How to Employ "Scream-Free" Parenting

Why should parents stop screaming at their kids – in all cases – effective immediately? Here are 4 important reasons why:
  1. With parental screaming, your children will learn that they never really have to change their behavior, because screaming is not much of a consequence. Instead, they will just listen to the yelling and do whatever they want to do anyway. And eventually, they will simply tune you out completely.
  2. When yelling becomes your usual method of dealing with problems, your kids are also apt to think that it is okay for them to scream a lot. You’re teaching your children that yelling is an appropriate response when one is angry or stressed.
  3. Screaming teaches that life, in general, is often out-of-control.
  4. Screaming actually empowers your children (but in a bad way), because it gives them the message that you are not in control …and if you are not in control, they assume that they are the ones in charge.

If you find yourself yelling at your youngster too often, it’s not going to be easy to stop (at least not right away). Learning how to change the way you communicate with your youngster takes practice. You may need a different disciplinary technique, because your children are going to push your buttons to try and get you to lose control (which is what they have been doing for a long time now). But you can learn to stay in control and communicate with them effectively.

Here are 20 techniques that will help you get the behavioral results that you want from your kids without screaming at them:

1. After an outburst, even a minor one, immediately ask, "OK, what could I have done to avoid the frustration?" This is a better question to ponder than, "OK, what could I have done to avoid yelling." Accepting that frustration is likely to lead to a conflict helps treat the cause instead of the symptoms. Now, each outburst, instead of being a failure and an opportunity for guilt, can be an opportunity to learn and add to your parenting arsenal.

2. Because screaming often makes a youngster feel badly about himself, he will often lash back in order to protect himself, and then become revengeful. He may, out of fear and sadness, stop the behavior for a short period of time, however the anger and humiliation he felt will build-up …and soon enough, he will lash out. A good example here is when moms and dads think screaming works when their kids are small, but are shocked when they experience severe disobedience when their kids become teenagers.

3. Count to 10 while really disengaging yourself from the situation. Walk away, go into a different room, and do a different activity. Even if you don’t have a clue what’s triggering your frustration, if you know that you are over-reacting, then you can try disengaging.

4. Find a word or phrase to distract yourself from yelling and remind yourself that your youngster isn't trying to drive you nuts -- he's just doing what kids do. "He's only 3, he's only 3," is one example. Repeat it to yourself several times when you feel like you're about to explode.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents 

5. Find ways to accomplish stressful tasks without your kids in tow. If all of you “lose it” in the grocery store, shop for groceries online after they're in bed -- or even head out to the store after 9:00 PM, when it's empty and you can shop quickly and efficiently.

6. For some, screaming offers a form of physical release. Jogging in place or doing a jumping jack or two can distract you and give you the outlet you need when you feel like yelling. You probably won't want to do this in public, of course, but at home anything goes. Who knows? You may lose a few pounds!

7. Give yourself some time to transition when you come home. Take 10 minutes to get into some comfortable clothes, gather your thoughts, and then come out of your room and talk to your children. They’ll act like they can’t wait 10 minutes at first, but they’ll get used to it …they’ll learn to give you your space eventually.

8. If you get too upset by the situation to maintain control, you are also too upset to figure-out and set long-range consequences for the children. Learn to handle the conflict first - then you get to teach them with a consequence. And if it takes a few iterations before you get the hang of it - fine. When you have successfully handled the problem with patience and kindness, you will usually discover that consequences are simply unnecessary. And on the rare occasion where they are, they should be preceded by long conversations filled with lessons before a consequence should be agreed upon.

9. If you’re caught in a yelling match with your child, it’s always okay to stop at any point. No matter if the fight is just beginning, if you’re deep into it, or it’s been going on for 15 minutes, you can give yourself permission to stop and step away from the situation. You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.

10. If you’re trying to get more control and would like to stop yelling, talk to your spouse or your friends, and really acknowledge all of it. There’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about—all parents scream from time to time. Your spouse might have some insights or some ideas of what you can do. Maybe he/she can even step in and help out next time when you start to lose it. He/she also might notice what some of your triggers are that you haven’t noticed yourself.

11. If you’ve had a bad day, then after the kids are in bed, take a long hot bath in Epsom salts and have a small glass of wine …works for me :)

12. It is perfectly O.K. to wait ten minutes—or even wait until the next day—to come back and talk with your youngster about her inappropriate behavior. Often times, parent-child conflict is truly not that urgent. Most of us yell about things that are minor if you really think about it. The problem might feel urgent at the time, but that’s only because of whatever we bring to the situation—not usually because of our kid’s behavior.

13. Lower your expectations. If you find yourself screaming at your children all the time, you may simply be expecting too much of them. Acquaint yourself with what's developmentally appropriate and then tweak your actions (e.g., one hour-long trip to the supermarket rather than hours of errands will reduce whining, and by association, yelling).

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents 

14. Once the conflict is over, make sure everyone is ok …that there is no permanent damage. It isn't just for the children - it's to alleviate the sense of failure, to enable you to shake it off and continue instead of wallowing in guilt and self-pity for the rest of the day. Saying "I love you very much even though I was really mad at you" is a great way to stay in good standing with your child after the dust has settled.

15. Taking care of your kids can be exhausting to say the least. And yelling is a definite sign of stress and fatigue, which means you need (and deserve) a break! Have your husband or a trusted babysitter step in for half a day so you can get some much-needed time to rejuvenate.

16. Try whispering. It sounds weird, I know. But if your youngster has to strain to hear you, he's less likely to tune you out. And it's nearly impossible to sound angry (and scary) when you're speaking softly.

17. Use prayer and meditation during times of stress (usually after the dust has settled).

18. Walking away from a screaming match will often stop the fight in its tracks, right then and there. Stepping away—taking that time away from the heat of the situation—helps you as a parent to figure out what your response should be. Sometimes this will mean spending some time away from your youngster and then going back later and dealing with the misbehavior.

19. We all have triggers, and often they’re not very rational. Know what your triggers are and what sets you off (e.g., feet on the couch, backtalk, making a mess in the kitchen, etc.). Teach yourself what you can do when you’re triggered in order to respond more effectively. 90% of the time, the reason parents yell is because they were yelled at as kids. Even though they may have hated being yelled at, it is all they know, and they simply fall into that same pattern during times of stress with their own kids. So, be sure to understand your triggers!

20. When you catch yourself screaming, change the message to expressing your feelings (e.g., "I am so frustrated right now!"). Don’t make the mistake of simply trying to stop yelling (this will only create pressure and tension). The problem is that you've already lost control - you can't put a clamp on it - but you can give it a healthier outlet, both for you and for the kids who will receive the message, "Mom has emotions" instead of "you are bad."

Let's face it: Kids can be as exasperating as they are adorable – and parents are only human. But raising your voice is a losing battle. It doesn't discourage frustrating behavior and ultimately gets everyone more upset than they need to be. And then, of course, there's the guilt – and who needs more of that?

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Skype Workshops for Parents of Strong-Willed, Out-of-Control Children and Teens

Mark Hutten, M.A. - Master's in Counseling Psychology

The problem is that most parents of strong-willed, out of control children and teenagers have tried very hard to regain control -- but with little or no success.  And it seems the harder the parent tries, the more the child "acts-out."

I often hear the following statement from parents: "I've tried everything with this child -- and nothing works!"  But when they work with me, they soon discover they have not tried everything, rather they have tried some things.

If you're interested in Skype counseling, simply do the following:
  1. Create a Skype account, if you haven't done so already -- it's free!
  2. Add me to your contacts list. My Skype name is: markbhutten. [After you get into your Skype account, do a search using my Skype name. You'll see my picture and my name: Mark Hutten.]
  3. Send me a contact request. I will accept it and add you to my contacts.
  4. Email me so we can set-up a day and time to talk:
  5. At some point before we meet, you will need to send a PayPal payment of $49.00 to:
Sessions are 1 hour long (only one session per week, but we can do multiple weeks if needed).

