Bethan O'Riordan Psyhotherapist

Denying that you have feeling too could be causing you to act as Shouty
Parent instead of Gentle Parent

Q: I try my best to be a gentle, respectful parent, but I am not always the best at staying calm and I can be a yeller. I am looking for more strategies to keep myself accountable and be the parent my children need.

I think that the phrase gentle and respectful parenting has convinced many parents that they are never allowed to have their own emotions. I know that the reader here isn’t explicitly saying that. They’re not saying that they don’t mind that they shout. They want to be calmer and yell less. It’s essential to set that as your goal. Nobody in the world will ever be consistently calm and not ever scream. If you do achieve this, it’s more than likely that you’ll be suppressing something inside.

First, let’s talk about being a gentle and respectful parent and what that means to you. Gentle parenting is so often portrayed as talking about, explaining and labelling emotions. However, as a therapist, I see that as one part of parenting. It often wholly opposes what parents are trying to achieve because the language of emotions isn’t logic. It’s not speaking about them, but rather it is feeling them.

When I read your question as a therapist, I inferred that you’re trying to be gentler with your children. You’re looking for practical tips to stay calm and not shout as much. Yet it’s the being accountable and being the parent your children need that speaks to me. So often, in the gentle parenting world, I see parents who are completely exhausted because they’re just trying to be nice to their kids all the time. Yes, we have to be nice to our kids. That’s essential. That said, we’re also trying to teach our children the edges of life, and we must use the word ‘no’. We have to keep them safe. We have to help them develop their understanding of their surroundings, how to be and how to act.

Refusing them of their whims and requests means that they may have meltdowns. They may cry. They may get upset. This is where being the parent you want to be will be challenging. You’ll have to knuckle down and commit to managing these situations. Parents only yell when they’re not being heeded. Parents only yell when their children aren’t doing what they want them to do. Parents only yell when they’re overwhelmed, and it can be overwhelming to say no to a child. Prepare for the emotional fallout. Your child may become upset or angry or use hateful words towards you. This can be exhausting for parents.

So many parents I’ve met believe this goes against their ethos of gentle parenting. ‘Wow, my child is so upset. This isn’t gentle.’ However, perhaps we might use the expression authentic parenting instead of gentle parenting. We don’t want our inner world to spill into the children’s. We want to ensure that when we do have to help them learn the edges of life, we are not doing that with shame or criticism and that we can hold a neutral position within i

I hear that you want to shout less and be calmer. Usually, this means looking at two things. It means looking at your self-care routine and how you look after yourself. How do you feed your internal reservoir as the day goes on? It also means exploring your triggers. What parts of your children’s behaviour and your own actions are likely to move you towards being a person who needs to shout to be heard? Don’t forget that you’re building a relationship with your children, which takes time. You’re carving out a parenting identity, and this takes time too. To begin, I would note when you are a shouty parent. examine one situation in which you’re a shouty parent and see how you can realistically act differently, then explore your motivation. If I were
going to give you a million euros not to shout, you’d probably manage it!

People will say it’s impossible, but it’s not. It takes practice. It involves healing your inner child’s wounds as well. Often a parent is shouting because of their unmet needs rather than something their child did or said. Remember, in the parent-child relationship, children bring up emotions within their parents:
feelings of being out of control, anger and frustration. ‘I want to shout to be hard, to get my power back.’ I want you to know that you are not alone and will find your way. It’s about carving out the identity of whom you want to be and working through what your gaps, blocks and resistances are to being that person. Perhaps finding a space to work through those emotions privately in therapy might be helpful for you.

If anything in this blog resonates with you and you would like support to create change, you can book a free introductory call with me here to explore your support options. Make sure you’ve your free 5 Steps to Calmer Parenting and if you’re looking for immediate support, you’re welcome to start your free 7 day trial inside the Calm Parenting Club.

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