How To Get Kids To Listen Without Yelling


Do you ever find that you have to yell
in order for your kids to hear you? Today at Live On Purpose TV, how to get your
kids to listen without yelling. Like many of you, Vicki and I have a pet. It’s a
little dog, he’s a yorkie poo, cute little guy. We named him Mozzie and he is a
smart little dog too. I was wondering recently and I think I come in to
Vicki about this, has he trained us or have we trained him? You know what I’m
talking about if you’re a dog owner. We train each other. This is true with our
kids too. Our kids train us to do certain things, to act certain ways, to respond to
them in a way that they’ve trained us to respond to them and we do the same with
our kids. Notice that it’s going both directions because that’s going to be
important as we manage the dynamic of how we’re going to encourage our kids to
listen to us without hopping into the yelling mode. Now having introduced it
with my dog, what if your kids have trained you to yell? I had a dad come in
to talk to me once. I can’t remember all the circumstances around his particular
family but I think he was a single dad, he had about four or five kids and he
was just feeling so frustrated because every time he asked the kids to do
something, they would just ignore him until he got so frustrated and so upset
that he was yelling and then they would finally respond. Can you relate to this?
Does this happen at your place? So he asked me a question, he said, “Dr. Paul, why
do my kids wait until the twelfth time I’ve asked him and I’m upset and angry
before they’ll do something?” How would you answer that? Why did they wait and
tell the twelfth time? Because they have trained him to yell at
them before they respond because he has trained them to ignore him until the
twelfth time so I asked him a question, “Why do they do it the twelfth time?” Think
about that for a minute. What is different time number twelve
from time number one? Picture this, time number one dad is, “Hey guys would you
please clean up all of that stuff so that we can have dinner.” Alright, now
that registers with the kids as “ma-ma-ma what did dad say? I don’t know, was
it anything important? I don’t think so. Do I need to pay attention to that?
Probably not.” Time number two, “Guys did you hear me?”
Kids are hearing “Ma-ma-ma did dad say something? I don’t know, I don’t know if
he said anything. Is it important? Yeah, probably not.” Time number twelve, *gets mad*
popping coronaries and everything. How do the kids hear that? “Oh, dad’s talking,
sounds important. I probably better do something or I’m gonna get clobbered.”
That’s why they respond time twelve because they’re interpreting it as “Oh,
it’s important now, I’m going to get clobbered if I don’t do something now.”
See, he has raised his voice to the point where he triggers that understanding in
their little minds. So how are we going to switch this dynamic? My suggestion to him
was, clobber him the first time. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying you
should clobber your kids, I’m actually against that but what I am saying is,
move the real consequences up in the sequence so that they follow the calm,
cool, collected voice instead of the yelling voice. We’re going to train them
to respond when we talk to them calmly and in a loving tongue with a smile on
our face. In fact, we can train kids to understand that dad smiling means that
kids better start thinking but they’re not equating it with that yet. So
how are kids interpreting what we’re saying? I heard a phrase years ago that
makes a lot of sense to me, “Bad breath is better than no breath at all.” So they
don’t mind having a little bad breath, it actually makes them feel validated in
some ways, so yelling at our kids is not necessarily a punishment. In fact, from a
behavioral psychology standpoint, yelling is a trap because it is a reinforcement,
not a punishment. I’m talking strictly behavioral terms, those of you who’ve
studied a little behavioral psychology will understand that the difference
between a reinforcer and a punishment, a punishment decreases a behavior, a
reinforcer increases of behavior. Yelling is a reinforcer not a punishment.
That’s important to know because we inadvertently set ourselves up for more
problems when yell. It trains our kids to respond then instead of when we’re
talking calmly. Here’s a strategy that might help and I’ve used this with so
many clients and even with my own kids, understand that your kids always always
have choices, always, and if you haven’t figured this out yet, notice that what
you give them as choices, sometimes they pick something totally different, right?
So they’ve always got choices and at a very minimum, they have a choice to
either cooperate or not with you. So acknowledging their choice in the
matter, let’s set it up so that we have the greatest opportunity for success. I
need to go back to something that I’ve mentioned before and that has to do with
the rules of plumbing. Some of you may have not heard this from me yet but
there were times, early in our marriage when Vicki and I would find that
something’s wrong with the house and we need to have them fixed and we
couldn’t afford a repairman and so I got to do a lot of home repairs, some of
these involves plumbing. I’m not a plumber, I’m a psychologist, there’s a
difference, they both start with P, that’s about where the similarities end.
Except for this, I consulted with my dad about this plumbing project that I was
doing, he says, “Yeah Paul, there’s the only two rules to plumbing basically. Two
things you need to know.” “I’m interested dad, what is that?” He said, “Well the two
rules are first, water runs downhill.” Okay, I can see why that one’s important then
he pause for a minute and said, “Rule number two, don’t lick your fingers” And I
laugh, it’s funny right? But if you’ve ever installed the toilet, you know what
we’re talking about here. Water runs downhill, don’t lick your fingers, what
does this have to do with psychology? I think there are two analogous rules in
psychology. Rule number one, this is the water runs downhill rule, some things you
control, other things you don’t. Get clear about that, it’s important and especially
when you’re dealing with your kids, some things you control, other things you