I'm here for you if you need me, Mark Hutten, M.A.

Email me if you have questions: 

Not ready to do counseling yet? Try my program first then:

==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens a downloadable eBook with video instruction designed to help parents of strong-willed, out of control children and teenagers.

My bio:

I'm the founder of Online Parent Support, LLC. I'm a life coach, couples' coach, and a parent coach with more than 30 years’ experience. I've worked with hundreds of children and teens with behavioral problems over the years. I also present workshops and training courses for parents and professionals who deal with troubled children and teens.

Follow me on:

My Facebook support group:

    Tried and Tested Disciplinary Strategies for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    How much longer will you tolerate dishonesty and disrespect? How many more temper tantrums and arguments will you endure? Have you wasted a lot of time and energy trying to make your child change?  

    ==> If so, then this may be the most important article you'll ever read!

    What Oppositional Defiant Disorder May Look Like Throughout Childhood

    Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is defined as a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least 6 months. Behaviors included in the definition are as follows:
    • refusing to follow rules
    • losing one's temper
    • deliberately annoying other people
    • blaming others for one's own mistakes or misbehavior
    • being touchy, easily annoyed or angered
    • being resentful, spiteful, or vindictive
    • arguing with grown-ups
    • actively defying requests

    Here’s what ODD looks like throughout childhood:

    • family instability, including economic stress, parental mental illness, harshly punitive behaviors, inconsistent parenting practices, multiple moves, and divorce, may also contribute to the development of oppositional and defiant behaviors
    • temperamental factors, such as irritability, impulsivity, and intensity of reactions to negative stimuli, may contribute to the development of a pattern of oppositional and defiant behaviors in later childhood
    • when the parent punishes the youngster, the youngster learns to respond to threats
    • when the mother or father fails to punish the youngster, the youngster learns that he or she does not have to comply
    • the youngster's defiant behavior tends to intensify the parents' harsh reactions
    • moms and dads respond to misbehavior with threats of punishment that are inconsistently applied
    • interactions of a youngster who has a difficult temperament and irritable behavior with moms and dads who are harsh, punitive, and inconsistent usually lead to a coercive, negative cycle of behavior in the famil
    • these patterns are established early, in the youngster's preschool years; left untreated, pattern development accelerates, and patterns worsen

    • they lack the skills to solve social conflicts
    • they blame their peers (e.g., "He made me hit him.")
    • these kids may be more likely to misinterpret their peers' behavior as hostile
    • noncompliance with commands
    • kids with patterns of oppositional behavior tend to express their defiance with educators and other grown-ups and exhibit aggression toward their peers
    • kids with ODD and poor social skills often do not recognize their role in peer conflicts
    • in problem situations, kids with ODD are more likely to resort to aggressive physical actions rather than verbal responses
    • failure to take responsibility for one's own actions
    • emotional overreaction to life events, no matter how small
    • as kids with ODD progress in school, they experience increasing peer rejection due to their poor social skills and aggression
    • ODD behavior may escalate and result in serious antisocial actions that, when sufficiently frequent and severe, become criteria to change the diagnosis to conduct disorder

    NOTE: When many kids with behavioral problems and academic problems are placed in the same classroom, the risk for continued behavioral and academic problems increases.

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Oppositional, Defiant Teens 

    Why We Are Seeing Our Young People Commit Horrific Violent Acts

    “Why are so many of our young people turning to senseless acts of violence these days… why are we seeing such an epidemic of mass shootings …why …why?!”

    Several things have occurred in recent years that appear to have created the perfect storm for mass shootings. In no particular order, mass shooters tend to have the following commonalities:

    1.    All mass shooters had the means to carry out their violent act (in most cases, purchasing their weapons through legal avenues). 

