Tired of yelling to get your child to listen? A parenting coach reveals her 3-step formula for setting boundaries and break the cycle of anger and guilt

Kids are begging you to set boundaries for them, apparently

Father Scolding His Son For Being Disobedient
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Being a reactive parent is no fun for you or your kids, and it can feel hopeless when you reach a place where your kids won’t listen unless you yell.

The common scenario might go a little something like this: you’ve asked your child nicely to come downstairs because dinner’s ready; to tidy their toys; stop watching tv so they can get ready for school (you get the idea) and they don’t do it. You lose your cool and end up yelling to get them to actually listen. Trying and failing to set clear boundaries is a recipe for parental burnout, and while all your efforts are in the name of raising happy, successful children, fighting a losing battle can add to the already huge pile of mum guilt

So, what’s the real reason you have to shout in order for your kids to actually listen to you? Parenting expert Tia Slightham just dropped a truth bomb in her latest video on TikTok. She talks about the struggles parents have when they ask nicely, remind, nag, then eventually lose their temper with their kids. It's frustrating, but "you set that boundary."

Why does my kid only listen when I yell?


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Tia, who also has a Masters in Early Childhood Education, said: "Now, I’m not pointing my finger at you, and I’m not blaming you, but kids will do what works, and because they’re born needing to push boundaries until boundaries are found, if you ask nicely; you give reminders; you nag and then you finally yell and lose your sh*t, they learn that they don’t need to listen when you ask the first time. They listen when the boundary is set and that boundary you set is when you yell.

"So, if you want stop this cycle, we have to learn how to set concrete, clear and consistent boundaries so your kids know upfront what you need them to do."

"We have to learn how to set concrete, clear and consistent boundaries so your kid knows upfront what you need them to do."

Tia Slightham

Here’s the thing: setting boundaries isn’t intuitive, and learning how is just a case of having the right information. It might seem like an authoritarian way to do things (one of the most strict parenting styles), but if you struggle to set clear limits and boundaries, Tia says that’s when the pushbacks and tantrums are more likely to crop up.

On a blog post, Tia writes: "Kids are born with two pre-determined jobs: one is to please you and the other is to push boundaries until boundaries are found. If you don’t have set boundaries, your child will not feel the need to listen because they don’t know what to do to please you. They will continue to not listen as a way to push your limits until you set boundaries."

3 tips to set clear boundaries

  1. Set your limits in advance: Clearly define your expectations and rules before situations arise. This proactive approach helps children understand the boundaries, making it easier for them to navigate their behaviour within established limits.
  2. Teach your child up front: Communicate the reasons behind the set boundaries, emphasising the importance of respect, responsibility and safety. By involving your children in the discussion, you empower them to comprehend the rationale behind rules, fostering a sense of understanding and cooperation.
  3. Follow through: Enforce the established limits consistently, re-enforcing the message that rules are non-negotiable. Following through with consequences for crossing boundaries helps children internalise the importance of respecting those boundaries.
Daniella Gray
Family News & Wellbeing Writer

From building healthy family relationships to self-care tips for mums and parenting trends - Daniella also covers postnatal workouts and exercises for kids. After gaining a Print Journalism BA Hons degree and NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, Daniella started writing for Health & Wellbeing and co-hosted the Walk to Wellbeing podcast. She has also written for Stylist, Natural Health, The Sun UK and Fit & Well. In her free time, Daniella loves to travel, try out new fitness classes and cook for family and friends.