don’t. Things like their attitude and whether they’re gonna cooperate or not,
you don’t control that, they do. Here’s rule number two, pay attention to
the things you do control. This is going to save so much heartache as a parent
because we’re going to focus our efforts on what is within our own control to
accomplish. Now let’s go to the strategy. Try this and make some comments down
below about what you experienced about this, I would love to hear from some of
you on this. Here it is, give them two choices, alright? Give
them two. Now there’s always more than two but you’re going to give them two
choices. Either one is okay with you, either one. We make this mistake as
parents sometimes to say, “Okay you do this or else..”
Or else what? We give them a choice that is one that we like and then they
go pick something that we don’t like. That’s why I want you to give them
two choices, either one you’re okay with. Let me give you an example. You can clean
your room yourself or you can hire someone else to do it,
either way it’s okay with me, as long as it’s clean to my satisfaction I’m good.
That’s an example of two choices you’re okay with either one, okay. For a younger
child, you can come with me on your own feet or you can come with me on my feet,
either one is okay with me. Do you see either way they’re coming with you. Are
you going to come or not? Are you gonna come or am I gonna leave you home? Look, if
you’re not willing to leave the kid home and you shouldn’t be, if they’re young
enough then this would be an issue, then don’t use that as a threat, they’ll see
right through it and your words will be garbage. We’re going to talk about turning
your words from garbage into gold so that when they hear your voice, your
melodious pleasant voice, they listen and pay attention because that’s gold. See,
we’re turning words from garbage into gold. So we’re gonna give two choices
you’re okay with either one. Now here’s the kicker, you control one of them. Why?
Because that one becomes default. That is the one that is going to happen if they
refuse to choose, they chose that one. So in the examples that I gave, you can
clean your own room or you can hire someone else to do it, either one is
really okay with me. Which one do you control? That one because if they choose
not to clean their room at all and they probably didn’t call up Annie’s maid
service, pre-paid of course, to come and take care of that room for them, then
what did they choose? They chose to hire someone to do it and who did they choose?
Chose you. Yeah, now you might be thinking “I’m not going to clean my kid’s room,
they’re supposed to do it.” Okay, fine. Remember we gave them two choices,
you can clean it yourself, you can hire someone else to do it. Either way is
okay with me, don’t go back on your word and say, “Actually I’m not okay with that
one now.” You be okay with it. I told my kids, they learned this pretty
early, you can hire me any time you want and then I gave them my rates. There’s no
kid out there wants to pay 200 plus dollars per hour to have their room
cleaned but that’s my rate, just saying okay. And I’m happy to come clean your room
for that much, just give me a call and we’ll make an arrangement. Nobody hires
me to clean their room for 200 plus dollars an hour. Why? Because that’s too
expensive. What if your kid hires you to clean their room? Well that’s going to
cost them something, I’m not saying you should charge them 200 bucks, what I am
saying is, it should cost them something and you need to be able to control that
cost, that’s another conversation that we’ll probably have in another video,
but you got to be okay with both choices because one of those you control
and that’s the one that is default. Go to the younger child example, you can
come on your own two feet or you can come on my feet, either way is okay
with me. You got a two-year-old who wants
to do everything “by myself” right? Have you heard that one? Yeah, which one did
they want to choose? Well they want to be in control of some things, they might
choose their own two feet but if they don’t choose to come with you, you get to
pick them up because they’re two and you can still do this, you get to pick
them up and they get to go on your feet. Now you might think well I just want
them to come, I don’t want them to fight me. Right? Here’s a little tip, think
versus fight, think versus fight. Every interaction you have with your kids is
going to invite them to do one or the other. What do we want them to do? Think
because if they’re thinking, they’re going make some pretty good decisions.
What do they want to do. Sometimes they want to fight
and so they’ve trained us to yell at them so that they can fight with us, it’s
not fair but it happens okay, and I don’t say they’re doing this maliciously, I
don’t think they are, I think it’s just working for them
and bad breath is better than no breath at all. We’re going to turn our words
from garbage into gold so that when we speak in that melodious loving tone of
voice that we always use as a parent now, they’re going to hear that and they’re
going say, “What?” Okay, so pretend for a minute that you give them that choice.
You can come on my own two feet or you or you can come on your own two feet or
you can come on my feet, either way it’s okay with me.
And then “I’m not coming” So you pick them up and you take them.
Now what happens the next time? Assuming that you were calm and cool and
collected, you didn’t lose your cool and fight. What happens next time when you
say, “Hey we’re going, would you like to come on your own two feet I would you
like to come on mine? Either way is okay with me.”
Do you see what we’re talking about? Would you like to clean your own room or
would you like to hire someone to do it? Either way is okay with me. If they just
paid a big cost the last time, they’re going to be thinking now. See now I’ve
accomplished think versus fight, we’ve turned our words from garbage into gold
so that we can talk to our kids and we don’t have to yell and we’ve just
trained them to respond to us differently because of how we’ve
approached them. So now maybe you won’t have to yell as much and your kids will
actually listen, you’ve turned your words from garbage into gold.
Live On Purpose TV has some more gold for you, make sure you subscribe.

100 thoughts on “How To Get Kids To Listen Without Yelling”

  1. It's bedtime and I'm telling my daughter to brush her teeth and put on her pjs. Ten minutes later, and several reminders later, she still hasn't done it….it's so frustrating. She doesn't really have a choice there, bedtime is bedtime. What can I do?

  2. I smiled and with a calm cool collected voice told them to do a chore!!! It worked!!! After I put the gun away I felt so pleased your method works…I upped the consequences!!🤣

  3. What would be your 2nd choice for your kid to stop hitting their sibling?
    You can stop hitting your brother or you can hit yourself?
    (Serious question…. my 3 year old is super aggressive with his 1 year old brother and our puppy)

  4. I'm not a mom I'm a teen actually but I just want to make my siblings behave when I'm studying without yelling cuz my mom doesn't even care. But thanks hehe they actually follow my rules without me yelling. My first rule for them is no whining
    I can pack your vids for my future kids thanks

  5. I brought my kids to the zoo….my youngest asked the entire time about getting something from the gift shop, I said no several times. I told him to enjoy the outing… we went back and forth about it until we left and he drove me nuts all the way home. This isn’t the 1st time and it happens when we go the store or the movies. I can’t enjoy time with my kids and have given up taking them places because I don’t know what to do. He’s 10 an teen years are coming. Advice please!

  6. Thanks for this. I am a newbie teacher and was feeling down with having to say so many negative things to some tough students. It's tough to change my "go-to" language but I definitely want to practice this more 🙂

  7. Really interesting
    My 3+ old toddler screaming shouting at 2pm without any reason
    He wants to playing at that time
    and wants only mom will be there no one else.

  8. I love listening to you talk -this is hilarious and I am definitely going to watch your other videos. very good job.

  9. Child please, if I clean my baby's room I'm throwing away some stuff. I'll make that room so easy for them to clean next time that they will clean it the next time.

  10. Once my sister refused to clean her room. My dad cleaned it. When she got home from school, she was told she couldn't go in. For a week, she slept on the couch, he picked her school clothes (he's color blind so that was interesting), changed in the bathroom, she couldn't play with her toys. Her room was kept clean for a long time after that.

  11. I disagree with giving your children the choice to either clean their room, or hire someone to clean it, because it doesn't teach them to take on the responsibility for themselves directly..Teaches them that they can just pay someone, and reinforces laziness. I would appreciate, and humbly accept any opposing opinions. Thank you

  12. Thank you for the video. I'm excited for tomorrow, tired of living the same day, shouting all of the time. I'll get to work and let you know my results. Thank you.

