Wednesday, February 27, 2019

How to Choose Calm Reactions Over Yelling

The phrase 'kind words and calm reactions' what does this make you think of? What type of emotion does it bring up inside of you?

Maybe you were raised in a house where kind words and calm reactions oozed from your parents. Maybe you were raised in a house where kind words were few and far between and you don't want to think of your parent's reactions. Did you enjoy the kind words? Do you wish your parents had used more kind words?  

What type of words or reactions do you use with your children? This is obviously a personal reflection question, not a judgmental statement.

Being a mom is a daily challenge, talk about taking up your cross daily. PHEW! 

Some days the little people in our house make us want to pull our hair out, we are short of patience and our filter is not as strong as it should be. We spout off some type of sarcastic response, we yell, and we sometimes use unkind words. SIGH! I'm preaching to the choir here by the way.

Proverbs 14:1 says, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."

Your house is in your hands, you decide if you want to be wise and build it with calm reactions or tear it down with yelling and unkind words.

Stop and Lower Your Voice
The opposite of a yell is a whisper. Have you ever tried using a soft voice when you are upset with your children? It takes some self-control and being intentional but it will really work. They will stop what they are doing to listen, they have to or they won't be able to hear. 

How many times do you tell your kids when they are playing to use inside voices? Why would it be ok for you to yell out of anger and not them when they are having fun? 

Stop and Squat Down

When you approach them to talk about their actions, stop and squat down to their level and have them look you in the eye. It will be impossible to yell at them when you are that close. You definitely will not want to say an unkind word to them when looking them in the eye. 

This action allows you to be on their level and it also calms you down enough to think rationally. 

Stop and Use the Oreo Method
No you're not going to indulge in Oreos as opposed to yelling, although I like that idea. The Oreo method is putting a suggestion/negative between two positives.

For example: They spill their milk.
Instead of yelling and saying "You always spill your milk!"
Try: "Oh no! Good try. Maybe next time slow down. You're just growing so fast you don't realize how long your arms are getting." 

Tone is everything. If you use the Oreo Method in a sarcastic or mean tone, then you've erased everything you said.

Yes, it will mean you take a breath first and don't default to your normal yelling reaction. But how would you like to be talked to for doing something on accident?

Stop and Take a 'time out'
The purpose of a time out for children is to have them stop and think about their actions. It is to help them calm down and just step away from whatever they were doing before. This is a strategy that adults sometimes should incorporate when they are upset. 

Being transparent with your children and saying, "Mommy is upset right now and I don't think I'm going to make good choices, so I'm going to take a time out." is OK! Then go to your room, bathroom, front porch, back porch, laundry room, closet (you get the picture). Go somewhere quiet for a couple of minutes so you can stop and think and pray for God's wisdom. Take some deep breaths and set your mind that you are not going to yell. 

You may need to do this a couple of times a day. But modeling for your child what to do when they are upset will give you words to use when they are upset and maybe make a bad choice.

 *Before you walk away from your child, make sure your child is in a safe place.

Stop and Look at Yourself
This is not an actual look in the mirror, unless you need to, but this is an
introspective look at yourself. 

Why do you default to yelling? Are you overwhelmed? Tired? Overscheduled? Copying your parents? (ouch, I don't like this one).

In her book Unglued, Lysa Terkeurst has a chapter titled "The Exploders". In this chapter she offers self-control as an option to stop from exploding. A quote that I underlined is: "The one who holds their tongue, holds the power". This is a powerful statement. Read it twice if you need to. 

When you yell, you are giving your child the power to control you. Self-control is a fruit of the spirit (one that is a daily struggle for me). If this is an area you struggle in, pray without ceasing. 

Revisit these blog posts for more encouragement:
Self-Care Ideas for Moms

Stop and Pray
Have you ever been in the car driving and asked Jesus to help you because of rain or maybe because of an almost accident?

This is the same concept. When you get upset, stop and ask Jesus to help you. Yes, right there OUT LOUD in front of your child.

Think of the impact it will have on your child for them to see you stopping in the moment and asking Jesus for help. 

He will help you. He loves your child and has plans for them, that's why he chose you to be that little person's mom. 

Stop and Model the Golden Rule

The golden rule states, "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you." (Matthew 7:12) 

The word others, in the golden rule, is an interesting word because I'm almost certain that when you read it, you don't consider your children to be others. Aren't they though? When Jesus said this he didn't specify who the others were but it wasn't only the people you associate with or your neighbors, it was everyone you come in contact with. Who do you come in contact with more on a daily basis than the little people in your house?

In order to model the golden rule, stop and think how you would want someone to react to you if you made a mistake or did something on accident?


Did you happen to notice a common word in all of these suggestions.

These are the parents of your future grandchildren, how do you want them to speak to your grandchildren. Remember more is caught than is taught. If you treat them with respect and love by using calm reactions, this is what they will copy. It won't be over night, they will still need guidance remember they are little but it will happen as they mature.

They are kids, they learn by making mistakes. Is it frustrating to have to clean it up? Yes. Is it upsetting to have to tell them again? Yes. Doesn't God do it for us though? While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) He forgave us before we even were born.

If you have a bad moment and step back into old habits, stop and shake it off. Take control of your thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5), apologize to your child and then try again. Self-control takes practice and prayer.

Here are some book suggestions to help you on this journey:

Embracing Everyday Motherhood is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This is at no added expense to you.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

I'm praying for you!


  1. Great advice. It's easy to get into a habit of blowing up and shouting if you don't check yourself and learn to cultivate new patterns of godly behaviour. Children do pick up on these things and even incorporate them into their own speech subconsciously. Thanks for posting.

    1. Yes Robert this is so true, kids copy what they see. It isn't always intentional but it happens none the less. Often times, as parents, we don't realize what we sound or look like until we see it in our children. Thank you for your comment!

  2. This is such great advice. I am not a mother, but a lot of this can be applied in a more general sense in how we treat those around us. It is important to teach by example with children, but also with those around us who might need a reminder or might not know Jesus yet. Great post!

    1. I agree completely! Living everyday with the intention letting my light shine and leading other to Christ is what it is all about. Thank you for your kind words!