Kids are small. Imagine the emotional impact of someone twice your size yelling at you on the regular? Maya Angelou captured it when she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Children learn more about their worth from our tone of voice than from our words. Few of us feel better after we blow a gasket. Thankfully, there are gentler ways to get our point across and one of the most effective is speaking in a calm voice.
Speaking calmly is stage one in deactivating a nuclear meltdown. It encourages kids to do the same, while sending a white flag to your nervous system. You may need to scream in a pillow later, but at that moment the message is “There is an adult present who can handle this.”
This is challenging and you will snap from time to time. That’s fine, just own it: “I yelled because I was feeling frustrated about you not getting dressed. I didn’t handle that well. I’m sorry I raised my voice – I’m working on not yelling so much. Let’s find a way to do it better.”
As always, you don’t have to have a child to benefit from parenting tips. These reminders apply well to all relationships.