“Stop! No!! What did I tell you?!?!?!”
We’ve all had these extremely frustrating moments where we resort to yelling.
Yelling not only damages children and teaches them to tune out your voice but also discredits your position as an authority figure. Ultimately, it shows you’re out of control.
When you get kids to listen without yelling, you establish a trustworthy, non-threatening environment and model respect to them.
Since I believe that kids should grow up in a non-hostile environment and your words are very important, I have compiled 9 ways to get kids to listen without yelling.
9 Ways to Get Kids to Listen Without Yelling
- You stop yelling for everything
- Use positive reinforcement
- Give two options that are OK with you
- Wait for kids to look at you before you begin to speak
- Use positive instructions
- Give clear instructions
- Train kids to follow non-verbal instructions
- Get on their level
- Practice prevention
#1 You Stop Yelling for Everything
First of all, we as adults model the actions we want our kids to have. If our children are behaving in ways that make us want to scream at them, we need to take a look at ourselves to see what we’ve been teaching them with our own actions. We can train our kids to listen to us when we speak by respecting ourselves and them. We can teach them to listen by listening to them first.
If you shout everything you need to say, you create a hostile environment. When you speak in quieter tones, your kids see you as pleasant and amiable. Why wouldn’t they listen to someone they feel loves them! As your words begin to have value, your voice is not something your kids automatically disregard.
#2 Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive Reinforcement is rewarding desired behaviour in order to increase the likelihood of this behaviour to occur again. This is a proven method that reaps desired results time and time again because human nature is designed to repeat behaviour that is rewarded.
One simple example is eating when you feel hungry. The next time you get hunger pains, you will be sure to eat again since you are aware of the rewarding feeling of satisfaction.
Likewise, in the classroom or in your home, when a child is praised or rewarded for a positive behaviour, he or she will be more likely to repeat that desired behaviour.
How does this translate to not yelling?
Instead of focusing on the the exasperating behaviour which causes your stress levels to rise and you resort to yelling, pay attention to and praise the good that is being done by your child. When you reward the good behaviour with your time, appreciation, or sometimes material awards, your child will be more ready to listen to you because their need for quality adult attention is being fulfilled.
#3 Give Two Options That Are OK With You
How do you feel when you have to choose a pair of shoes from the shoe aisle at Walmart? While some of you know exactly what you’re looking for, others are seemingly paralyzed by the abundance of choices.
Your kids are the same way when it comes to choosing. Either they can freeze which causes your patience to run out or they know exactly what they want. Often, however, the latter is not something that is OK with you and ends up in a power struggle.
Rather than ending up with yelling, give your child two options that are OK with you. This gives them the ability to choose and still feel they are in charge. Where the child is frozen with too many options, he or she is now able to quickly make a decision that works for both of you. In the end, you have achieved an outcome that gives you a win-win situation.
Check out #9 in the following video to see the long-term benefits of applying this method:
#4 Wait for Kids to Look at You Before You Begin to Speak
So often when we yell, kids aren’t paying attention to us to begin with.
You can use different methods to train your kids to know that you are waiting for their full attention. One example is to use positive reinforcement by openly praising those kids that are looking at you attentively.
When each child is quietly focused on you, without raising your voice, you can proceed to teach the lesson. By waiting to speak until all kids are looking at you, you relay to them the importance of what you have to say and demand respect for your voice.
#5 Use Positive Instructions
Using positive instructions rather than negative ones helps the child to focus on what you actually want them to accomplish.
The human mind is designed to retain what it hears. If you want your child to not slam the door, you will have more favourable results if you ask the child to close the door gently. In this way, the child hears what you want them to do.
It’s so easy to yell the word, “No!” However, if you practice giving instructions with positive words, you create a non-hostile environment where kids are inclined to listen to you. Kids are smarter than you think! They can understand you when you communicate boundaries and your expectations of them.
In the following link you can familiarize yourself with a list of “Alternatives to ‘No’ “
#6 Give Clear Instructions
Along with positive instructions, it is equally important to give clear instructions. Any vague verbal or written instructions can be misinterpreted intentionally or unintentionally. To keep the mischievous ones at bay and properly inform the ones who are there to learn, make sure what you want the kids to do is crystal clear.
One way to give clear instructions is to use short demonstrative phrases.
By thinking ahead and carefully forming your instructions, you can avoid any potential loop holes that could cause you to lose your cool. Most children want to follow the rules. Make it easy for them.
#7 Train Kids to Follow Non-Verbal Instructions
Remember, the words you have to say are vitally important. When you use them sparingly, kids are more apt to listen. Another way to train your kids to listen to your voice is to not use it, when applicable, to give instructions.
Write your clear, positive instructions on the board or on group tables in point form.
When your kids come in and sit down, use a known signal cue for the kids to begin reading and performing the assignment. For younger kids who cannot read, use appropriate non-verbal signal cues to engage your class in learning.
You can reinforce the studious atmosphere by quietly walking around the classroom awarding on-task kids with a smelly spot or something age appropriate. As you make your way around the classroom, you can gently touch the desks of students who are off-task and make eye contact with them. You can draw their attention to the written instructions by pointing. Your presence alone will accredit you as a trustworthy authority figure as you ensure the desired tasks are being performed.
With this non-verbal method, you can get a whole class to be on-task without saying one word.
#8 Get on Their Level
If you as an adult can get on the level of the kids you are dealing with, you will be able to gain not only their approval but also their listening ears. When you take the time to listen to their deepest needs, you are telling them that they are important. This means to get into their social media platforms, watch their genres of movies, and learn their lingo. It even means to physically get down to their level until you are eye to eye with them.
When you take some time to see into the kids’ lives, you can spot that disruption and misbehaviour very often come from being misunderstood or feeling unimportant. You can easily spot these leaders of misbehaviour by weening out those that will listen to your instructions the first time. Once you have determined who the “troublemakers” are, you can then communicate your support to them with firm yet caring authority.
Still keeping your professional stance, by getting on the kids’ level, you are showing them that you are a friend instead of a tyrant. You relay to them that along with your lesson plan, you care deeply about their hearts and circumstances. As you get on their level, you show that you are non-threatening, open to suggestions and ready to listen to them. In this way, you are bound to have kids, and even teens, that will listen to you.
#9 Practice Prevention
Ultimately, to get kids to listen without yelling, I, as an adult, have to practice prevention. I myself need to be in control of my own emotions and my daily plan by getting proper rest and planning thoroughly. I need to be fully aware of the damage my yelling causes in the kids’ lives and make sure that I take time out for a breather if necessary to prevent the yelling.
Getting ahead of the game sends the message to the kids that you mean business, and it creates trust that you have important things to say. By acknowledging the kids’ needs, opening up your ears to listen to them, using your tone of voice intentionally, and noticing the small details, you will prevent many problems that end up with explosive yelling.
Are you ready to turn your obstructive yelling to a voice that is consistently heard?
Recognizing a child’s needs is crucial to setting a listening environment. Using these 9 ways to get kids to listen without yelling will accredit you as a respectful, trustworthy adult and open doors to pour knowledge and wisdom into your kids’ lives like never before.
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