  13. I am so glad I found this! I have been yelling at my 5 year old almost every day and I hate it but it was the only thing that got his attention. I'm definitely going to try this starting tonight. Do you have any books, products or classes?

  14. What a great video on very important topic.i am feeling that you are talking about me.i have 2 boys 12 and 8.both are very different personalities.and my 12 years old is very well behaved in school.i never heard any complaints from school about his behaviour and studies but in home he is opposite.i have to ask him 10 time to do one job.and the result is yelling and punishments.really frustrating.i watched all your videos about parenting.and in every video I am learning a lot.thanks for making this life saving channel.

  15. I need help with my 4 yr old. He screams at anything or everything that is not as per his wish or ways.

  16. I told my 5 year old to tidy his room and if he didn't anything on the floor goes in the bin. 10 minutes later I noticed everything on the floor was on his bed hahaha. I need to change tact. Great video, really good tips. We went through a stage of fighting and yelling and it just makes a toxic environment. Our biggest trouble at the moment is although his behaviour is much better he likes to play fight and punch people. How do I get this to stop when other adult influences do this with him so he thinks it's fine.

  17. I wouldnt pay anyone on the planet 200 an hour for anything…aside from flying onto an asteroid and redirecting it….thats worth 200/hr…even 350/hr maybe….thats all..

  18. My old man would say
    Son, this isn’t a request. Then walk away.
    If I didn’t hop chop to it
    I pretty much knew I was screwed.

  19. Hi I’m finding that I’m always yelling at my 2 year daughter to stop doing something she shouldn’t and idk know how i can stop yelling at her the first time and continue yelling for her to listen to me

  20. I'm here because I'm babysitting 4 kids ages 3 to 10 for 10 days 😭😭. It's a nightmare I'm super overwhelmed but I get money at the end it. This my practice for now and after i get married i plan on learning more about child development and parenting courses before having kids

  21. I’m glad I found this video. I have a 2 year old and it is ROUGH right now. Everything is a battle and I was at the end of my rope and not wanting to yell all the time. Thanks for this video.

  22. Tell them once. If they dont do it give an evil grin, say it again, and shut the wifi off with an evil grin until they do it.

    Make them scared of the supervillain evil grin… 😀

  23. I really appreciate you and all that you teach. I listen to many of your videos as I have a teenage daughter and a pre-school son so I need all the help I can get! 🙂
    I have given my three-year-old son choices from early on: "You can walk to the car or be carried." He always chooses to walk by himself. However, he then runs. He does not come when I call him. To try to carry him, I have to chase him and catch him first. It gets exhausting, frustrating and at times embarrassing when in public. I am clearly doing something wrong because he keeps doing it, thinking it is fun. He does get a consequence for doing it, every time. Still… the battle continues. If you have any advice on how to guide him better, I warmly welcome it.

  24. do you think its possible for two married adults to unintentionally train the other to yell at them like the child and that the narcissism is nothing more than an illusion provoked by immaturity or are we thinking too much into this now?

  25. Thank you so much. Video popped up and I'm so grateful. I've been struggling with this in my job with kids for years. I had wondered why kids were more difficult now than when I was young. In the "old days" the choice was "do as I say or I smack you." I really loved the conclusion of the video. You summarized and included more detail to help us understand more about what we do wrong. You have a lovely way of combining humor and ideas to make us think. I have to tell you I learnt more watching the video than all my University education and in the field experience combined. ❣️

  26. I am a teacher in a classroom of two year olds and the choices technique is my gold!! “ Do you want to help clean up you center or do you want to go take a break in rest center?” They will pick clean up because they know they can’t participate in the next activity. 😁

  27. Omgosh it worked I gave my 5 year old 2 choices she can clean her room by going on her own to feet or I could bring her in there with my two feet and she choosed her own to feet. Wow I didn't feel angry at all.

  28. for an 8 yrs old child. is it too late to start all over again and apply this? thinking she might used to the yelling…how to transition a child lets say if the child used to being yelled at?

  29. my kid picks up the toys in the living room and then tells me to vacuum …. he does this out of nowhere at least once a day lol

  30. My son at 4:
    Adult, “Would you like to wash your own hands or would you like me to wash them for you?”
    Son, “I think you’re trying to trick me.”
    Now he’s almost 11, and these “choices” do NOT work for motivation! He always keeps me on my feet. Any thought for the highly intelligent child? He’s not necessarily disobedient or dishonorable in spirit, just smart.

