How to stop yelling at your kids

3 steps to stop yelling at your kids and end morning mayhem.

Do you know this scenario?

“COME ON, HURRY UP! It’s time to GO! Stop playing around, you’re going to be late for school. For the last time, GRAB YOUR DAMN LUNCH! You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached to you! I’m LEAVING NOW. Get in the car already!”How to Stop yelling at your kids

The first five minutes of the car ride is angry and nagging, justifying our frustration, but by the time we get to school we’ve calmed down enough for the guilt to start creeping in. We might even squeeze out an “I love you” or “Have a good day” before they leap out of the car, happy to get away from such a cranky mommy. For the next hour, we feel like shit. “Why am I such a bitch?” “What a horrible way to start the day.” “What’s wrong with me and why can’t HE JUST HURRY UP so I don’t have to yell!”

The first step to stop yelling at your kids, is to understand why you do it in the first place. Yelling releases tension and energy. Keeping our feelings of frustration inside doesn’t feel good, so like steam escaping from a boiling pot, we release it by yelling. We feel better in the moment, but worse later on.

The second step to stop yelling at your kids, is to find the thought that causes your feeling of frustration. Emotions come from our thoughts. We can’t change our feelings but we can change the thoughts we think. If we find that a thought isn’t true, helpful or is resulting in something we don’t like, we can replace it with something more helpful.

Some of the more common thoughts Moms have that cause yelling are…
“He should move quicker” “He’s doing this on purpose” “Yelling is the only thing that motivates her.”
“We’re going to get in trouble” “This is embarrassing” “I can’t be late” “I’m never late” “I should have gotten up earlier” “You are trying to drive me crazy.”

The truth is, everyone is late sometimes. Some kids are naturally fast movers, and some kids naturally move slow. It’s human nature to move even slower when we don’t want to go somewhere. I notice that I move slower whenever I feel pressured. I don’t do it on purpose, but it explains why I was always chosen last in P.E.

To argue that kids “should move faster” isn’t helpful. It’s like arguing with human nature.

The third step to stop yelling at your kids is to accept things as they are. “My kid moves slowly in the morning.” “I get up later than I want to.” “Even when I try my best, sometimes I will be late.” How do you want to feel about these facts? You get to decide. You can feel frustrated, or you can choose an emotion that doesn’t lead to yelling, like peacefulness. Try the thought, “I want to be peaceful and efficient in the mornings” and see if it affects your emotional state in a positive way.

Once you are feeling calm and accepting about your mornings, your mind is more open to new ideas. Try these yell free life hacks to get kids into the car in the mornings:

Have a morning soundtrack. Play the same music set every morning so kids know that when Michael Jackson starts singing, it’s time to be dressed and eating breakfast downstairs. When Pharrell starts singing “Happy”, it’s time to get your shoes on and into the car. Practice on the weekend so they know the routine and reward them (and yourself) after three consecutive days of yell-free mornings.

Keep a “late happens” kit in the car so there’s no excuse to stress. This ziplock bag can contain a hairbrush, hair band, granola bar, sunscreen, deodorant, sugarless gum (for bad morning breath), a pen for signing last minute permission slips and a few dollars for buying lunch.

Have fun helping the kids create a morning routine poster. Include funny photos of them pretending to brush teeth, eat, or use the toilet. Encourage your kids to decide what would work best for them in the morning (maybe they need to go to bed earlier in order to take more time in the morning)? Buy them an old fashioned alarm clock so they can be self motivated and rely less on mom. Learning to switch your thinking will keep you plenty busy. 

Make the car a nice place to be. My daughter loved her chewable vitamin so I only let her have them in the car. A frozen waffle folded in half with peanut butter and a glass of milk makes for a quick & easy breakfast to go. Get the heater going, play some nice music and give your kids the happy, relaxed mommy you want them to have in the mornings.

If you want to stop yelling but haven’t been successful, schedule a free discovery call at



What’s your currency?

