More Discipline Strategies to Stop the Screaming
The hardest part of the day for many moms is getting the kids out of the house. You ask them to get dressed and put their shoes on; they ignore you. You finally find your keys and are ready to go; they run off and hide. It's all fun and games -- until you unleash the scream beast.
Why parents lose it It's extremely frustrating when you're in a rush to get out the door and no one is taking your concerns about staying on schedule seriously. You can't help but feel insignificant, out of control, and burdened all at the same time -- you're obviously going to have to drop what you're doing and force your kids' shirts over their little heads yourself.
It's easy to forget that young children have no concept of the consequences of running late. But repeating yourself over and over isn't the solution. "It teaches them that they're too stupid to get it or that they don't have to respond the first time," Dr. Hutt says.
The no-scream solution Rather than nagging your kids until you're at the point of shouting, just tell them it's time to get ready once -- and then don't give any more reminders, Dr. Hutt suggests. Say, "We're leaving in ten minutes. I hope you'll be dressed and ready." If they aren't, pick them up and put them in the car firmly yet gently -- in whatever they're wearing. If your kids have to go to school in their pajamas, they'll know you mean business next time.
Your daughter borders on genius when it comes to pushing her brother's buttons. In the car on the way to the park, she leans over and touches his beloved blankie with one graceful finger, setting off a full-on battle. Your temper goes from zero to 60 in three seconds or less.
Why parents lose it No matter who "started it," it's almost impossible to play referee when both kids are screaming and kicking -- and the situation becomes flat-out dangerous if their fighting is distracting you while you're driving.
The no-scream solution When things are already heated between your kids, having a strongly negative reaction is like adding fuel to a fire; it will only escalate the situation. Especially on the road, where you can't really shift your attention and get involved, your initial instinct might be to yell -- but try to be responsive rather than reactive, Schafer recommends. After pulling over, matter-of-factly let your kids know it's unsafe for you to drive while they're fighting, saying something like, "I understand you're upset, but I can't go anywhere until you calm down. When you've worked it out together, I can drive again." Then sit quietly, read a book, or IM with friends until they've chilled out. By staying collected, you make it clear that you're not going to take sides, and you set an example for how your children should behave with each other. The immediate lesson you're trying to impart is this: Calm cars move; fighting cars stop. But the bigger message goes beyond driving. When parents respond to children in ways that make them feel heard and understood are going to learn to treat others that way as well.
Originally published in the May 2012 issue of Parents magazine.