learn something from this article Rebecca!

  36. Rebecca Bloom Engelstad says

    No, I have a 3x system. If I have to repeat myself then I yell. I don’t yell right out of the gate but, my kid is 6 he should already KNOW that no means no! If more parents said no more often the world wouldn’t be as screwed up ad it is. I grew up getting yelled. We lived on a farm you worked from a very young age. You learned to get it right the first time or you suffered through the yelling. I turned out just fine, as I’m sure my kid will too.

  37. Rebecca Bloom Engelstad says

    No Robyne Irish, I don’t think so. I love and nurture my kid just as much as any non yell parent. We spend 100% of our time together as previously stated…I don’t yell right away. If I have said no and explained why I said no then ur gonna get yelled at.

  38. Rebecca Bloom Engelstad says

    And not ONCE did I say it was the “right” thing to do. Just to clarify.

  39. Creative With Kids says

    The exciting thing as I move out of yelling being an acceptable way to get my needs met is that I see my kids, my husband, even my mom following and learning more effective communication methods. It’s a longer process, but over time were getting better at asking for what we want, knowing our own limits, upholding consequences…it’s more complicated than a phone keyboard Facebook post allows, but I know we can parent effectively, not permissively and do so without yelling.
    (Well, I’m pretty danged imperfect, so with a minimum of yelling.)

  40. Fern Warren says

    I love this so much! Thank you for this! I love it so much, that I have shared it on my ‘The Grateful Mummy” facebook page and will also make sure I tell people about it on blog too and spread the word. You are amazing to open up and share about something so vulnerable, you inspire me! Thank you for opening up to help so many others!

  41. Kate Lees says

    I think this is great. I want to teach my kids respect and boundaries, but I also want to teach them effective communication skills and how to recognize and deal with different emotions. I need to lead by example, and I’m not doing it. I’m going to try something like this. Thank you.

  42. Edu Art 4 Kids says

    I found that I learned on my oldest. She was my guinea pig unfortunately and my youngest (of 6) really benefited from my mistakes. You should know that even though I really yelled a lot at this oldest, SHE is the most amazing mom. So don’t get too down if you’ve yelled too much, its never too late to change and you never know how its going to affect your kids in the long run.

  43. Lucie says

    I’m sorry but unless your whole family is a bit “free spirited” than a normal child will soon start thinking that his mom is some kind of a crazy cookoo hippie waving pink hearts around instead of disciplining and explaining boundaries. Yes, she stopped a scene and stopped herself from yelling in the shop but did she ever explain that shoving a mom, or anyone else for that matter, is just not acceptable and will not be tolerated, ever (which it shouldn’t!)? No, she skipped this part…
    And to stick up for the yelling parents. I do understand that it’s bad when we yell at the little monsters because we are simply already in a foul mood but how about making a video where parents explain how they feel when their kids are being horrible for no particular reason, how about those up downs?! I’d make kids watch that 😛
    But, of course, don’t shout if you don’t really have to :)

    • says

      Hahaha, you cracked me up. I suppose this definitely can be read in that tone and seem like I am a heart waving hippy (though if you met me I wouldn’t seem that way.) My kids get boundaries. The tricky thing about describing situations with kids in a blog post is that I am not always able to convey the whole picture, and once something is posted it’s out there. The hearts were used in our family for a day or two to get us on a different track, not permanently. I think the main thing they worked for is that I was completely FRIED at this point in time and more yelling/shouting/anger was just making things worse. I needed to try something off the wall as a way to interrupt the cycle. Thanks for stopping by :)

      • Lucie says

        :) The point is – don’t shout at your kids if you don’t have to. And yes, if you are in a foul mood, it’s not fair to take it out on them. On the other hand, we all have kids so WE KNOW! Moms, don’t beat yourself up, it happens to the best of us :) We understand and know you are trying. Just don’t feel bad… And the little monsters WILL survive! 😉

        • says

          RIGHT! And now I am tempted to write a blog post called “The little monsters will survive.”
          (Who is generally very earnest, but less serious/heartyhippy than she comes off as in some of her blog posts) 😉

          • Lucie says

            Can’t wait to read that one! Can tell already it will be my cup of tea 😉

  44. Alison Loveday says

    Thinking that not yelling enough is the reason ‘the world is screwed up’ is just bizarre. Yelling is a loss of control – not the way to assert it!

