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Parent to Parent


Don’t make yelling part of your morning routine

By Betsy Flagler
John Rosemond
Betsy Flagler, who lives in Davidson, writes the nationally syndicated Parent to Parent column.

Give your family a tune-up so “back to school” doesn’t mean going back to a stressful morning scramble.

If you coax and yell to get your kids to do what you want them to do, every request you make becomes a power struggle. Not a pleasant way to head off to school or work.

Look at your parenting style. Ordering, correcting, demanding perfection? Going overboard with your desire to please your child? It’s your way or the highway? Having your own meltdowns? Your choices influence how your child behaves.

An effective tool to get past yelling is to use a calm voice, says Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions. Controlling your tone of voice and squelching your instinct to yell reduces stress for both you and your child, she writes in her book, “If I Have to Tell You One More Time” (Jeremy Tarcher/Penguin, 2012).

Your voice is a good indicator of your mood. Kids pick up on it and mirror your behavior. Yell and they yell. Speak calmly and your children will tend to adopt your calmness, says McCready. Her website,, includes a webinar. Her tips include:

• Start with sticky notes as a “calm voice” reminder. Put them on your mirror, fridge or dashboard.

• Smile to help maintain your even voice.

• Listen to your tone of voice.

Other tips for a calm morning:

• Instill the idea that everyone in the family is working together.

•  Pretend another adult is in the room watching.

• Try a bit of humor to take the edge off.

• Figure out what triggers your frustration.

• Mornings go more smoothly when expectations are spelled out calmly – with no yelling – each step of the way. Otherwise, kids get distracted, stop to pet the dog, turn on cartoons and so on.

• Have your child set out her clothes, put a pair of shoes together and pack her school backpack the night before.

• Don’t skip breakfast; just keep it simple. Think grains, plus dairy, plus fruit. Kids need the brain food.

Email Betsy Flagler at

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