I Need to Figure Out How Stop YELLING! Help!

Updated on May 19, 2011
3.C. asks from Salt Lake City, UT
16 answers

One of my biggest weaknesses unfortunately has been coming abruptly to my attention lately. I would like to blame it on having difficult children, but I would be dishonest if I didn't realize and admit that I it really is my own fault. I all too often resort to yelling at my children when they are not being obedient, and I'm embarrassed to admit I even yell at my husband when I'm frustrated with him (which causes big yelling matches in front of our kids...which I totally hate!). Maybe yelling at my kids and my husband are two separate problems, I'm not really sure. All I know is I have to overcome this weakness because I don't like the person I'm turning into when I'm frustrated, and I am so sad to think of how negatively it has already affected my children and my relationship with my husband. My Mom called me out on it last week when she was visiting, and she said "all of the fights I've seen you and your husband have start with you yelling at him about something." That was hard to hear. But I had to step back and let go of my pride, and reflect honestly. She was right, for the most part I usually am the cause of most of the arguments with my husband. Granted he could do better at not doing the things that he knows will make me mad, but still I know I need to react better no matter when he does. I also yell at my kids because they simply don't obey when I ask them to do something or if they are fighting with each other, etc. The problem is I don't know how to stop myself from yelling, because usually I yell after being "worked up"about something and my emotions are high and I don't have time to think it through. It's just a reaction. So it almost feels impossible to overcome. But I really really want to fix this problem!

Have any of you had this same problem and actually totally overcome it? if so, how did you do it? I really need help. Thanks!

p.s. neither of my parents were yellers, so this is not a bi-product of how I was raised. My parents are both very good at staying calm with each other and with their children (unless there is a huge problem, but it's very rare). So really it only makes me more confused on how I let myself become this way.

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So What Happened?

Wow, I really appreciate the time you all have taken to send such fantastic answers to my question! Thank you for each of your supporting words. They truly mean a lot to me. It gives me hope that I can overcome this problem when I hear all of your experiences. I think I will print these all out and try one thing at a time until I figure out what works for me. You're all wonderful! Thank you so much! And if any of you feel so inclined will you pray for me to be able to fix this? I need all the help I can get! :)

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answers from Phoenix on

2 books: "How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk" by Faber and Mazlish and "She's gonna blow" Real help for moms dealing with anger by Julie ann Barnhill

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answers from Fort Wayne on

My husband was a yeller when we first had kids, and I hated it. I got onto him and he fixed it. Then...I became the yeller!? Weird, right?! So I went to counseling bc I hated who I had become. He (counselor) advised me to think ahead...for example: I most often yelled when the kids came home from school and it was homework, dinner, bathtime, reading, bedtime, etc. So he recommended that before going to get the kids from school I take some quiet time and think about my evening and how I wanted it to go. I didn't want to yell, I wanted to get through their homework without all the craziness, and I wanted to be a fun mom and not "negative nancy" all the time... I have gotten a lot better. My husband reminds me when I get grouchy (and I have noticed that when I am hungry/my blood sugar drops I get super grouchy!). It has really helped, as silly as it sounds! The other big thing the couselor had me do was say "I'M SORRY" when I would yell and it wasn't appropriate. It was sooooo hard at first...but it will hold you accountable. It has most definitely worked for me! Good luck!

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answers from Redding on

My mom yelled...a lot! I swore that was one thing I would never do!!! Yeah right. I try really hard and I have good days and bad.

Here is a little trick I used for a while (my daughter was 3 at the time and I had a 1 year old as well). This may seem silly, but it worked.

When my daughter would be in a bad mood and not listening or having an attitude. I would wipe my hand by her cheek (taking away the bad "tude" as we called it) and I would reach into my pocket and give her a new (nice) one. She would take it and wipe it on her face. It was our little "lighten up the air" type thing. so, on to my yelling:
I got to a point where enough was enough and I needed a way to stop in the moment. So I sat my daughter down and I told her that I didn't like to yell and that it wasn't nice and I was veyr sorry for doing it. Then I gave her a special gift, "mommy's quiet voice" to keep in her pocket. I explained how it was for when mommy was yelling, I asked her to take it out and give it to me when needed, just like I did for her.

This worked really well for a long time (we kind of outgrew it after a while). It was that reality check that I needed. I can't say that I liked her taking out the quiet voice and handing it to me, I would be so embarrassed for myself, but it really helped. A lot!

If your kids are older or you don't want to try that, you could also try just taking a deap breath and telling them that you need a moment.