  45. Rebecca Bloom Engelstad says

    I didnt say that more yelling was going to “save” the world. what I said was “if more parents became a parent instead of friends the world would be a better place!” AND if more firmness were to be spoken after a 3 strike system the child will get it. you DONT need to yell all of the time and it certainly is NOT a first resort in this house BUT occasionally a louder voice is necessary.

  46. Rachel says

    reading this blog post put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
    thank you thank you for writing this.
    tomorrow’s a new day right? the first day of the rest of our lives?

  47. says

    It’s so hard when you really need a break and just can’t get one. I can relate. I love this idea and think I might try it when things start getting to exhausting or grumpy around here. Sometimes we all just need a little redirection and a new perspective so we can keep going.

  48. says

    I we’ll never yell that my grandson I love my grandson and I am the worst one to yell but I am going to brook that God we’ll be with me

  49. Mary says

    Hi i wrote a post couple weeks ago i have 3 boys, 10,4 and 3 my husband is a truck driver so we only get to see him once a week so u all can see that its always my boys and me so even if i do need that space or a break from my kids i cant because i cant just push them away they are my boys and they are mu reaponsibility but my big issue and still is that theres always screaming and yelling at my house, if its not one kid its the other one my two youngest are the ones that are always pushing my buttons and saying “your mean” I hate you” when i dont buy or give them what they want it breacks my heart that me as a mom cant controll my own kids and ita embarrasing when i go out and my two little ones are running like little animals all over the store and screaming its so embarrasing any tips on how i can keep my boys next to me and be able to have a nice quiet shopping day without the screaming and yelling at the midle of the store? Help
    And if i go doen to their level and tell them to be quiet its like i tell them ” keep running and screaming” they get worst after i tell them to stop :( please any advise will help.

  50. Cher says

    Bless your heart for being so absolutely honest with yourself and more so for sharing it with the world through your post. Parenting is tough. That’s it. Tough. Parents are human and flawed and what we do in error is usually with the highest of intentions, but yes, we fall short. We pick ourselves up, apologize ( such a great lesson in itself to model for our children) and continue with the cycle of asking for forgiveness and bestowing it. Such is love, unconditional love.

  51. Gloria Ransom says

    So many parenting helps at would have been great to have when raising my kids. Did the best I could with the tools I had, but I can look back and see so many ways I could have reacted better, and wish I could have do overs.

  52. Lisa Burnham Bakowski says

    Thank you for posting this. I’m in a rut right now and fighting my way out. I love this reminder!

  53. Creative With Kids says

    Good work Amanda McKeown :) It’s a good start to moving out of a bad cycle – sometimes we need that ray of hope before we can move forward, right? :)

  54. Creative With Kids says

    I think we all have those moments throughout life – I know I do. It’s always easier to look back and correct ourselves than it is to give ourselves grace in this moment.

  55. Caroline Gardiner Was Pullen says

    I’m in this kind of situation with my daughter who is almost 3, how can I apply something like this to her because she still doesn’t quite understand what kind means or why we tell her to do certain things such as out a coat on because it’s cold which gets frustrating when we have to leave and it’s freezing outside etc? I just seem to be constantly shouting at her at the mo

  56. Ann Rushton says

    I am thankful for this post and everyone who commented. It makes me feel understood and like it’s not just me. Bless us all.

  57. Merje Shaw says

    Re: coats and the cold outside- nothing makes a toddler wear a coat faster than feeling cold so I have been known to take the coat with me and the refusing toddler and dress him just outside the front door. Saves arguing with a little monkey :)

  58. genkat says

    Now can you write something about the “spanking” and how this physical abuse works and ways to change it for the better ?

  59. Michelle McMullin says

    Wow – I needed this so badly right now. Perfect timing – thank you!

  60. Kelly Conklin says

    I think I might take the hearts and hang them up where I can see them everyday. Visual reminders.

