1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

6 Ways to Discipline Kids without Yelling

Get Your Child to Listen Without Raising Your Voice


Mixed race mother lecturing daughter
KidStock/Blend Images/Getty Images

Most parents yell at their kids at one time or another out of sheer frustration. However, for some parents, yelling can become a bad habit. Unfortunately, yelling is one of the eight discipline strategies that can actually make behavior problems worse.

Yelling at kids can cause them to tune you out. In the long-run, it can lead to even more behavior problems.

Another problem with yelling is that it doesn’t teach kids how to manage their behavior better. If a child gets yelled at for hitting his brother, he doesn’t learn how to resolve problems peacefully. There are many other discipline strategies that are more effective at teaching kids to improve their behavior.

1. Establish Clear Rules

You’ll be less likely to resort to yelling if you’ve established clear household rules. Keep a written list of household rules prominently displayed.

This helps remind kids what you expect from them. It also serves as a good reminder to you about which behaviors need to be addressed. Revise the list as needed over time.

2. Discuss Negative Consequences Ahead of Time

Explain the negative consequences for breaking the rules to your child ahead of time. Make it clear how you will enforce the rules. Use time out, take away privileges, or use logical consequences to help a child learn from his mistakes.

Plan ahead about how to handle misbehavior. Having a plan can help you respond to behavior problems with effective consequences instead of yelling.

3. Positive Reinforcement

Motivate your child to follow the rules by using positive reinforcement. If there are negative consequences for breaking the rules, there should also be positive consequences for following the rules.

Praise your child for following the rules and it can help prevent behavior problems. Give your child plenty of positive attention to reduce attention-seeking behaviors.

If your child is struggling with particular behavior problems, consider a reward system. Sticker charts work well for younger children and token economy systems can be effective with older children. Reward systems can help turn around behavior problems fast.

4. Examine the Reason You Yell

If you find yourself yelling at your child, take a look at the reason why. If you are yelling because you’re angry, learn strategies to calm your emotions so you role model healthy anger management strategies for your child. Take a self-time out or control any upsetting thoughts and wait until you can discipline your child calmly.

If you’re yelling because you feel your child isn’t listening, try new strategies that will get your child’s attention. Giving your child a negative consequence will be much more effective than raising your voice.

Finally, if you’re yelling at out of exasperation, develop a plan to address behaviors. Often, parents yell empty threats that they never plan to follow through with but just don’t know what else to do.

5. Offer Warnings When Appropriate

Instead of yelling, give your child a warning when it’s appropriate to do so. Obviously, if your child hits his brother, it should result in an immediate consequence, without a warning. However, if you have told him to pick up his toys and he doesn’t do so right away, offer a warning.

If…then statements can be effective ways to warn children about the consequences if they don’t follow your directions. Counting to three, the method suggested by 1-2-3 Magic, is another way to warn kids without yelling.

Yelling often leads to a power struggle. The more you yell at a child to do something, the more he’s likely to dig in his heels and behave defiantly. However, providing a warning that you plan to enforce shows your child that you’re serious.

6. Follow Through

Follow through with a consequence if your child doesn’t listen. Avoid nagging or repeating a warning over and over. Instead, follow through with the consequence to show that you mean what you say. If you don’t feel like the consequences you are using are effective, try a different consequence next time.

Follow through consistently to show your child that his behavior is unacceptable. Consistent discipline is the key to getting your child to change his behavior and become more compliant.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.