Let's face it: Young children can be as exasperating as they are adorable. And parents are only human. When a 1-year-old upends the dog dish for the third time in one day despite your pleas, it's easy to become irritated and yell. But raising your voice is a losing battle; it doesn't discourage frustrating behavior and ultimately gets everyone more upset than they need to be. And then, of course, there's the guilt -- and who needs more of that?
That's why we're offering up 10 tips to help break us all of this very bad habit. Try them out. Then let us know how they worked by logging on to americanbaby.com/parentingchallenge. Hopefully all of us will end up speaking a little more softly and feeling a lot less stressed.
1. Stack the odds. Does it drive you crazy that your toddler likes to dump every foodstuff known to man on the floor? Chances are, if he can't reach the cereal and rice boxes, he can't pour them out. Basic babyproofing is a real sanity saver; the more intact your sanity, the less you'll yell.
2. Tune in to yourself. Make note of when you're most likely to lose it and troubleshoot accordingly. Is it first thing in the morning before you've had your coffee? Then get your husband to play with your child while you savor that first cup of the day. Or buy a coffeemaker with a timer that starts brewing before you wake up.
3. Lower your expectations. If you find yourself yelling at your kids all the time, you may simply be expecting too much of them. There's only so long a baby can sit crammed into a car seat or a toddler can walk in a mall. Acquaint yourself with what's developmentally appropriate and then tweak your actions; one hour-long trip to the supermarket rather than hours of errands will reduce whining, and by association, yelling.
4. Just whisper. It sounds weird, we know. But if your child has to strain to hear you, he's less likely to tune you out. And it's nearly impossible to sound angry (and scary) when you're speaking softly.
5. Be strategic. Find ways to accomplish stressful tasks without your children in tow. If all of you lose it in the grocery store, shop for groceries online after they're in bed -- or even head out to the store after nine, when it's empty and you can shop quickly and efficiently.