  61. Chelsea H. Artigliere says

    I feel like 90% of your posts are posted at the exact moment I need to read them. Thank you. ??

  62. Rhonda Copas says

    I’m gonna try this…granted my oldest is four and youngest are two lol maybe my four year old will catch the hang of it :)

    • Vanessa says

      Did it work for you?! My two girls are also 4 and 2, I’ll be trying this from tomorrow!

  63. Dawn Robinson says

    The article is nice, but I wish these parenting sites stop making people feel bad because we are human. Geez, sometimes parents yell, sometimes kids are annoying, sometimes parents can’t take the annoyance at the moment it happens and sometimes kids “bully” parents too. It’s life. We’re humans. Not perfect. Why aren’t any tips given to parents about when kids bully the parents? You know, “mom, I want to go there, I want this, I want that NOW, I’m not doing that, I’m not going there, I’m not eating that” the list goes on and on…sometimes there is no room for compromise and it is what is…where are tips on how to handle? It’s always tips on how “bad parents” can change because we are in fact the root of all evil…smh…

    • Christine says

      Dawn, sounds like you could really use this advice right now. It’s not just about trying to get your kids to act right for you, it’s about shaping who they will become. If you want your kids to be the yelling, bullying kind of kids SOMETIMES they probably will. Some of us want better.

  64. Akua Serwaa Ababio says

    So so interesting to read all the opinions here. Just this Friday whilst I was dropping my children to school, the issue of parents and teachers came up in our conversation. My 7 year old daughter thought her teacher is the best because she allows her to have her way. But you mummy ….you like saying you are not allowed to do this or that. This got me thinking.. so I said to your mother and the best I can do for you is teach you to learn to do the right things so you don’t get into trouble then you can be a happy child. She said to me “but mummy some happy children do get bullied by big people too…yes they are like big bullies” I ask why do say that ..”yes they make you do the things you don’t want to do”. Wow I thought in my mind this conversation needs to continue so we can help ourselves to understand lot of things . I have thought of a mother and daughter day out . Let not forget that she is not aware of the feedbacks I get from her teacher …hahaha

  65. Tiffany Norwood says

    This article is very true. I have to remember to tell myself to stop yelling and nagging so much. This reminds me of my mother and I hated it when she did that to me when I was younger.

  66. Melissa DeGroff says

    I know someone who should read this. Unfortunately, she would never even admit that she does this. Sad.

  67. Monica Brownnutt says

    Absolutely. Kids can be tyrants and we are human. We need to learn to forgive ourselves.

    • Christine says

      Nobody is persecuting parents in this article. If you feel guilty or angry when reading it, most likely you are a yeller. It really does affect a person’s (not just kid’s) self esteem when they are yelled at a lot. We are not talking about a utopia people, just learn to communicate nicely and effectively when something is bothering you, whether it is with your kids or another adult.

  68. Angela Benvenuto Raimondo says

    I just use it as a way to keep myself accountable. We can always strive to be better, and since this is the hardest job, I take it seriously and read things like this as a way of research, or just keeping it fresh in my brain. I am a yeller but I never feel like these articles are saying I’m a bad parent. It is just a way of helping us get better. I still yell from time to time, it’s just a matter of forgiving ourselves and apologizing to our children and showing them that we are imperfect and can make mistakes too. My two-year-old now apologizes for things because she’s seen me do it after yelling.

    • Lisa Palmer says

      the link didn’t work for me. just google “playful learning power of words” and it will come up. it’s a 7 min youtube video. :)

  69. Tricia Valek says

    I noticed my yelling causes the behavior that drives me nuts. Thanks for reminding me not to be such an ego centered bully.

  70. Stacy Nerren says

    The article wasn’t trying to make parents feel like they have to be perfect. The point was take a moment to think before u speak. My children speak kindly to me because I do the same to them. They need our time and consistency. Yes I have yelled before-but the result I get from being calm and loving is much more rewarding:-)

  71. Salty McNair says

    The world is going to bully them, why not learn about it from someone that loves them. Little ingrates gotta learn somewhere.

