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How to Discipline A Child Without Hitting and Yelling

As parents, we all have THOSE moments where our patience just runs out. So it’s crucial that we learn how to discipline a child without hitting and yelling.

We have to understand that angry behavior on our part just makes everything worse. If a child learns to fear a parent, they will only do just enough to avoid getting caught. Instead, we must set boundaries, be firm, fair, and consistent, and find ways to effectively manage our own stress so we parents can stay calm.

So in today’s post, we’re diving deep into the world of parenting.

Then we find ourselves yelling until we’re blue in the face, only to see them repeat the same poor behavior the next day.

We say to ourselves “what am I doing wrong” or “there has to be a better way!”

We’ll explore how yelling and hitting a child affects them, why it doesn’t really bring good long-term results, and how we can keep our calm and composure in the face of tantrums and misbehavior.

It IS totally possible to learn how to discipline a child without hitting and yelling.  And you will see the sanity return to your household once you implement these tips.

Co-authored with parent and co-founder of Toys Advisors,  Kevin Doyle.


How can I discipline my child without hitting?

Disciplining them is all about helping them to understand the basics of good behavior.

And it works best if you have a warm and loving relationship with them.

As we get into more below, hitting, yelling, and losing your cool actually has the opposite effect on your kids from what you’re wanting. Yes, at the moment, they may blindly comply out of fear. But is scaring your kid really the end goal?

You may have to try a few different techniques to see what works best for your child, but some or all of the following are great places to start:

  • Timeouts – timeouts work great for some kids once they are around age 2
  • Ignore them – Often kids act out to get attention. If you don’t give it to them, they may lose interest in misbehaving
  • Consequences – If they throw their dinner on the floor, guess what? They don’t get dessert or a bedtime snack. Yes, they will be hungry, but they will quickly learn to not do that. If you give in, you send them the message that this behavior is how to get them what they want
  • Take priveledges away – Whether you call it karma or physics, every action has an opposite reaction. Thus, take a privilege away when they misbehave. Depending on their age, that could be no screen time for a day (or week), canceling a play date or sleepover or other cherished activities.

Parenting is hard, and it can be very difficult to keep our emotions under control when they are out of control.

However, if we want to curb the negative behavior and start to build a solid foundation of good behavior, we have to parent differently. We have to set the example and not allow them to cause us to behave badly. After all, we are the parent, right?

Is it OK to yell at your child?

It’s easy to lose your temper when you’re in constant power struggles with your kids.

Daily issues over what to wear, what to eat and when to go to bed can drive us crazy.  Once a power struggle begins, it can be difficult to move beyond it. You become more and more frustrated until your temper gets the better of you.

Then you react in a way that shows your child that you’re not really in charge of anything.

Whatever your child is doing, losing your temper does not help. If yelling at your child worked, being a parent would be easy.

Losing your temper doesn’t work to change their behavior because you react in the heat of the moment instead of thinking rationally. Thus it’s crucial that we learn how to discipline a child without hitting and yelling.

How do I stop screaming at my child?

Children misbehave for different reasons – they may have trouble adjusting to changes or sometimes they’re simply frustrated or overtired.

When learning how to discipline a child without hitting and yelling, it is important for you as a parent to know your motives and keep your cool.

Ask yourself whether you are taking it out on your child because their behavior embarrassed you.

When you react because you feel that your power is being challenged, you often exert more power to get your child to respond.

Of course, the more you try to exert power, the more your child is likely to react badly.

Your children need to feel safe, even when they are being disciplined. Shouting and yelling may scare them into submission. But it will not teach them how to behave towards other people and how to manage their emotions.

If you need to give yourself a time out, do it! Keep your emotions in check, remember to breath and understand that you are the adult and they are the child.

If, however, you are wondering if your child’s behavior might be getting worse instead of better, I highly recommend you take a moment and check out one of my most read parenting posts on about Child Behavioral Problems and solutions.

In that post, I (Jeff) walk you through how to recognize the difference and the most helpful and healthy ways to redirect the behaviors. Just know there’s a huge difference between normal growing pains and maturity and a more serious disorder and my post makes that distinction clear.

Just click the link to read it on my site. 

How yelling affects a child?

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health finds that yelling makes kids more aggressive, both physically and verbally.

Yelling is a form of anger and aggression. As such, children become afraid. They learn to fear us instead of loving us. Ultimately it erodes their self-confidence and makes them insecure.

A firm, but loving approach, on the other hand, reassures the child. Ultimately this helps remind the child that you are angry or disappointed in the behavior and choices they made but not at the child as a person. A small, but important distinction.

