back to top

Yelling Ends All Possible Hope for Progress

Keith McCurdy
Keith McCurdy

Recently while talking to a parent of teenagers a comment was made about speaking the “universal language” in their home. I said, “Oh, you mean love.”  The response was “No, I mean yelling.”  It is amazing how blunt honesty can make you laugh.  It is true, yet in some ways sad, that yelling does seem to cross all boundaries of ethnicity, culture and language.  It doesn’t appear to be limited to any specific gender or socio-economic level and shows up in virtually every home.  Yet, I have never found a single person that can truly, logically defend it as a healthy thing.  It doesn’t sound good, rarely gets the result we are looking for and often embarrasses us when we realize the windows are open or the neighbor is at the front door.  So why do we do it?

Over the years I have asked thousands of parents why they yell, and have heard almost as many answers.  Most of the reasons fall into similar categories and here are three of the most common:  You think it will help your child understand and be more motivated; You are not managing your own emotions; You don’t know what to do.

There are many of us that either have learned or just believe that when we yell, get loud, or just sound threatening, our children will do better.  The theory is that when they see how mad I am they will understand how important this is and they will do better with it.  Another more negative idea is that when they realize just how mad I am they will want to avoid getting me this mad in the future so they will be more motivated to do what I ask.  It is the notion that somehow our anger will teach a lesson.  This approach runs the risk of developing a fear based system in the home which in turn will damage any long-term loving relationships with our children.

The second reason we yell is that we have poor emotional control.  This means we have difficulty managing our own emotions to the point that they get entangled with other processes. The most obvious example of this is when our children are defiant and we take it personally.  The thought in our head is “how dare they…..”  At this point we have lost perspective and instead of looking at the situation as one of defiance or violation of a rule that needs a consequence, we see it as a personal attack.  We become offended and wounded and our anger builds.  In response to this we get defensive and then react.  We forget that part of teaching a child is dealing with defiance, it happens a lot.  This type of parent is the one that kids refer to in my office as “crazy.”  As one kid put it regarding his Mom, “she’s got major issues.”  Kids in this category realize that the responses they get are out of proportion and lose respect very quickly for their parents.

The third and most often seen reason for yelling is that we don’t know what to do.  When we don’t have a plan for discipline, teaching, accountability, etc. we get caught off guard.  We are not personally offended, we don’t believe that fear is a teaching tool, we are just unprepared.  Defiance creates frustration, we can’t think of what to do in response because our emotions are over-riding our rationale, we can’t believe this is happening again, we experience a sense of helplessness…….then we yell. In this situation we don’t usually lose a relationship with our children, but we do open the door to being manipulated by them, seeing poor behaviors continue and in general we make the whole process of parenting more difficult and uncomfortable.  This lack of having a plan or strategy can even take us over time to where we operate in one or both of the categories mentioned above.

The next time you find yourself motivated to yell, ask a couple questions.  What am I angry about?  What did they do wrong?  Do I have a consequence for this?  Does this seem to happen all the time?  If you pay attention to what and when you yell, you may see that like most parents, it is the same things again and again.  This is a sign of needing to develop or follow a better system of accountability and consistency with your children.  Clearly they are not being motivated to change their behavior and you are still yelling. If you find that you are taking everything personally or just getting too angry, back off and don’t attempt to engage your child until you are calm and have decided what you are going to do.  Get your own emotions in check before you engage your child.

Yes…..it is still OK to yell if your child is in danger, about to catch their little brother on fire, or are out of ear shot.

By Keith McCurdy
[email protected]

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles