How to Avoid Nagging and Yelling at your Teen: There is a Way!


No parent wants to nag or yell at their kids. But let’s face it, it happens. And when it does, no one feels good – you OR your kids. So how do we parent in a way that’s most effective, all while keeping our cool? We spoke with parenting guru, Amanda Houle, who is the host of the podcast and website, Parenting with a Punch about her philosophy and coaching experience on this topic.


Q: What are some tips to "be your best self" as a parent, particularly when you feel pulled in so many other directions and patience can be running thin? 

A: As simple as it seems, having a plan of attack for the minute you walk in the door could save you lots of aggravation with both your spouse and refraining from having to yell at your kiddos. Most of our programming and default is to raise our voice. Why? Do you raise your voice or yell at colleagues? Why then would you with your loved ones? Is it because you were raised that way? You have anger problems? It is important to analyze the reason and come to a conclusion to help you understand the nature of your reaction and how you can curb your first instinct:

  1.  Ask yourself this one question: What do I need to fully show up and have the energy I need to be the parent I know I want to be?

  2. It sounds cliché I know, but you have to fill your cup FIRST. Wake up five minutes early to meditate. Believe me, it can make all the difference in the world eight hours later when you walk in the door.

  3. If you find yourself stressed the moment you walk through the door, communicate: “I need a minute to decompress.” Set a timer if you have to so your children will hear it and walk away. It isn’t selfish!

Yelling at your kids can be many parents default mode. What are more effective ways for parents to express anger/disappointment/stress?

There is a difference in your tone of voice and raising your voice. You can speak calmly and firm without raising your voice and getting your point across. It will take PRACTICE and consistency is key.

Quite frankly it is our approach to life that causes stress not your children or partner. You have to be ready to create change and show up in your parenting a different way if what you are doing is causing you immense stress. Here are some tips:

  1. Communicate your frustrations by simply saying “I am upset that you just hit your brother or that you are refusing to do your homework.” When you model a healthy way of communicating your emotions you teach your children to do the same. Children pay attention to your actions.

  2. Model taking space or requesting you need quiet time to process your frustration with your child so that you are not reactionary and responding immediately with anger. This will alleviate hostility and avoid power struggles.

  3. Create a list of non-negotiables, rules, and structure in your home. This way you can refer back to it when you find yourself getting upset that your child isn’t listening, knowing that it is their responsibility to make their own choices and YOU choose how to respond.

Disciplining a toddler or younger child is different than disciplining a tween or teen. What are the most effective ways to discipline kids as they get older? 

I would like to reframe discipline to setting limits. We all have them. I am not an advocate for punishment, reprimand, or taking away. My approach focuses solely on positive reinforcement strategies. Children have privileges—bottom line.

  1. Set your tween/teen up for success by first creating boundaries and expectations. Example: Yelling at your parents is not an option, nor is interrupting conversation with an elder, etc.

  2. Hold your child accountable by following through on your word. Set rules. Example: Homework must be done by 6pm. If homework is not done, then the natural consequence is not getting access to your iPad.

  3. Use the “First/Then approach.” Example: First take out the dishes then you may go to your friends house. You have to teach children to take responsibility for their own actions.

The last thing any parent wants to be is a nag. How does a parent instill self-motivation in their kids? Is it better to let them fail at something than take care of it for them? 

Fail. Fail. Fail. It is important to instill a healthy relationship with your kids, especially to create the bond where they can naturally come to you for anything. This starts with letting your children learn how to problem solve on their own in all areas of life, from academics to peer relationships. Nobody likes a nag. I would like to mention that it’s not so much the motivation you should be worried about rather than teaching the art of taking responsibility and owning our actions as human beings.

Here are some tips to approaching a situation like this with your child:

  1. Begin with an endearing comment such as “that must have been tough.” Proceed to ask, would you like my help? The key here is “if” they would like your help. Proceed accordingly.

  2. Set deadlines and follow through with your word always.

  3. Utilize natural consequence approach by creating limits and instilling home values as the parents. For example: eating at the table with no phones. If children do not follow your principles then they do not get access to their privileges, which essentially mean anything that allows their preferred activity. Then it’s back to the drawing board in using first/then approach.

Being strong-willed is ultimately a good quality for our kids to have in relation to peer pressure, following through with their ideas, etc., but it can be hard to deal with at times as a parent. How do parents encourage this behavior but also manage it? 

Strong willed children are the leaders, world changers, of our future generation. It is important to handle their behaviors in a specific way that encourages them to continue to shine their light in the only way they know how. I find that often we feel the need to control children in place of allowing them to be their authentic selves. As a family you have to discern what is allowed and what isn’t allowed. It boils down to your values and principles in life.

  1. Create boundaries, expectations, and set limits. Once you relinquish control, the power struggles will decrease.

  2. Make time for yourself and quality time with your spouse to re-charge, re-connect and return to parenting duties refreshed.

  3. Have frequent check-ins as a family to discuss how things are flowing in the home. Speak to your children about ways that you can change your behavior outside of your values that may lessen the need for you to yell. Parent/child relationships are still working relationships. Be respectful of each other.


 Amanda is a Parenting Guru, Designer Nanny and host of the podcast, Parenting with a Punch show. Amanda has worked with families from all walks of life giving her a great perspective in sharing her no-nonsense yet loving and goofy approach when appropriate while working with families. “You have a gift with children that very few people have. Your intuition with how to deal with kids and help parents feel empowered is amazing.” Amanda brings her experience from NYC to Boston, MA with a Masters Degree in Elementary Dual Special and General Education and a specialization in Early Childhood. You can find Amanda on a typical day beginning her days with mindfulness and fitness while seeing clients, walking her dog Brooklyn, or enjoying yoga/spin class. Amanda is also currently in the midst of writing her first parenting book, which is set to launch in the upcoming months. Contact her through her website

PLEASE NOTE: The writers of this article are not medical professionals. The information in this column is not intended and should not be construed as providing medical or psychological advice, but rather to offer readers information and provide a perspective to better understand the lives of themselves and their children. Articles on this website may be opinion based. The articles are not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, psychotherapist or other licensed medical professional. If you do have health or safety concerns, please get in touch with a healthcare professional.