I love a line I read in a book once. It went something like this: “If it isn’t life threatening, if the house is not ablaze, if it is not an emergency, or if the child you are yelling to is not half a mile away, then yelling is the wrong choice in parenting.”
Yelling negatively and directly affects the way children see themselves and how they feel about their life and their place in this world. Yelling is also bad for the parents’ self-esteem since it is usually a behaviour that one regrets or is ashamed of.
It is important to realize that when a parent yells they are not editing what they say the same way they would if they were speaking in a calmer moment of discussion or conversation.
The first step one must take to stop yelling is to understand what triggers the yelling. Yes, one’s child is probably doing something naughty, however, it is important to think about what makes one choose to yell instead of speaking matter-of-factly.
Ninety percent of the time, the reason people yell is that they were yelled at as children. Even though they may have hated being yelled at it is all they know and simply fall into that same pattern during times of stress with their own children.
The second step is to realize what response is most likely to occur after one finishes yelling. Because yelling makes a child feel badly about themselves they will often lash back in order to protect themselves, and then become revengeful. They may, out of fear and sadness, stop the behaviour for a short period of time, however the anger and humiliation they felt will build up and soon enough they will lash out. A good example here is when parents think yelling works when their children are small, but are shocked when they experience severe disobedience when their children get a little older.
So, if one knows that they are yelling simply because it is what they have learned and they understand that the result of yelling never achieves the desired result, what is the alternative? What is the solution?
Instead of yelling one must train oneself to take a deep breath and then state the behaviour they want from their child in a matter-of-fact, assertive tone of voice.
If one’s child is begging them to watch TV when it is homework time, one should simply say, “You need to stop whining and go do your homework.” If the begging continues say, “You can stop begging right now or you can go to time out. What is your choice?” If the child is used to yelling, they will probably continue, so the parent should take the child by the hand and walk him/her to a predetermined time out spot. The amount of time the child should spend there is one minute per year of age. After the time is up one should go back and state what they expect from their child again – to begin their homework.
With this these new tools, one should feel more confident that they have the knowledge now to change from what they have learned from their own parents to what they now know is the better, more effective way to handle discipline.