7 things to do instead of shouting at your kids

The reasons we shout at our children are many. From asking them (again) to get dressed to finding crayon scribbled all over the kitchen wall, there are all sorts of daily triggers in the life of a parent that warrant a raised voice. It's true that shouting (temporarily) relieves stress but afterwards it's a different story. There's a nagging feeling of having lost control, of both the situation and ourselves. We feel a million miles from the calm, collected parent we'd like to be.

"Shouting is ineffective, especially if you do it often," says clinical psychologist Emma Citron.

"It just becomes background noise, and your child will learn to zone out. That said, there are some situations in which shouting is necessary and legitimate - for instance, if your child is about to run out in front of a car. Shouting only in these situations means everyone concerned will recognise it's an emergency, rather than 'just mummy shouting again."

Shouting also elevates already sky-high stress levels further. "When you shout at a child they have a fear, or 'fight or flight' response," says child development expert Dr Rebecca Chicot, co-founder of Essential Parent. "This means they are not able to process what you are saying, just that you are shouting, and they'll respond by either shutting down or shouting back."

Remember too that children don't see a situation in the same context adults do. Dr Clare Bailey, lead parenting expert at Parenting Matters, adds:

"It's normal to feel cross if your child charges across your freshly-mopped floor in muddy wellies but they don't attach the same importance to a clean floor as you do. Try to remain empathetic to the situation."

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