Getting Better Behavior Without Yelling

Guest post submitted by Sharon Silver of Proactive Parenting

Intro: I’m proud to welcome Sharon Silver to Mommy Perks as a guest author. This is Sharon’s very first time writing for another site. Thank you for taking the time, Sharon, and thanks for your helpful tips below!

Getting Better Behavior Without Yelling

Sharon Silver

Sharon Silver of Proactive Parenting

Have you ever heard yourself saying, “If you don’t do …  now, then you can’t do such and such?” As soon as the words leave your mouth you watch the kids dig in their heels and refuse to cooperate.

You know there’s a better way to phrase things, but you’re exhausted and have even begun fantasizing about running away from home. We’ve all been there.

Before you pack your bags let me share one possible reason why parents feel like they have to resort to threats and yelling in order to get kids to listen, and suggest a way to change things.

Young children tend to gravitate to where they experience the most energy. When a parent yells, he or she exudes a great deal of energy and wait for it … attention.

Think about it from a child’s point of view. What do you do when you yell? You stop what you’re doing, you turn around, you lock eyes with your child and you focus all of your words on him. That’s a bunch of attention!

Why do children gobble up that kind of attention? Children use child-like reasoning to understand their world. They’re like a blank slate learning things for the first time. Their immature reasoning misinterprets misbehavior as a good way to get my parent’s focused attention—even though they’re yelling. The child knows there are better ways to get mom and dad’s attention, but since parents are busy, and kids are hungry for attention, a child is willing to take the focused attention from misbehavior.

No, I’m not going to suggest that you ignore a child’s bid for attention; I think that’s mean. What you can do is repeatedly shift where your child gets parental attention.

Refocus on Getting a Better Result
Instead of saying things like, if you don’t do this now, which sounds like a threat to a child, consider shifting your focus, attention and words to the end result, what your goal for the situation is—rather than focusing on what he’s not doing.

Here’s an example.

Old way: “Why can’t you get dressed on time so I don’t have to yell at you?!”

New way: “Thanks for getting dressed before we left.”

It will be hard, but try to refrain from negative comments, yelling or saying hurry up, even if it takes your child an hour to get dressed. Remember you’re teaching your child that she can get getting attention from positive feedback instead of getting attention from misbehavior.

To further show her that positive attention comes from cooperation and listening make one positive comment for each step of the getting dressed process.

An example would be:

Old way: “Are you kidding me, you only have one sock on!”

New way: “One sock down, one to go!”

3 Ways to Make It Easy on Yourself

1. Make sure you have no plans to be anywhere before you do this. Get book to read while you’re waiting for your child to get dressed.

2. Make sure you’re in the mood to withstand any whining or crying your child may do to try and gain some attention.

3. Hang in there. In order for a child to make the switch from expecting more attention from misbehavior than from cooperating, you need to do this repeatedly. Young children learn from repetition, so one time won’t do it.

Sooner, rather than later, your child will see how much better it feels to get attention from cooperating than it did to be yelled at.

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Author Bio:

Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding and the Skills e-class. Visit to download two free chapters from her book and learn about other Proactive Parenting programs. Find Sharon on Twitter and Facebook.

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