A stern or firm voice is often perceived as a "yell" by loved ones. "Don't yell at me," a child may protest to his mom, when her voice is quiet but very business-like. "I'm not yelling at you," she'll answer through gritted teeth. "I'm just telling you that it is bed time NOW." Although she is factually correct, it doesn't matter. What the child is really complaining about is that he is feeling rejected by the way his mom is speaking. He FEELS yelled at even if that isn't literally what's happening. Mom doesn't have to become more pleasant - she's likely acting the way she is, because the youngster hasn't responded to her initial more pleasant request(s). Nor should she deny that her tone is, in fact, unpleasant. Instead, she can acknowledge and address her child's feelings: "I understand that it feels like I'm yelling at you right now and that is because my voice is showing my irritation. I am not feeling happy after I've asked you so many times to get into your pajamas and you still haven't done it." This congruent message is good for the mental health of both Mom and her child.
Friends & Family can sign up at www.dailyparentingposts.com