I'd had it. My 5-year-old had finally pushed me over the edge. It was a bad day all around, from the moment he woke up demanding breakfast to the second time he pushed his brother. We all have days we want to sell our kids to the zoo (my children would certainly fit right in there). However, I hate yelling. I would love to say this is because I know yelling is bad for my children's sweet little souls, but I mostly hate yelling because it makes me feel like a crummy mom.

There is a better way. In fact, I'm going to suggest 20 better ways. Here are 20 things you can do the next time you lose your cool with your kids - no yelling required.

Have a "time in."

This alternative to "time out" involves you holding your child until you're both calm enough to deal with the problem.


Kids' antics will either make you laugh or drive you nuts. Choose to laugh. You'll live longer.


Singing is a vocal, non-yelling way to burn off aggression. Turn on some tunes and belt it out.

Walk away

Sometimes the best plan of action is to leave until you can deal with bad behavior in a proactive way.

Count to 10.

It sounds silly, but this time-tested trick slows your heart rate and gets you thinking clearly.


Go for a jog, attend a yoga class or put on an exercise video. Working out releases endorphins.


Before you hand out punishment, ask your kid for her side of the story and really listen to her answer. It may soften you up.


Fill up your lungs deeply, and take a few cleansing breaths. Getting oxygen to your brain allows you to think more clearly.

Send the kids away

Get the kids out of your hair by sending them to another room or outside. There's no shame in needing a little sanity-saving alone time.

Pass it off

Assign childcare to your spouse, partner or a babysitter until you're able to stay calm.


Ask your child questions about his behavior. See if he can identify a better way to behave in the future.


Scrubbing the floors, vacuuming up a storm or overcoming a mountain of laundry gives you a sense of accomplishment on a bad day.

Get outside

Fresh air does you and your kids good. A brisk walk may be the difference between a disastrous day and an enjoyable one.

Put yourself in your kid's shoes

Have some empathy, and see the world from your child's point of view. He's probably having a bad day too.

Connect with your kids

Do something everyone enjoys to get back on the same page as a family.

Remember who's in charge

You are the parent, and you set the emotional tone of your household. Are you letting your child's mood influence yours? Reverse it.

Follow through

When you've said "If you do that one more time..." more times than you can count, it's time to follow through with consequences, even if it creates more work for you.

Call a friend

Sometimes you need to vent. Pick up the phone and call a sympathetic friend or family member to commiserate with.

Brainstorm solutions

Don't keep fighting the same battles. Put pen to paper and search for permanent solutions.


Sometimes you just need to mentally check out. That's OK, so long as everyone is safe and you have a time limit.

Positive parenting often results from just one extra second of thought. Use that extra second before you yell to think of a better way to handle the situation. Even if you delay punishment in order to keep your cool, remember that a parent in control always gets better behavior from kids than a parent who models impulsive yelling. Set a good example, and treat your kids with the same respect you want in return.

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