    • Christine says

      Are you adding to the world’s problems with that attitude or making it a better place?

  72. Sae DeAnne says

    I agree! I do use these as reminders though. I do still yell from time to time, cause yeah I’m human! But I always apologize to my kids and I think they appreciate it and imitate it as well. They often apologize for yelling, tantrums..etc..

  73. Irene Hackett says

    Parents do it to children all th e time I sometimes have to leave supermarkets because its so upsetting hearing how some people speak to impressionable young children I don’t know why they have children if they don’t like them!

  74. Nia Veg says

    When kindness and compassion are choices of the majority, not just the minority, these parenting sites will stop reminding people to fix their own flaws.

  75. ElishevaWeyersHall says

    Wow.. just wow.  For the last couple of years ( I have 3 children, 16 months to 5), I’ve been feeling like things have got to change.. its just one ball of chaos after the other, and I know it has to start with me.. but wasn’t sure where or how I needed to change things.  Ive just recently stumbled upon positive parenting and I know this is what needs to happen in my family.  It hurts ya know when you realize the chaos, the anger and negative behaviors from your children are just a way of them showing you, how much of a bully you really are.  Thank you so much for this article.

  76. Funnermother: Let's get fun says

    I realize I’ve slipped back into some…. loud-ish habits. Thank you!

  77. says

    This was a great read! We will be happy to share this to our friends on social media and everyone in the Learning Differences World community! – Sometimes we all need a little reminder to be kind!

  78. Eileen says

    Totally backfired… I bought some heart stickers last night, gave some to my kids (5 and 2 yo girls), told them that when they feel like blowing up they should give a heart and ask kindly, and I will do the same (2yo just wanted to play with the hearts). Went pretty well last night, though the 5yo thought that if she takes the time to give a heart and ask nicely, she will get what she wants, and if she doesn’t, then she has a tantrum anyway. But this morning, when I asked her not to yell and scream at me for suggesting she get dressed for school, she asked, “But how will I get a heart, then?” So now she wants to misbehave so I have to refrain from yelling and give her a heart. Any modification suggestions, or should I abandon this tactic?

    • Christine says

      No behavior modification will work once. However, you have to be aware that every child is different and what works for one may not for another. Problem solve here. Regarding your daughter. She sounds as though she is the kind of kid who needs positive reinforcement (stickers, heart, hugs) when she is good as opposed to the hearts or extra attn. (good or bad) when she is naughty. Perhaps isolation in the corner (time out) when naughty (be consistent and keep putting her back when she defies), and notice and call out when she does well. This should put you guys in the right direction. Good luck!

  79. says

    Wow! I just had one of those oh $%#€ moments. I definitely yell at my kids often, I am really realizing that it’s me and not them. I love this method I am going to do it for sure. So glad for Pinterest to come across your site. Thanks for this awesome post!


  80. Jess says

    So, generally I agree that it’s good to take a step back and not just project all the time. Whether at your kids, spouse, family members, etc. However, yelling is not bullying. Let me say this again for emphasis in a format that doesn’t allow yelling– yelling is not bullying. Being “mean” as a parent is sometimes your job. And a rise in your voice is a natural sign that the person listening should pay more attention. You don’t need to be unnecessarily harsh, but avoiding all unpleasantness or natural social cues creates young adults who think a boss yelling at them is the end of their world. You are also preparing your child for the world, in which criticism is standard, and it would be great if all feedback could be positive, but that’s not realistic or healthy in the long run.

    • says

      Hi Jess,
      Yeah, I agree that not all yelling is bullying, but trust me, from what I can remember of the time when I wrote about this incident (This was written three or four years ago) I was bullying in the sense that I wasn’t taking responsibility for my own emotional health and reactions. This kind of yelling I was doing was me venting/releasing my feelings inappropriately. It was definitely a cycle I needed to break out of. Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading!


      • Lindy says

        This has been the article I’ve been waiting for!! I needed this. Such a brilliant read, and I feel like I now have some new tools to help me save my sanity, and at the same time be able to remind my children how much I love and care for them and that I can understand their big feelings and that We can work through them together .. Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou xxx

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