How to Decrease Yelling

By Jessica Streit

I have a confession to make.

I yell at my kids. 

I know this is normal for some people but I’m not very proud of this fact. I wasn’t always a yeller. In fact there was a time in my life when I rarely ever got angry. I was proud to have the ability to keep things in perspective and avoid yelling.

Then I got married and had kids. My path to yelling started.

I don’t yell at my children all the time. I don't yell daily. I'm not a habitual yeller who has trouble talking to her kids. However, it seems that when I, myself am most stressed or frustrated, I yell. I believe it happens when I am unable to control my emotions. Inevitably, When I do yell, I always feel terrible after.

It hurts my heart to yell at my children. 

My perspective on yelling changed when I found The Orange Rhino Challenge. This blog and corresponding challenge was started in 2012 by a mother who found herself going through similar emotions. She was yelling more than she wanted to be, so she challenged herself to go one year without yelling at her children.

Is yelling necessary? 

Reading this site has given me insight into why I yell. It's opened my eyes as to how it affects my children and myself. It has provided me the clarity to realize that my yelling stems from my own inability to control my emotions. I yell because of issues within me, not because of my children. I yell because I am frustrated or stressed or exhausted. I have realized that I need to learn to control my behavior more so that my children can actually hear what I’m saying to them. When I yell, all they hear is loud, mean noises.

The Orange Rhino Challenge provides tips on how to decrease yelling as well as alternatives to yelling. Here's a few from the site and some I have learned on my own.

1. Recognize your triggers. You absolutely must find out what causes you to yell. And then fix it. Do you yell when you are too tired, stressed or overly hungry? If you say yes to those then it is important to work on ways to recognize and eliminate your triggers.

2. Create visualizations to remind you of your goals. Print an Orange Rhino logo and stick it to the kitchen, paint your nails orange, wear an orange hair band on your wrist, create a sign that means something to you that will remind you to avoid yelling.

3. Take deep breaths before you address your children. Practice this regularly.

4. Talk about it with your partner. Create a plan together.

5. Instead of yelling, whisper to your children. As a teacher, I can assure you this works!

6. Expect your children to avoid yelling too.

Think you are ready to take The Orange Rhino Challenge? I am too! Here's how the challenge works: 

  • 1. Find a range for how you yell. There's one on the site that you can use but it’s best to create examples that fit your life. Keep your voice at a level below a 4. 
  • 2. Keep track of how well you do. 
  • 3. Celebrate each day that you don't yell. 
It's simple, right? That actually depends on you. I will be honest, I have tried to eliminate my yelling. And I have failed every single time. However, recently I’ve noticed my younger son yelling at me in a way that I find extremely disappointing and frustrating. He’s having trouble working through some frustrations and I want to be a good role model for him. Therefore, I am recommitting myself to The Orange Rhino Challenge. I am going to print off a logo and stick it on my fridge right next to my dry erase board that will count up the days that I have avoided yelling. I’m going to talk to my children about it and encourage them to warn me if they think I might yell. The three of us are going to have a talk about yelling and I’m going to encourage them to not yell as well (especially at me).

Do you think you could do it?  

Jessica Streit is an educator, freelance writer and single mom of 2 boys. Her writing can be found on a variety of topics including personal finance, education and parenting. She blogs about overcoming debt and living a royal life on a budget at The Debt Princess.