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answers from Dallas on

I teach communication at a university, including conflict resolution skills. Here are two suggestions that have worked wonders for some people:

1--"The Total Turnaround Program" by James Lehman (not sure of the spelling) on CD's give parents tools for getting kids to behave without yelling. It mostly trains parent in how to train non-compliant kids. I've listened to the entire program and it has valuable strategies for dealing with anyone, not just kids.

2--If your cell phone can record sound (or videos, because that includes sound), leave it on all the time and keep it with you. Force yourself to listen (privately) after you've yelled. It can help you recognize specific things to work on. Low tech method, with or without recording: Imagine having all
your friends watch you all day. How would you behave in front of them? (ouch!) If you can control it in front of them, you can learn to control it in front of your husband and kids.

You are to be admired for admitting this problem and seeking help. That means that you are strong enough to overcome it. :)

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answers from Honolulu on

Well at least you can look at yourself and recognize that.

It just takes, mentally and consciously trying not to do that.
Count to 10, before you start yelling.
Excuse yourself from the situation, before you start yelling etc.
Do what will remind yourself, not to do that.

But well, stress and constantly being 'on' once having kids, can really erode a Mom's patience.
Me included. :)
I have my moments too.

Do you get any breaks or time off or me time???
If not, time to tell your Husband and PLAN yourself, some time off. Even put it in the calendar. Then tell your Husband of your schedule.
Then just go, and do it.

Or do you get PMS? This can make woman's tolerance, nil.

Then, you need to talk with your Husband, tell him you know this about yourself and will try to improve.
It is not fair for everyone to walk on eggshells, around you... because of your yelling and what not.
But you know that.
You are recognizing your need to do self-improvement.

Or like my Husband does with me... when he knows, I am at my low threshold... he will tell me a cue word. Essentially, a word that will not irk me more and let me know that I need to take a BREATH. AND then, he will.... actually tell me I am doing TOO much and to take a rest. Because, he knows I am a person that is always going going going... and doing doing doing. Not that he is a perfect help... but he tries. Sometimes more than others. So that helps too.

Just stay, cognizant of yourself. Practice using a different tone of voice too. When you are mad, talk slower.... breathe.... lower your pitch. Don't just be a reactor. Think before talking. Don't be impulsive... in your reaction..... breathe.... talk slower.... or walk away and calm down first.
Collect yourself.

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answers from Dallas on

I'm not a yeller, but there are times I have lost my cool, and I've been able to pinpoint some things that contribute to it:

Are you getting enough sleep? I notice I do much better when I have enough sleep. If I don't, and combined with the ideas below, I have a much harder time dealing with my feelings. It's only part of the problem, though, as I often don't get enough sleep! But it makes life SO much easier to be well rested.

Do you spend very much one on one time with you kids? Not that you have to be one on one with them individually - just with all of them and you, with you not being distracted by anything else. Are you giving them a lot of focused time? Something like playing in the playroom with them, watching them play and interacting that way where you are having happy talking time (or however old they are - whatever would be age appropriate for you to do with them). I find that when I get too occupied with my own things, I am prone to be more impatient with them. If I make sure to spend a nice amount of time with them interacting, it's much easier to stay calm with them.

Also, I'd look into a different type of parenting style. I really like Positive Parenting by Jane Nelsen. She has several books, and you can find them on Amazon (and other places). But it's a completely different approach, and you stay calm. She teaches you how to think things through much differently and to approach things in a less punishment type of what with your kids. But you still discipline them, so it's not spineless parenting. It's much more effective in my opinion! My kids behave really well and are very thoughtful, caring little kids who don't act out much.

I notice when I am going through a grumpy phase and am impatient with them more often (like you're explaining), they are much more difficult. I really think the parents hold the power to behavior. You just have to figure out what to do...and it can be maddening. It's obvious you are a good, loving mother. For me, learning the positive parenting approach was what I needed. I highly recommend it!

good luck & hugs.

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answers from Williamsport on

I think it's great you realize it's not OK.

I vowed not to be a yeller, but most of all to have good discipline and to catch behaviors as they start so I never become angry. No one is perfect, so once in a blue moon I yell, and when I do, the kids are SHOCKED.

It just takes self control. If the kids are starting to fight, you have two choices:

1) You can tell them to quit 7 times until you're mad and then yell. Or you can yell right away because you're mad they're fighting again.


2) You can warn them ONCE in a normal tone of voice not to fight, and then enforce discipline the second time you ask.

They will learn to listen the first time, and they will learn to control themselves faster. You will never be mad, because things won't escalate.

