Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekly Column: Yelling Isn't The Answer

When the daily act of parenting gets difficult, it’s easy to raise my voice in anger. There are days when yelling happens without much thought to why it’s probably not the best way to handle my kids, and it never ends well. Here are some good reasons I’ve found to avoid yelling, and to speak respectfully even in the most frustrating of situations.

Yelling doesn’t calm the child.
Instead of diffusing the situation, yelling is likely to make my already upset, chastised, or embarrassed child even more volatile. And a more volatile child is usually not what I’m going for in the discipline department. Since being yelled at makes my child react with fear and frustration, it only makes sense to speak to her with calm tones instead. Hearing a reasonable voice from me helps her bring her own emotions under control.

Yelling escalates my own frustration.
When I yell, my blood pressure rises right alongside my anger. Thinking creatively about a resolution to the problem is what I should be doing, but yelling only undermines my grasp on the situation. Yelling seems to start a cycle of irritation and frustration that will only stop when I somehow manage to calm myself down. So if I don’t want my own mood to swing completely out of reasonable range, I need to modulate my voice from the outset.

Repeated yelling is eventually ignored.
Whether it’s just because they are sick of hearing me yell, or because my raised voice is so common that it no longer holds any urgency for them, I’m afraid my kids will shut out my words if I’m always yelling. I’d rather speak calmly under normal circumstances, and save my yelling for dangerous situations. I want my raised voice to get their attention when they’re about to run out in traffic, not when they’re emptying the Kleenex box.

Yelling begets more yelling.
If I’m trying to teach my kids the value of speaking respectfully, how hypocritical must I seem to them when I yell? Shouting in anger is likely to teach my kids that it’s perfectly acceptable to yell whenever I feel like it. I’d rather them see me feeling emotions honestly and responding to them, but with reasonable words, not hateful shouts. I’d rather they learn how to discuss a frustrating situation, than lash out and yell at people whenever things don’t go their way.

Hopefully, by giving my kids a chance to learn calmer ways to respond, I’ll be teaching them about kindness, patience, and compassion. Now, I’m off to practice what I preach – because it DOES take practice. Wish me luck!

[Online version here.]


  1. So true! Really great advice. Now if only I could implement it... :)

  2. i agree but i must confess that i yell at times. I think i read somewhere that the number 1 thing moms feel bad about is yelling.


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