I was reading Amy Poehler’s biography, “Yes, Please!” and she talked about a moment of awareness in middle school that I loved and have been sharing with my summer camp girls. I’m roughly paraphrasing, but it was something like, “I realized I was never going to be the girl who turned heads, the girl all the boys wanted to be with, the most popular, the most athletic, or the smartest. But I was funny. So I decided my sense of humor would be my currency and I focused on building that.”

Middle school is the time kids start turning to the world around them and noticing what’s in, what’s out, how to blend in and not get made fun of. Kids 11-14 are trying to figure out who they are and who they are “supposed” to be and they look to peers and media for the answers. This often creates a perfectionistic image of the ideal look (height, weight, hair, skin, clothes, etc.) to the ideal friendships (outgoing & extroverted but a deep connection with a best friend, constant fun activities surrounded by friends, published on social media) to the perfect intelligence (smart but not too smart, confident but humble, get good grades but don’t work too hard). Yuck!

When kids buy in to this perfectionistic ideal they spend all their time and energy striving towards something impossible and exhausting.

This is why I loved the idea that kids could just chose their currency. Choose ONE THING they are going to focus on, expand on, and take pride in. Instead of trying to be perfect in every area, kids could decide they are already good at this one thing, and not worry about everything else.

What I found at my Launching Girl Leaders camps is that this was a really hard thing for the girls to reflect on. It was SO EASY for ME to identify their special skills, gifts and talents but it was hard for them to see in themselves. 

Here’s an example of some “currencies” these girls came up with

  • I’m really good at telling stories.
  • I like to ask questions and answer questions and am the first to volunteer, this seems to put other people at ease and helps them feel comfortable.
  • I’m really good at trying new things and physically pushing myself to the limit.
  • I love children and think I’m good with them.
  • I’m super determined. When I decide I want something, nothing will get in my way.
  • I really love animals and am inspiring my family to eat less meat.
  • I’m a good listener. People like to open up to me.
  • I’m nice to everybody. When someone’s friends are being mean, they know they can always sit with me at lunch.
  • I love playing games: board games, sports, video games. If I turn homework into a game, it makes it so much more fun.

Here’s your homework Mamas: I want you to help your sons and daughters, identify their currency. Give them some suggestions and ask them, “Which of your personality traits are you most proud of?” “How does this trait benefit others around you?” “Which of your talents would you like to focus on this year?” 

Then identify your own currency. I know that you have lots of traits that make you amazing. Pick one that comes so naturally to you, it’s like breathing. Think about what your friends and family praise you for. How does it feel to focus on this one thing that you already good at, instead of any shortcomings? Remember that without even trying, you are already good enough.

Would you like a career that is more in line with your natural currency? Schedule a free discovery call and lets talk about some new possibilities for you.

Got a strong-willed child?

Make your life easier by avoiding these two parenting traps.

Strong-willed kids know what they want and they feel determined to get it. Your opinion is heard, but just doesn’t carry as much weight as it does for a child who loves to please. Strong-willed kids like to learn experientially (just because you TELL them the ground is hot, doesn’t mean they are going to believe you until they try it for themselves). If your child has a strong desire to be in charge of themselves and follow through on their own ideas, this blog is for you. 

Raising a strong-willed preschooler takes a lot of work, patience and parenting savvy. As they grow older, their determination can be directed at things other than defying MOM & DAD. Often, these children will direct their passion towards women’s rights, animal rights, or other causes they feel strongly about. It can be a joy to watch these strong-willed kids make their mark on the world. 

HOWEVER, parenting them when they are little is a big job! We have to try and keep them ALIVE in order for them to change the world and we’ve got to watch out for the dreaded POWER STRUGGLE. Power struggles are a lose-lose situation (click here to read my blog about power struggles) and one of the biggest reasons we get into them is our desire to be a good mom. 

We often don’t even realize that our beliefs about being a good mom have been triggered. We might have subconscious beliefs that sound like this:

A good mom has a kids who get good grades and go to college.

A good mom has kids who eat healthy foods and bathe regularly.

A good mom doesn’t have children with depression or anxiety.

My strong-willed daughter is crispy red right now with a horrible sunburn. This triggers my “I’m a bad Mom” because a “good mom” wouldn’t let this happen.

I tried to put sunscreen on her. I offered, I cajoled, I reminded, but she’s a strong-willed 13 year old and I can only do so much to protect her fair Irish skin. I have learned that if she’s going to make smart choices, it has to be her idea, not mine. If I stay out of it and act like I don’t care, I’m hoping the pain of the sunburn will teach her all she needs to know. (I was hoping her Dad’s skin cancer treatments might send the message but NOT YET!) 

In order to not enter into a power struggle, I have to believe I am still a good Mom, even while she has a terrible sunburn and is damaging her skin.

I have clients who struggle in these areas:

Am I still a good Mom even if my son doesn’t go to college?

Can I be happy and proud of myself as a parent, even if my daughter is depressed?

What if he does break every bone in his body? Can I still think I’ve done my job as his Mom?

Don’t put your ability to believe you’re a good parent, in the hands of your children. It’s a disaster waiting to happen!  It makes us cling with fear and ferocity, to the manner in which our children live their lives. When they sense how invested we are in their behavior, it’s a recipe for rebellion. If you’ve got a strong willed child, notice where your biggest triggers are and consider the idea that you could be a great Mom, no matter what they do. Make room for imperfection in yourself and your children. It will make your life so much easier and your child won’t feel the need to rebel against you.

Believing we are good parents will make parenting a strong-willed child easier, more enjoyable, and pave a quicker path to happiness (and maybe even compliance) for the both of you.

One Habit Happy Parents Have in Common

Do this one thing today to help create more cooperative kids and happier parents.

There is one thing you can do today to have happier, more responsible, self-confident kids. PRAISE THEM. I don’t just mean “You are a great kid” or other general statements. I mean specific, timely, honest praise that gets you more of what you want.  Let’s say you have a 10 year old slob living in your home. He leaves food, shoes, backpacks and smelly socks everywhere. It drives you bonkers. You are constantly bouncing back and forth between frustration, nagging and hopelessness. Turn your attention and try to catch him doing SOMETHING towards your goal of cleanliness. “I noticed that instead of kicking off your shoe so that it would fly and hit the ceiling, you wedged it off and left it in the entry way. Thanks for aiming closer to it’s designated spot, I really appreciate your effort in helping our house stay tidy.”  Even if it’s nearly impossible to find something praise worthy, keep trying and look for the slightest nudge towards what you want. 

Perhaps you live with a surly, private 13 year old whose moods change on a dime. If you want to reinforce more steady, polite behavior, find a moment to praise it. “I notice when your friend came to the door, you were polite and sociable. That must have been hard since you were so grumpy a minute earlier. Being able to manage your emotions is a wonderful life skill and I’m impressed you are learning it at such a young age.”

You don’t want to lie or be sarcastic. Just find one small, incremental movement that demonstrates effort in the direction you want to see. Notice my title says “One thing happy PARENTS have in common”.  Sure, this will help your children be happy, but so will happier parents!  It’s just too easy to see the shortcomings in our kids, especially during adolescence. When we only see the negative in our kids it feels heavy and yucky to us, and to them. Focusing on what our kids are doing well will make everyone feel happier and more at peace. Try it today. Pick a behavior that bugs you and then find something to praise about it. “You brought your dish to the sink!” “Sharing space on your plate with a vegetable takes courage and that zucchini sat there the whole time!”  “I noticed how when you got angry with your sister, you went to your room to cool off instead of letting it escalate.” “You remembered you have a test tomorrow!” “You still brush your teeth every night even though I stopped reminding you!  You are so responsible!”

Avoid “You are so smart” or “Great Job” or anything fixed like intelligence, appearance, talent or skill. The key is to praise their EFFORT, something they have power over changing. Find something every day to praise, you will never regret it!

Is too much technology stressing out our kids?

Kids, Stress, Technology and BUFFERING? 

Our bodies are designed to live outside, moving constantly, with very little noise and external input distracting our brain. Once a year MAYBE a stampede of animals would go by and cause a ruckus or a group of travelers might come through. The thought of living in one place with only familiar faces, eating the exact same food, and doing the same activities day after day, seems immensely boring to me. But it always helps me to remember that our brains and bodies were not designed to handle the level of excitement and external stimulation we get today. What is the cost to our kids of this extreme level of input coming at us 24/7  video games, TV’s, social media alerts and advertisers, all promising MORE EXCITEMENT for a slice of our attention?

Kids show us how they are feeling through their behavior. Parents, noticing their kids stress levels rising, are wondering what is causing so much stress and how they can help?

Modern life creates an unnatural environment for kids. Asking them to sit on hard chairs inside four walls with people they don’t have intimate connections with, is an automatic stress. We want them to listen to someone else’s ideas the majority of the day, keeping an eye on the clock, always looking for the next blast of input. The absence of down time, time to connect with other people time, time to create and get lost in the imagination, time to explore nature and be in the body is unnatural for kids. Time to be inside our own heads without external input allows kids to process the stress of the day and feel refreshed and ready to learn.

We can help our kids by encouraging buffering, to prevent buffering. (WHAT? One word – two meanings – too much fun!)

Just like the spinning wheel on your computer, kids need time to “buffer” or process all the input they’ve taken in during their day. If you have too many windows open on your computer, things get bogged down and overwhelmed. Rather than yelling, crying or melting down, your computer takes a pause, refuses to do more work, until it has processed all that is happening. Kids can “buffer” or process their day by talking, walking, riding bikes, skateboarding, staring into space, creating something, any quiet, repetitive, physical activity. Today’s kids might CLAIM that video games and netflix help them relax but actually it creates a different kind of buffering.

The other “buffering” is what we do to protect us from a stressful world. Like padding on the walls, we buffer ourselves from our own emotions and our own bodies so that we can’t notice how stressed we are. This kind of buffering PREVENTS us from processing and keeps us stuck in a loop that’s hard to get out of. If you’ve ever gone on vacation but took a few days to relax into vacation mode, your constant work load or input addictions were creating a kind of buffering for you. Adults use work, alcohol, food, worrying, clutter, busy-ness, any number of things to buffer ourselves from our genuine emotions. Kids, more and more, are using electronic input to buffer themselves from an overwhelming world.

What can you do to help? 

Remember that neighborhood park you took them to in preschool?  Go there (or let kids go by themselves?) Hang out. It might take a while for them to remember how to entertain themselves.  It’s different than going to “practice” where someone is telling you what to do. Celebrate boredom. Let them see you relaxing. it’s painful to step off the grid but keep at it. Just like you on vacation, it might take a few days but eventually you settle in and it feels delightful.

Fake a blackout. Pretend the power went out, light candles and let yourselves be bored together. Tell stories, play charades, or just do nothing. It was eye opening to see how early my family got sleepy without TV entertainment and artificial lights!

Go camping or visit state parks. There is something about being around water, trees, and fire that connects with our primal brain and tells it to relax. I’m always amused to see kids who have trouble paying attention in class, spend five straight hours burning stuff at a campfire pit.

Music calms the savage beast. If you can’t live without electronics, choose relaxing music or audiobooks. It connects with a different and more relaxing part of the brain. Try or simple habits app to use your electronic devices to encourage downtime.

If you see your kids staring into space, don’t interrupt them. That is very valuable time that is becoming more and more rare. Some kids like to process out loud, others need to process quietly inside their own heads. Be open and supportive to either one.


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