I'm Sick of Hearing Myself Yelling

I’ve come to the stage in my life where I’m beating myself up thinking I’m an awful mother as all I do is yell, yell, yell. I’m so sick of hearing my voice and I’m sure my son is too, however whether my voice is low or raised, my son never seems to listen to a thing I have to say or ask of him. He’s a good kid but he is constantly ignoring me. He pushes me to my limits and it seems that nothing I seem to do can make him happy.

Your son has learned to tune you out, because you give a lot of directions and you never follow through with any consequences. You need to reduce the areas in which you tell him what to do, and have consequences in the areas which remain.

Learn to distinguish between what are “kid problems” and what are “family problems”. “Kid problems” are things like remembering to do his homework, clean his room, put his laundry in the hamper, take his lunch to school, and wear his coat when it’s raining. If your son doesn’t do these things there will be natural consequences for him which don’t affect the rest of the family. I suggest you stop nagging about these things and let nature take its course. A few hungry lunch hours, poor marks, cold walks, and bad marks will shape your son up just fine.

Save your instructions for areas where his behaviour really affects other family members. For example, toys left in the living room where they’re in everyone’s way. For these things you need to have limits and consequences. For example, remind your son once, then put these toys in the “Saturday box” where they will not be returned to him until Saturday. Another example is physical aggression with other children. Kids who behave aggressively can be told what they could have done instead, then separated for a while. No yelling, no reminding, just action to keep them apart until they can learn to play respectfully.

Chores should be negotiated with your son and there should be an agreed-upon time by which they should be done. You aren’t allowed to remind him until this time is up. Then if the time is up and they aren’t done, you can switch off his TV or video game and require him to do the chore then. Otherwise, don’t interrupt his activities to ask him to do something for you. He has a right to choose his own activities just like you do, and not to be interrupted right in the middle of them.

Once you have decided what areas you need to let go of (“kid problems”) and what you need to follow through with (“family problems”), plan your consequences for the family problems. Then make your requests clearly without yelling, including telling your son the consequences. When he doesn’t cooperate, follow through with the consequences every time. He will learn that you mean what you say.