Shouting at your children is a problem for some Dads. At best it involves raised voices, at worst violence, and in the middle swearing at them. As Dads, we have to learn how to deal with our anger problems because if we do not it will harm all our important relationships.
You Are Not The Only One
The first thing to reassure you is that you will not be the last dad that shouts at his children. It is something that I struggle with myself. Frustration levels build, the plan that you had for dinner or to be on time for school goes out the window and then you find yourself shouting at your children – or even worse swearing at them.
Not ideal. Preferably avoided. But it happens.
Too many people believe no level of anger is ok but I don’t believe this is realistic. I really respect people that can achieve that but for some families that is just not their style. For me and my kids we are loud, 100 miles an hour, make things happen kind of people. It is not really that conducive to calm and peace. There is a huge amount of love and laughter but also emotions can run high.
It is hard being a parent and emotions will boil over. Frustration and stearn words are inevitable as a parent. The important thing is that you have some level of control and that your response is appropriate. Out of control abuse and shouting at your children is not.
You Cannot Hit Your Children
The obvious limit is hitting or even smacking your children. In many countries, this is now against the law. As toddlers up to maybe 4 our children received the occasional smack on the bottom. The intention was not to hurt but to bring about the obvious realisation that what they were doing was not ok. The naughty step, being put in their cot and other such age-appropriate punishments were also used. Arguably these are more appropriate in today’s world.
What I do know is that smacking children has an unnecessary negative effect when it leaves the child scared and fearful. I know this first hand from my childhood when I received plenty more than a smack on the bum. If you find yourself lashing out or smacking your child hard then you need to seek professional therapy. You are likely breaking the law and more importantly will destroy your relationship with them and your partner.
Why Do We Shout At Our Children?
Most commonly shouting at your children comes from frustration. What I know from myself though is that this frustration is rarely just about them. I can put up with hearing my children argue and fight for 40 minutes but then it becomes exhausting. I’m trying to focus on my work or I am already stressed about money or some other personal matter. Quite often we take out our relationship frustrations or loneliness on our children. Ultimately they are just being kids. It is my frustration about that plus all the other matters that boil over.
For others that frustration can be about values and what they are hoping to receive from the relationship with their children. Sitting down to dinner together. Keeping a tidy room or washing the dishes. When these values seem questioned or ignored then the frustration level rises. When a parent feels unappreciated or undermined that frustration can lead to resentment and anger. What happens next depends on the individual. Whether swearing or violence though neither is acceptable.
Whatever is going in front of us it is rarely the root cause. You have to get to the bottom of that if you are to deal with your anger properly.
How To Stop Shouting At Your Children
Finding a way to stop shouting at your children is impossible in the heat of the moment. You need to put the groundwork in as part of your everyday life. Having a clear set of family values and rules is really important.
I regularly reinforce these so that we can pull on them when arguments or pinch points arrive.
For example, telling my children to watch their aggressive tone and body language with each other when they could simply answer their questions. This helps them avoid arguing with each other which avoids me getting frustrated and shouting at them to stop fighting.
Being organised is another clear way to avoid situations where I end up shouting at my children. I know the mornings we are together that being organised is vital. I explain this to them so we can all work on them together.
Getting up at the right time. Making sure school clothes are already ironed. Giving them breakfast and having my shower whilst they eat it. Ensuring homework is not left until the last minute. If any of these are not in place then an argument happens. Set yourself up for success by reviewing your routines and making them work.
Having A Safety Word
One of the most effective ways I have created to stop shouting at your children is to create a safety word. For us, it is “LOCKDOWN”. Any of us can call lockdown and we all know that we have to stop talking. It does not mean that the problem has gone away but it acknowledges that we are about to end up in an argument if we all don’t stop talking. Allowing a period of silence quite literally helps the pressure drop. We can then talk about it sensibly or the problem disappears altogether.
Explain this process to your family and select a safety word that works for you.
Deciding What Matters – Let The Rest Go
It is important to instil our values on our children. What we have to remember though is that our children are influenced by many things now. From TV shows to YouTube, to what they are told its right and wrong at school. You need to decide how important your values are to you and whether they are worth the arguments.
That does not mean throwing them all out of the window but it eating dinner together is your problem then consider the bigger picture. Are you really asking for quality time with your children? Does it have to be dinner around the table every night? Could watching Modern Family and eating in front of the TV still become quality time? All of these and more options are better than you digging your heels in and becoming resentful about where you eat.
Our course I want my children to grow up respectful, well mannered and able to fit into all kinds of different situations but don’t let those ideals become destructive in your relationships. Trust that you can lead by example in many ways and every day. If your child is messy then maybe they are just messy. Maybe the argument with you is what they wanted. Either way, it is not really about the messy room, it is about your problem with the messy room.
Our children go through phases. The best we can hope for is to get through them successfully together. They feel like hell whilst they last but when they pass we can barely remember what it was like. Remember that they are just kids. It does not occur to them that five dirty cups is an issue. They have got their own stuff going with puberty and hormones, let alone the pressures of everyday teenage life.
If you can become better at letting what doesn’t matter go then your relationship will be better for it.
Creating More Of What You Want
Letting things go does not mean being walked all over. If having dinner together was actually about quality time then express this to your family. Then find ways to create that quality time in ways that suit you all or with each person in your family. Perhaps you ask to have dinner together at least twice a week. Perhaps you ask them to at least get their dirty plates into the kitchen!
Ask your children what they want from you. Be prepared to listen to their answers and don’t try to adjust or judge them. Perhaps when they see you stopping being Mr Angry they will be more inclined to be less annoying.
You may find when each of you is creating and providing more of what the other wants then reasons to get frustrated and annoyed disappear.
Your No Swearing Streak
And finally, if you want to stop shouting at your children you have to get honest about this habit you have created. It is an emotional response that you are allowing to be triggered. If you follow the suggestions above then you may be able to remove a lot of the triggers.
If your anger is more out of control than that then you really do need to look into proper anger management counselling. You can seek a counsellor or course local to you or try some of these online anger management courses on Udemy.
Now with the right support in place, you can start to track your success. Mark down how many days have you gone without losing your temper or swearing at your children. I like to use the Streaks App (iOS) or you can try any of these Android Habit Apps. What helps, even more, is if you can have a buddy that you do this with. Ask around your friends or post it in the Team Super Dad Group.