Health and welness: Ways to stop yelling at your children (Part 2 of 3)

Candace Brown, registered psychologist

Northern Alberta Psychological Services

The previous article briefly introduced the problems with yelling. This article continues in that direction but also adds some solutions to the problem of yelling.

The field of psychology has done various long-term research studies regarding spanking and yelling and the findings show that these forms of punishment have negative effects on children’s behaviour.

Yelling, in particular, seems innocent enough but the damage to the child’s spirit is serious. Add name-calling to the yelling and the effects are much worse. In fact, insults and putdowns are considered emotional abuse. Likewise, yelling can have the same detrimental effects as physical abuse.

In essence, there are two consequences of yelling: One relates to the yeller and the other corresponds to the person on the receiving end of yelling. Often parents claim that after yelling, they feel awful. This negative feeling often corresponds to guilt, regret, humiliation and/or other maladaptive emotions.

The people on the receiving end of yelling, can feel demoralized, scared, distrust, insecure, and have long-term consequences to their mental health such as anxiety, low self-esteem, and lack of emotional control.

Additionally, children can be more susceptible to bullying because their understanding of self-respect and boundaries can be skewed.

Doing something that later makes a person feel bad might indicate that there is a better way to accomplish the goal. Every parent, whether a shouter or not, can benefit from alternative parenting techniques.

Just as a carpenter/handyperson has a toolbox full of various tools that are needed at different times; parents can be in a situation where one solution that has worked before, may not work in a similar condition. Without a diversified toolbox, it can be difficult to spontaneously think of a different way to address a problem.

The first step in tackling yelling is to recognize that it is a problem. If parents defend themselves, for instance, “I wasn’t yelling, I was just talking loud,” it is likely that little change will happen. The yeller needs to recognize there is a problem and then want to change the way the problem is handled.

The next step is to recognize the triggers that set the yeller off. Some of these triggers could relate to a sense of discomfort, such as when a teenager defies parental authority. It is not that parents have power over any individual, but parents should be able to set rules and expect them to be followed by the child/teenager.

Maybe the yelling happens when parents feel like they are repeating themselves and not being heard. This kind of frustration can be challenging; however, there are ways of dealing with that problem without yelling. Calm discussions over the inappropriate behaviours/attitudes provide children the feeling of security.

Children who are spoken to with respect also feel loved and accepted as human beings despite their bad behaviour or poor attitude. Therefore, the next step parents can take to manage yelling is to set goals to control their own emotions.

The next article will continue with more tips on how to stay calm when it is difficult to do so.

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