Thus if you want your child to be less wild, less out of control, and not learn to fear you or think hitting and yelling at others is acceptable, we have to find a better way.

The crucial importance of setting boundaries


When your child is a toddler, you can start introducing some discipline.

At this stage, a young child is starting to experiment with different behaviors. From early on they need to understand that if they do something that crosses the limits you have set, there are consequences.

Your children need to know what you expect of them in terms of behavior. They also need to know that when they do not behave accordingly, they will be disciplined fairly and firmly.

With learning how to discipline a child without hitting and yelling. one thing that can help is to plan your responses ahead of time.

If you know there are certain situations such as going grocery shopping, eating out in restaurants or joining other children in playgroups that are likely to cause conflict, try to figure out ahead of time what you are going to do in those situations.

It’s easier to decide what to do when you’re sitting calmly in your kitchen than when you’re busy grocery shopping. It’s not uncommon to see mothers losing their cool with their kids in a grocery store.

If, for example, you’re going to a child’s birthday party or other kid events, explain to them before you even get out of the car what you expect of them.

You may find it helpful to give them some simple rules such as “Don’t hit or bite other children”.

Never embarrass children by scolding them in front of other children. Rather take them aside, explain that they have not obeyed the rules you gave them and that there are consequences for this.

Above all, make sure to stick to the stated consequences and apply them equally among all your kids. Nothing sends the message faster that bad behavior is OK like you backing down at the moment or treating one child differently than another.

One of my (Jeff) most shared parenting posts is about how successful parents Avoid Common Parenting Issues. If you are looking for additional tips, definitely take a moment and check that post out! 

There’s one tip on there that’s so simple but effective, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been using it for years! Just click the link to read it now on my site.

How do you discipline a child who doesn’t listen?

Explain to your child how their behavior makes you feel.

Your child takes cues from you. Tell your child how it makes you feel when they yell at you, instead of just yelling back at them.

Explain that it hurts your feelings and makes you feel sad. Even a young child will understand this. Learn how to discipline a child without yelling by getting in touch with your own feelings.

Positive reinforcement

  • Positive reinforcement works far better than yelling ever did
  • Praise your children when you see them behaving well and they are much more likely to repeat the behavior.
  • Also, ask them how it makes them feel when they behave correctly
  • When they feel their own internal motivation, that can drive success faster than any external praise

Spanking is not effective

  • Spanking a child because you have lost your temper and are out of control, is not okay
  • There is a fine line before this may end up being abusive
  • It does not teach them how to control their behavior and sends the message that it is okay to hit
  • Ultimately, it simply encourages the child to learn how to hide future misbehavior better to avoid getting caught
  • It teaches children that aggression is a way to express their frustration

When children are over-stimulated, it may be difficult to get them to respond unless you act clearly and decisively.

If you are mentally prepared for how your child may act, you have a better chance of not losing your temper.

Sometimes children become locked in a power struggle with you and they don’t know how to stop it.

It’s up to you as the parent to know how to avoid and manage it.  In doing so, always choose your words carefully and speak in a calm voice.

In learning how to discipline a child without hitting and yelling it’s crucial that we learn to control ourselves.

If you are struggling to identify your parenting style, or are worried it’s not the most effective style, check out my (Jeff) post on the Worst Parenting Styles. Just click the link to see it on my site. The absolute worst thing a parent can do might surprise you!

There are a lot of parenting styles and pros and cons to each. But there are some styles you’ll want to steer clear of to be an effective parent.

Final Thoughts

In this post, we took an in-depth look into the world of parenting.

We examined the crucial role our own behavior plays in teaching kids the right and wrong ways to act and respond. Specifically, we learned how to discipline a child without hitting and yelling.

We talked about some steps we can take as parents to help keep our cool, we looked at scientific studies on why hitting and yelling actually has the opposite effect on our kids from what we are hoping to achieve.

You can have peace and sanity in your house without losing it and these tips can make a big difference.

Of course, none of us are born knowing how to parent, so if you’re still adjusting, or having a hard time being a parent, it can be vital to really come to terms with the Role of Parents in their kid’s lives (click to read more on my site).

So why not take a brief moment and review some of those key points?

If you like this post, please follow my Parenting board on Pinterest for more great tips from myself and top parenting experts!

About the co-author of this post:

Kevin is the co-founder of Toys Advisors. He has a lovely family with his wife Anna, his son Tom and his daughter Jane. He spends most of the time with his family, he learns and shares about parenting, DIY.

Photo credits (which aren’t mine or which require attribution):

Scream by David Salafia is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell