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Parenting Tips

ScreamFree Parenting 101

by Hal Runkel, MS, LMFT
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Book Cover Image. Title: Screamfree Parenting:  The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool, Author: by Hal Edward Runkel, Hal Edward Runkel

Screamfree Parentingby Hal Edward RunkelHal Edward Runkel

  • $9.75 Online Price

My name is Hal, and I'm a screamer. That is, to say, I'm a parent. See, whether we like to admit it or not, all of us parents tend to scream at our kids. Some of us more than others, to be sure, but we all lose it every once in a while. In fact, there's a University of New Hampshire study that says a full 98% of all parents have unleashed an emotionally damaging outburst toward our kids.

And we know the other two percent are just lying.

Yes, we're all screamers at least occasionally. Even those of us who preach the value of becoming "ScreamFree." People like me, the family therapist who wrote a book a few years ago called ScreamFree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Our Kids by Keeping Our Cool. Perhaps you've heard of it, perhaps not. And if you live anywhere near Atlanta, perhaps you've heard me, the so-called expert, still screaming at my kids. See, my name is still Hal, and despite writing the book and launching a non-profit organization and counseling practice around it, I'm still a screamer.

Now, to be sure, I'm a ton better than I used to be. When I'm on my game, I actually feel pretty good about my ability to lead my children with calm, clarity, and connection--despite their greatest efforts to push my buttons. And most of the time, I feel more capable and confident than ever. When I'm on my game. That is, when I'm actively concentrating more on my behavior than the behavior of my kids. And that's really the key difference. Focusing on controlling me, instead of my kids, is the key to becoming the calm, confident, ScreamFree parent I want to be.

I believe this so strongly, and have experienced its power so profoundly, that here's what I now say to parents all around the world: The greatest thing we can do for our kids is learn to focus on ourselves.

Those are the words that launched that first book, and those are the words that have already begun to transform the lives of numerous families. And those are the words that can revolutionize all of your relationships, beginning with your relationship to your children, today.

Now, I know those words, at first, can sound backwards, even heretical to your previous way of thinking about raising kids. But bear with me. Sometimes it takes a radical shift to create positive change. And ScreamFree Parenting is first and foremost a shift in focus. It is an approach that takes our attention off our kids, off our spouses, off our friends and family, and places it squarely upon ourselves. I am the only one I can ever control. I am the only one I would ever truly want to control. We've all tried in vain to control others, particularly our kids. We've tried to control their behavior, their thoughts, even their feelings. We've tried to make them feel happy or secure, only to be blown away at how quickly their attitudes and emotions can change.

There's a famous New Yorker cartoon with the heading: "Dream Remote." The picture shows buttons like "Clean Your Room," "Wake Up", "Do Homework," and "Deal with the Dog - He's Your Responsibility." Boy, we'd never have to get angry if we had one of those! But we cannot make our kids feel anything they don't want to feel. We can't make them do anything they don't want to do. There is so much about them and their lives that we cannot control! We can't even protect them from every danger, nor can we prevent them from ever making a dangerous choice. But there is something we can do. We can learn to focus on ourselves.

You can learn to control you. You can choose how to behave, even when your kids choose to misbehave. You can choose your responses; you can calm yourself down. You cannot control your kids, but you can influence them. This is ScreamFree Parenting: learning to calm your own anxiety in order to help your kids grow up (and finding yourself growing up in the process).

Now, to some folks, ScreamFree Parenting sounds as impossible as SweatFree Exercise, or StressFree Family Vacations. I've actually had people say, "But if I don't scream, then my kids won't ever listen to me!" For others, screaming is not a problem. Some just find it easier to let things go, or simply give in. But you know that's not working either. In fact, we call that just another form of screaming -- the passive-aggressive kind that just leads to more and more resentment (and to our kids learning less and less responsibility).

ScreamFree Parenting is not discipline-free parenting, endorsing some form of laid back, hands-off relationship. It is also not passion-free parenting, advocating an emotionless relationship with your kids. ScreamFree Parenting is about getting a grip on ourselves as parents and taking charge of our own responses. It is about basing our actions on our principles, not on the emotional whims of our children.

For example, your daughter leaves her bike out in the driveway, and it's the third night in a row. Now, what do you want to do? You wanna run that thing over, and then back over it again. What do you do instead? You go storming into the house, screaming, "How many times am I gonna have to tell you to bring your bike in?" (Just once, I want to hear a kid reply, "I dunno, Dad, you tell me--you're the one in charge of your own voice.") Well, a ScreamFree parent has a new, calm option, one that leaves them feeling sane and capable, and leaves the kid feeling...dare i say it...responsible.

"Hey honey, I see that you rode your bike again today; I hope you had a good time. I just want you to know that you've left it out in the driveway, and so now you have a choice. You can bring it into the garage where it belongs, or you can choose to leave it out. I'll respect either choice you make, and so if I find it out in the morning then I'm taking it away for a week."
That's it. You don't have to say anything else. You don't have to remind her before dinner, nothing. You don't even have to think about it until the next morning. Now she has to think about it. All you have to do is get up in the morning and respond accordingly. That's the ScreamFree way.

ScreamFree Parenting provides a way to connect with our children without being controlled by them. It provides a way to discipline our kids without demeaning them. ScreamFree Parenting shows the way to influencing our kids without having to manipulate them into compliance just so we can feel better. The world doesn't revolve around our children; they can't handle that kind of pressure anyway. By focusing on ourselves we stop the destructive patterns of that mindset. By controlling ourselves we teach our children to do the same, to control themselves. Isn't that what we want?

I believe ScreamFree Parenting can be the beginning of a powerful revolution in your life, a revolution of personal integrity and interpersonal harmony. By learning to focus on yourself, by choosing to take charge of your own emotional life, you will experience a renewed potential to influence others, especially your kids. You'll discover new heights of safety, growth, human dignity, and freedom in your relationships.

That is, when you're on your game. Take it from me, this is all far easier said than done. After all, I've admitted to you that I'm still a screamer. But as I'm growing in my ability to take responsibility for my screaming, my kids are growing in their ability to take responsibility for all their actions.

Are you ready to do and experience the same?  
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Meet Our Expert
Hal Runkel, MS, LMFT
Therapist and Author
Hal Runkel is a world-renowned expert on helping families face conflict and create great relationships. A licensed therapist, relationship coach, international speaker, and organizational consultant, Hal is the bestselling author of ScreamFree Parenting, and the newly released ScreamFree Marriage.

Hal is Founder and President of The ScreamFree Institute, an international training organization dedicated to calming the world, one relationship at a time. Here he has applied the most advanced approaches to family relationship theory in his practice, and developed the revolutionary ScreamFree Living methodology. Hal now presents the ScreamFree relationship programs to audiences around the world through live training events, teleconferences, webinars, and publications. In addition, he actively trains and supervises hundreds of other family professionals working to further the ScreamFree movement.

Hal and his message have been featured on over a thousand media outlets, including NBC's Today Show, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, and The 700 Club, and with his wife, Jenny, hosted "ScreamFree Radio" on Atlanta's 750 WSB-radio.

He and Jenny have been married for 17 years, and they are raising their two teenagers in the Atlanta area.
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Book Cover Image. Title: Screamfree Parenting:  The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool, Author: by Hal Edward Runkel, Hal Edward Runkel

Screamfree Parentingby Hal Edward RunkelHal Edward Runkel

  • $9.75 Online Price