  31. I yell every morning to get my 3 yr old to brush her teeth, get dressed and to hold my hand when we cross the street. One day she did everything i said with absolutely no battle and it was the best day of my entire life

  32. Thank you so much. We have been going through a very difficult time with our nearly 3 year old because "I want to do it by myself" which lead to impossible situations. We now give her 2 choices and her tantrums have reduced dramatically. I love the phrase "either is fine with me" …oh my goodness, what a difference this has made. It has made us MUCH calmer as parents and given her a choice which she carries out willingly.

  33. What if there's a situation when the action is required? Lets say the kid is running to the road. You can't give'em "two choices".

  34. My dad was a lot like this
    I had different relationships with my parents, my relationship with my dad being good, and my relationship with my mum being unsteady
    Growing up my mum would just yell at me, hit me, and talk about private things in front of other people. Now I have very little trust for her, and I get pretty annoyed at the sound of her voice. When she starts to explain something or tell me to do something I instinctively cut her off, not wanting her to raise her voice or start yelling about something (she does anyway). If I had the choice I would immediately go with my dad, even if I had to sit quietly while he was in a meeting.
    my dad was completely different. He would ask me to do something in a calm low voice, and most of the time I would. When I shrugged him off he ended up asking me again, but with the notion that it was important that it had to be done. Other times he would give me choices, and few times he would say something like "Can you please get blank done before your mum finds out". Now I have a really strong relationship with my dad. I feel like I can talk to him about anything, we talk calmly to each other to compromise when we disagree, and I fully respect his wishes when he tells me not to go somewhere or do something. Only once has he yelled at me about something, and he's never hit me in my lifetime.

    The relationship you build with your child carries into adulthood…

  35. I asked them nicely almost 3 times and they don’t listen and this is daycare one doesn’t want to listen he does want he pleases hmmmm

  36. I will try that with my almost three year old grandson. I’m a little concerned because he is trained not to listen and throws things and hits his sister and his mother and other grandmother let him get away with it. I recently had a conversation that leads me to believe that they think I don’t treat him fairly because when he throws things I respond with shock and say, ‘you know better than that’ and I tell him to pick it up and he says ‘stop it’ and ignores me. He says ‘stop it’ whenever he is told to stop or do something he doesn’t want to do… it’s kind of cute, but it’s turning into a real problem. And they keep letting him get away with this and I’m the bad guy for trying to stop it. They are coming to live with me in about 7 months and I would really love nothing more than to be on hand to babysit whenever they need me and I’m available… but I have reservations.

  37. That's very brilliant.. I wish there was YouTube when I was raising my kids. But I'll share the video with my children, so they can use that technique with their kids. Thanks

  38. As a classroom teacher, this is the simplest and most practical advice I have heard to manage my teenage classroom. Thank you sir!!

  39. Thank you, my son is autistic and extremely clever but I can see that options given to him will work better than the current way I ask him to do things. I feel less frustrated just at the thought of what I’ve just learnt. Sending you good vibes from the UK. 🙂

  40. my Dominican mom used to say “te callas o te callo” which means “either you shut up or i shut you up”! does that count as two choices? 😊😂😂

  41. I’m going to show this to my reading teacher, she always yells to tell of kids (mostly for stupid reasons) and to get attention but it really scares me…like…it is all calm and then suddenly she starts to yell! She is so stupid,I honestly hate her

  42. Peace be to you! I am a new subscriber. My wife and I have four children. My dad used to beat and threaten my siblings and me. 😲👋🏾 That was the way to raise kids "back in the day" (especially Black parents😅). I wanted to do things differently when I became a parent. I have been using the calm, collective voice. Also, I wanted my boys to learn that you don't get people to do what YOU want by physically threatening them. Especially, as young Black men where our urban culture often espouses hyper-physical aggression. Keep up the great work you are doing!🤓👨🏾‍⚕️🏃🏾‍♂️👍🏾

  43. Hey there, I’m here watching all of your videos in order to parent my teacher which creates a bad dynamic between my sister, my mother, and I. I think my sister need extra help especially with the way my family is set, so your videos are super helpful! I’ve helped her deal with her emotions but there is still a long way to go! Wish me luck

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