I have done this with my kids since they were 18 months old, and now at 5, 3 and 2, they all stop on a dime with one or two warnings. If I yell, it's because they're far away or I'm stressed in general, but it's rare and I'm never mad at them. Sometimes, I have to ask myself why I feel annoyed BEFORE yelling. Often it doesn't even have to do with them. If it is something they're doing, I'll force myself to break it down into a few rational directions, and discipline if necessary.

It takes practice, but you don't want to be a constant source of abrasive annoyance to your kids as they get older. Good work wanting this to change.

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answers from St. Louis on

design a reward chart for yourself....only the family members can also give you stickers. I know it sounds stupid, but enlisting their help will aid you in recognizing triggers for you.

At the end of each week, reward yourself with a pre-set treat....a bubble bath, a nail job, an hour to yourself, etc!

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answers from Provo on

One way to stop yelling is to realize that you are taking the few facts about the situation which you have observed, are creating a negative story about these facts, and then you are reacting emotionally to this concocted - and usually wrong - story, resulting in your yelling. With that realization comes the concept that you do not know all of the facts and that there might be a different, much more benign explanation for the few facts that you do know, If you knew the full story, it would probably not be such a negative story, and you would not react to it so negatively. In short, you are, most of the time, probably yelling about something that didn't actually happen the way you thought it did or for the reasons you thought it did, making the yelling totally inappropriate.

The best way I know of is to stop the yelling is by stopping the negative emotional reaction. Do this by (a) noting the few facts that you do know, (b) consciously acknowledging that you do not know the whole story, and (c) consciously deciding to wait to react emotionally to the problem until you have all of the facts. Then, calmly find out the facts. Do it later, after you have cooled down, if necessary. By the time you have a chance to sort out the facts, you will probably not have any reason to yell.

BTW, my husband and I have been together over a year now and neither of us has ever yelled at the other. We both use this methodology.

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answers from Tucson on

When was the last time you had some "me" time? You sound like you just need a breather to get away from it all (the hubby and the kids)? Or you all need a vacation. As it is gnerally getting warmer a weekend camping or something similar may help to calm you all down.

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answers from Los Angeles on

TRUST ME, you are not the only who feels this way. I agree with Carol, how about some you time?? This always helps me although I seem to only get it when I'm about to have a nervous breakdown! When I find myself screaming constantly, I honestly stop and have a damn drink. Horrendous I know! ;) I've had one as early as 10 am. Its not like I get drunk but hey if it helps me stop yelling at my kids then so be it. And maybe no be so hard on yourself if something isn't done. If the kitchen is a mess or laundry not done for a day then fine. Have a "I don't care" day and do nothing but play and be silly with your kids.

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answers from Provo on

"for time and all eternity" by John L Lund, is a great lecture series, seminar. It talks about unmet expectations, content communicating, language spouses should use to each other and to their children, love languages, introverts/extroverts, owning your words, and being accountable. And much much more.
Your sentence "Granted he could do better at not doing the things that he knows will make me mad, but still I know I need to react better no matter when he does", gives me a big clue that this would be a great thing for you two to listen to. You are ready for MORE in your marriage then just living together, you need the next step, good COMMUNICATION.
I used to feel that way about my husband too. Like ,"If he loved me, he would know", or "If he loved me I wouldn't have to tell him" or If he really loved me, he would keep asking me whats wrong until he finally dragged it out of me"
As with your sentence, "if he loved me enough he would know not to do the things that make me mad"
But we all have to realize that it is hard to remember every expectation that everyone has. So kind reminders with adult to adult language is necessary between spouses.
Something you could use instead of yelling is, "Honey it would mean a lot to me if you would...." or "I would appreciate it if you would..."(ie "call me when you are going to be late")
This way you are stating your expectation, he doesn't have to guess and because you stated it so respectfully he most likely will remember :)
For the kids, a phrase like, "I have asked you to (blank) once, now this is your warning, or you will have to (blank)."
It helps if you set up consequences for disobedience and for violating rules, ahead of time.
I also have a reward system for "first time obedience". Then all I have to say is "first time obedience please". If they do what I ask they get to put a penny in their jar, which gets them closer to their reward.
If I have to say "this is your warning" then they don't get a penny, but they don't get a reward. If they still don't listen then I state what they were supposed to do, and the consequence that they now get to do. Sometimes its time out, sometimes its do more work, sometimes it take a penny out.
Really it is just about training you, they will catch on pretty fast if you are consistent. For the first little while, I wrote the phrases I wanted to say on a paper and hung it on the fridge. And referred to it when I felt myself losing it. Now it comes pretty naturally. And they listen and respond way better to those calmly stated phrases, then to my yelling. (which only makes me look like a crazy woman acting like a 3 year old:) )
These things have really helped me keep my cool and not resort to yelling.
Hope they can be helpful to you too,
good luck

