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Parenting: Discipline – Let’s Stop the Yelling

Yes. I have been yelling a lot at the kids even though I know it’s as bad as smacking them. It’s obvious that I’ve regressed to the primitive mode of reacting and I’m stuck in a hole so I started looking for help when I came across the article “Why Yelling Doesn’t Work” and it took me to the book by Sharon Silver – Stop Reacting and Start Responding. So I read that and it really helped! I have been yelling less (haven’t stopped but it’s much much better – at least I don’t hate myself at the end of the day), I have been more understanding, and I have seen some better behaviour – not perfect, but definitely better.

While I was looking for more resources to help me stop yelling, I came across some interesting articles on the subject of parents yelling at their children that introduces some interesting perspectives that I wanted to write about. You may want to read them, too. It seems that for some parents, shouting is the new spanking and the belief is that this is the result of a generation of parents who have decided that we want to be better parents who don’t smack our children. However, according to the Last Psychiatrist, we aren’t being real when we try to suppress our urge to yell. As a result, we reach our final straw and end up yelling at our children over small things instead – like spilled milk.

I don’t entirely agree with everything in that article but I do think the Last Psychiatrist puts forward some interesting arguments that we should acknowledge. Yes, we are human and to err is human. We get angry and we yell. Is it right to yell though? Should we allow ourselves to yell when we’re angry? Here’s what I think…

It is important to acknowledge that we will get angry and sometimes we might yell no matter how hard we try not to. What’s more important is how we deal with that anger. Is it okay to yell at our children? I don’t think so. If it’s not okay to yell at another adult, it’s not okay to yell at the kids – even if they deserved it. But like I said, we’re human and that means we’ll slip up from time to time. Sometimes we yell at other adults (when we know we shouldn’t) and sometimes, we’ll yell at the kids (although we know we shouldn’t) and when that happens we need to acknowledge the mistake and apologise for it. I think that in itself is a lesson in modelling for our children – people make mistakes, even Mummy and Daddy, and we say “sorry” when we’re wrong. That doesn’t mean we can throw out all our anger management attempts. It just means we don’t have to beat ourselves up for slipping up.

The other thing I have realised is that we are very much like our children. When we’re tired or hungry (one or the other may be a stronger trigger for different people – hunger for Daddy and tired for me), we also lose it more easily. Being aware of our triggers probably won’t be enough to stop it, but it does help because being aware helps us to implement preventative measures (not always possible, though).

Part of the problem is because we’re “multitasking, overachieving adults”. I used to think this is a consequence of growing up and having the added responsibilities of owning your own house, having a job (if you’re a working parent), looking after the kids, etc. Now, I believe the problem is because we’re all living life at top speed. Think about how much life has sped up over the past 20 years. I find myself sleeping later and later because there isn’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I need to get done. I go to bed knowing I still have a long list of “unfinished business”. While I’m lying in bed waiting to fall asleep, a few more things that I forgot all about get added to that list which I’ll forget about again in the morning because I’m overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that needs to get done. And I know I’m not in isolation. If you’re reading thing post and have gotten this far (and I’ll bet you’re skimming at top speed), I’m sure you’re nodding your head in agreement. 

We don’t get enough sleep and we’re tired. When we’re tired, we don’t function at peak efficiency. We forget to anticipate things and that can cause things to rapidly spiral out of control. For instance, we forget that it’s Monday and there are after school activities and we don’t pack the snack or extra water, then we end up with a meltdown because someone’s hungry, but we’re too tired to deal with a meltdown and it’s peak hour and that car just cut in front of me and blocked my turn-off! In isolation, they’re fairly small things that we can cope with, but compounded together, it’s a molotov cocktail waiting to explode.

Do you want to stop the yelling, too? May I suggest taking up the Orange Rhino Challenge (thanks to a Mum who shared it with me on Facebook!)?

Here are more resources to help:

Further reading:

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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