Follow these expert tips to stay calm in the face of your tot’s bad behaviour.


Parents often yell at their offspring because they are really mad with them for misbehaving.

Yelling is an immediate way to get junior’s attention and also easier than explaining and reasoning with them. After all, your mini-me would also think twice about testing your limits again.

Unfortunately, when you yell at your child for a prolonged period of time, it may have an impact on their health and well-being.

Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist from Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, notes that incessant yelling can traumatise your munchkin. “They may become anxious and have nightmares if the verbal abuse is excessive.” What’s more, your child will model your behaviour and shout at you or at his friends.

“They may become anxious and have nightmares if the verbal abuse is excessive.”

Studies have also shown that children who are persistently abused — even just verbally — are more prone to depression and anxiety in adulthood. Dr Lim points out, “They are also more prone to having personality problems and may behave aggressively.”

Even though occasional and infrequent yelling is unlikely to leave much of an impact on your child, you have better ways to relate to your child, or resist the urge to shout. Try these tips…

1) Re-examine your goals and your purpose of yelling Most of the time, you may be screaming at your mini-me because you just needed to vent your frustrations. Dr Lim notes that if you think about the reason for your shrieking, you’ll probably come to the conclusion that yelling isn’t going to help.

2) Recognise the trigger It is very easy to screech at your child because it is a reflex action born out of your irritation. So, try to spot the early signs of anger — it can be a quickened heartrate, furrowed brows, or a hot feeling in your body. Condition yourself to walk away before you feel the urge to shout.



3) Manage your emotions You are your child’s role model, so he’s constantly learning new ways to control his emotions from you. If you approach your child with empathy, he will learn to do the same. But if you scream, he will pick that up, instead.

4) Learn to relate to your mini-me in a more constructive manner When you shout, your child will eventually learn that the only way for him to win the argument is to shout louder. Try this, instead: Lower yourself to speak to your child at his eye-level. Use a consistent and low voice — not an animated or irritated tone — to explain to your child how you’ll like him to behave. When you are calm, your child will behave in the same manner.

You can also look into ways to help your munchkin express his anger in a productive manner. It can as easy as kicking a ball or running outdoors.

5) Don’t take your child’s misbehaviour personally Recognise that your child is a child — so, he will be immature and will throw tantrums. He is also coming to grips with managing big emotions like anger and sadness. Dr Lim notes that your child hasn’t learnt the right methods to manage their feelings, so they must be given the chance to do so. You can also look into ways to help your munchkin express his anger in a productive manner. It can be as easy as kicking a ball or running outdoors.

6) Remove any source of additional stress Is your schedule packed? Have you got too much on your plate? Stress-inducing commitments may lead you to yell at your child. Try to see if you can delegate some of your responsibilities to your spouse and replace it with an activity that’ll help you destress. Dr Lim suggests, “Parents can sometimes forget to take good care of themselves and have adequate rest, leading to frustration and irritability.”

7) Your actions affect the mood at home Whenever you or your spouse howls at your mini-me, you are ruining your home’s calm and soothing environment. Venting your anger will only make everyone feel more tense and frustrated. It can also set off relationship issues between you and your spouse, especially if one doesn’t agree with the other’s reasons for shouting.

8) Take the mistakes you make, in your stride Sometimes, try as you might, there will be occasions when you fall short and scream at your child. Dr Lim says when you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just take it as a lesson in your parenting learning process. “There is no need to feel guilty — guilt will only lead to more stress and anger, and consequently, more shouting.”

Photos: iStock

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