    2.    Most mass shooters reach an identifiable crisis point in the months leading up to the shooting.

    3.    There was both a means and an opportunity to carry out the crime in all cases.

    4.    Most had experienced trauma or exposure to violence in childhood (e.g., teasing, bullying, and/or ostracization by their peer group, physical and/or sexual abuse, parental suicide, neglect, domestic violence, etc.).

    5.    Most felt 100% justified in carrying out the shooting (i.e., they honestly thought they were “doing the right thing”).

    6.    Most become angry, despondent and violent because of a specific grievance (in the El Paso case, having a serious problem with Latino immigrants). Other examples of specific grievances include relationship rejection (or some other type of loss), a change in job status, feeling belittled or shamed by certain individuals, etc.

    7.    Mental health concerns are often present (e.g., thought disorders, suicidality, depression, anxiety, etc.).

    8.    Many of these shooters have been radicalized online (i.e., they study other perpetrators and model their violent acts after previous shootings).

    9.    Most had studied the actions of other shooters and pursued validation for their motives, which might explain why we had 2 mass shooting back-to-back (i.e., mass shootings tend to be socially contagious – they come in clusters).

    10.    In many cases, the shooter communicated to others through (a) specific threats of violence (e.g., via Facebook and Twitter), (b) an expression of suicidal thoughts or plans, or (c) a marked change in behavior.

    11.    At some point prior to the shooting, many decided that life was no longer worth living and that killing others would be appropriate revenge, which might explain why they have either expected to be killed by police during the episode, or took their own lives immediately after they completed their evil task.

    In summary, it appears that the core issue for these individuals revolves around mental health problems – specifically starting in childhood!

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Oppositional, Defiant Teens

    What To Do When Your Defiant Child Has To Have The "Last Word"

    “What do you suggest for a child with oppositional defiant disorder who always has an intense need to have the last word?”

    Because defiant behavior is all about control, many kids who exhibit it seem to have a strong need to have the last word. Remember that they don’t want the argument to end, because when it does, their sense of control ends also.

    Unfortunately, dealing with a child who has this need to win often generates in parents the same intense need to come out on top.

    Your strategy here would simply be to give your child the control he or she wants. Make the conscious decision to “surrender to win.” Go ahead and allow your child to have the last word.

    Once his or her goal has been accomplished, the behavior usually stops. “Parting-shot” comments can be ignored and consequences given later (similar to the strategy outlined here).

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    Oppositional Behavior: When Your Child Violates Rules Right in Front of You

    Let's look at a couple examples:
    • The parent is walking through the living room and, as she passes, the child puts her/his feet up on the coffee table (when told previously not to do so).
    • The parent tells all the kids to calm down and use their “inside voice,” but the defiant child immediately shouts out loud.

    Planned ignoring is a conscious decision to not attend to the behavior at the time it occurs. It does not mean ignoring the behavior forever, which would be condoning it. 

    Usually, when a child violates a rule immediately after it has been given, it is an attempt to engage the parent in an argument and seize control of the situation. Behaviors that are insubordinate, but do not endanger the physical or psychological safety of others, can be temporarily ignored.

    When your child sees that you are not going to “give up” control by taking the time to engage in an argument, the behavior often stops. If, however, when the behavior is ignored the child escalates it, you need to interpret the meaning of the behavior.

    It’s important to let ALL your kids know about the strategy of “planned ignoring.” You might say:

    “There are going to be times when someone violates a rule and it looks like I’m not paying attention or I’m letting them get away with it. I want you to know that I am choosing to ignore them for the time being because what’s most important is that I continue to teach and you continue to learn. I want you to know that the misbehavior will be addressed at a later time and the child will receive consequences for her/his behavioral choices. The rules haven’t changed.”

    ==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

    How do I get my over-achieving daughter to slow down?

    "I have taken the quiz and surprisingly found that I was a severely over indulgent parent. This angers me because I didn't think...