If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve lost your cool with your children at some point. You may have the intention of keeping calm, but what if your little angel just drew all over the dining room wall with a Sharpie? Or your teenager took your car without asking?

As wonderful as kids are, raising them can also be a challenge. They act out in different ways and it may be difficult for parents to discipline them without losing their cool sometimes.

The Evolution of Discipline
Child psychologist Dr. Tamara Soles observes that our perception of discipline has been shifting.  “Parenting, and discipline in particular, has evolved over the last few decades,” she says. “In many respects, this shift has been away from authoritarian models (think strict rules, physical discipline, and “because I said so” parenting) to gentler parenting models based on respect and loving limits.”

In other words, discipline doesn’t have to be synonymous with punishment. Many parents believe you can’t teach your children to behave better by making them feel worse. The goal is for children to understand the basics of good behaviour and to learn how to regulate their emotions. At its core, discipline is about teaching, not about reward and punishment.

Does Yelling Have Negative Consequences?
Parents are often stressed, overburdened, tired, and under-supported. When their buttons are pushed, they may react by yelling at their children.

This is understandable, but Dr. Soles stresses the importance of remaining mindful. “Yelling, especially as a frequent strategy, can have significant impacts both short and long-term on acting out behaviours, self-esteem, and symptoms such as anxiety and depression,” she warns. Dr. Soles also adds that yelling undermines the very lesson parents are trying to teach their children, which is how to regulate intense emotions in appropriate ways.

Coping Strategies for Parents
Parenting without yelling may be easier said than done. Luckily, there are effective strategies that can help parents practice patience and deal with their children in a calm manner. Here are a few tips;

React less; When you’re angry, you may react in haste and lay blame. Instead, try to look at the situation objectively. Breathe and choose your words carefully.

Use positive reinforcement; Instead of always pointing out when your children misbehave, try to also praise them when they behave well.

Understand their motive for misbehaving; Communicate with your child and try to uncover what’s driving their behaviour. Try to empathize with and acknowledge their feelings.

Maintain a strong bond with your children; Being close and keeping an open dialogue with your children will make disciplining easier.

If all else fails, step away; If you find yourself getting angry and losing control, take a break. It’s perfectly fine to take a step back to recalibrate. You’re not able to make good decisions under extreme duress.

Keep in mind that children take their cues from their parents. So if they see you managing and regulating your emotions, they will learn to do the same in time. “Only a calm parent can calm a child,” Dr. Soles adds.