Editor's note: Betsy Flagler is on vacation. This column originally ran on Sept. 6, 2010.
Yelling is a bad habit, and like any habit, it's not going to disappear overnight. With diligent effort, however, your household can be calmer and quieter.
Tips from parents include whispering, humor and relaxation techniques. To put an end to this loud cycle, you'll also need to come up with a new discipline plan and resolve to follow it.
One special-education teacher said her experiences with students with emotional and behavioral problems taught her not to yell.
"The children just shut off, and then they begin to yell," she says. "Instead of yelling, I whisper. It commands much more attention, because they really have to listen."
Another mother tries to instill the idea that everyone is working together on the problem by using a family signal. "I have the children remind me when I am yelling, and I remind them," she says. "Just cover your mouth and say, 'Shhh,' when anyone is yelling."
Another mom said that when she feels like losing her temper, she pretends that another adult is in the room observing.
"I try to behave as I would if one of my neighbors was watching," she said. "It tends to keep the lid on my response."
Lots of parents found a simple joke can do wonders. "When my daughter gets me going, I stop, take a deep breath and use a little humor," said one mom. "It takes the edge off. I find my daughter uses the humor back with me, and it defuses the situation."
Another approach: Parents acknowledge that when they yell, it's actually their problem.
"I find when I lose my temper, it's after a long day," said one mom. "I first recognize that my resources are low, and that the boys aren't being any worse than usual. As soon as I calm down, I say I'm sorry and let them know it's not their fault."
In a similar vein, another mom says it helps to know what triggers her frustration.
"I've learned to intercede earlier, before my blow-up point," she says. "Also, none of my yell-control techniques work when we're walking out the door late. So now I do more planning to make sure we're not late so it doesn't happen."
Some parents suggest calling a family meeting to talk problems over. Whatever method you choose, families need a basic agreement in place about the way people should be treated when problems occur. Find what works for your family, and be consistent.
A bored child begging for attention can be annoying. Instead of letting a little one bug you repeatedly, fill his emotional gas tank early in the day. Set aside about 30 minutes to play with your child and get him engaged, then tell him he is on his own for a while.