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answers from St. Louis on

First, kudos to you for recognizing you have this problem and for being receptive to your mother's feedback. That's a big step. Second, as a child of parents who yelled at each other a lot, I encourage you to actively work to manage your anger. My parents' yelling scared the hell out of me as a kid. I would hide from them. And now it's very hard for me to deal with anger. When my son yells at me, I get very scared. I recommend a book called When Anger Hurts: Quieting the Storm Within, 2nd Edition by Matthew McKay, Peter D., Ph.D. Rogers and Judith McKay. It's a good one!

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answers from Denver on

I'd like to recommend that the first thing you do is invest in or check out of the library the book "Love and Logic". I come from a rather abusive background and when we started fostering special needs children I was completely out of my element. The very last thing those children needed was to be spanked or yelled at so this book saved my life. It also made things easier on my husband as it taught both of us how to be more respectful to each other as well as the kids.
I still have a moment now and again when I slip up and yell at someone but because it happens so seldom now it is more effective and they immediately alter their course and fix the behavior whereas before when I yelled about everything I didn't even show up on their radar.
Another thing you might consider is a good check up at your doctor. You may be over stressed or depressed and need a little help in that area. You have to take care of yourself to do a good job taking care of everyone else.

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answers from Denver on

I agree that the first, most important step is self-awareness. Kudos to your mom for being brave enough to say what she was seeing and for you for being open enough to listen.

When I had a yelling issue when my children were little I too realized that it was about me and not the children and that what I was doing was extremely destructive. There were two things that saved me at that time. One was taking a parenting class and reading 1-2-3 Magic and Parent Effectiveness Training. They gave me tools to support me in finding effective forms of discipline. They also helped me be aware that my emotional state was what was really causing the discipline issues in our home.

I then learned to take "mommy time-outs" and to anger journal. At first, this was extremely difficult to implement. I would find myself realizing I was screaming my fool head off after I was deep into it. But, I would still stop and take the time to go in my room and pour out on paper how awful I was feeling for yelling at my kids. Soon, though, I would be able to stop myself in the middle of yelling; then, I would start to catch myself just before I started yelling.

I used 9x12 sketchbooks to pour my anger into. I began to realize that my anger was all the stored anger from years of stuffing. I grew up in a home that was strict and controlling. Anger was never allowed in any form. Plus, I learned how to be a doormat and was never allowed to have boundaries. I also married a sex addict and then proceeded to give myself away in the relationship. When you are constantly walked on and codependent to everyone else's issues you will develop deep levels of anger. Since I had supressed my anger for so long, it eventually started to come out sideways all over my children. That was not okay with me and I began to anger journal and started counseling to heal my own life.

So, when you wonder "how I let myself become this way," look for the underlying pain and anger that is actually getting triggered. Besides angry, what other feelings are you deep down feeling regularly? Do you get time for yourself? Do you feel like you do everything for everyone else and noone does for you? Do you feel guilt any time you even think of caring for yourself? Do you have childhood woundings that are unhealed? Have you had your boundaries crossed over and over again? Do you even have permission to have boundaries?

As many of the moms have said, time for yourself is vital. Counseling, coaching, parenting classes, child development classes, information on boundaries and good communication skills could all support you in making this shift in your life. Find ways to resource yourself with anything that would support you in feeling your feelings and expressing them appropriately. Learn extreme self-care. Be gentle and tender with yourself - yes, yelling is harmful and yet you have made the huge step of realizing what is happening and becoming willing to transform this. Sending you hugs of support.

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answers from Denver on

I'm dealing with the same issue. I'm usually pretty good about just walking away when I'm feeling frustrated - but I do blow my top - and sometimes it seems to build and build and then before I even realize it, I'm raging. I really don't like this side of myself, and I'm certainly not showing my 4 year-old how to manage her anger! I like to blame it on other stress in my life that pushes me over the edge - but be that as it may - it's just not helping anything. What I have tried to do is to be ever vigilant and tuned into how I'm feeling and what's going on inside of me. This is not easy. When your go-to reaction is to yell, it has become habitual - and it's very hard to break habits - especially bad ones;) What I'm trying to do is give this problem the attention it deserves! I really have to work on changing MY reactions. I don't have any brilliant advice since I'm working on this - but right now I've decided to make this something important that I dedicate attention and effort to, rather than just noticing it and feeling horrible, every time it happens. Good luck.

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