Recently in a parent coaching session a parent shared a feeling that I’ve felt a few times myself: “Sometimes my kids deserve to be yelled at when I’ve asked them to do something multiple times and they ‘forget’ or don’t do it!” Not only might we feel like they deserve it, but it also feels good to let off some of our pent-up steam.
Over the years, we’ve learned a few things about what’s really going on when we yell at our kids:
1. We may get action, but it comes with a price.
When we demand action from our kids, we may get the behavior we want; however, we will lose their respect, and ultimately, over time, this can eat away at the relationship.
2. Our yelling has more to do with us attempting to gain control than helping our kids learn.
Feeling out of control is not a pleasant feeling. Yelling tends to give parents a false sense of control. Rather than focusing your child on learning to follow instructions or proactively problem-solve, yelling puts the focus on the conflict between you and your child instead.
3. It’s hard to expect our kids to be in control and respectful when we are modeling the opposite.
Our kids tend to view us as hypocrites when we act like unruly kids, justify our actions, and aren’t held accountable for our poor behavior and out-of-control tongue.
4. We are communicating powerful messages to our kids.
Whenever we interact with our kids, they receive impactful messages from us about who they are and how we view them. When I yell, I may communicate these:
- Child, you are incapable of doing what I ask the first time since I nag, coax, and remind you multiple times to do it.
- Child, you are irresponsible and cannot manage your life without my scaring you or manipulating you into “obedience”.
- Child, you are unable to make good choices and handle the consequences when you choose poorly.
- Child, you are in control of me and my emotions. I need you to do what I say in order for me to be okay.
While we may get exasperated sometimes, these are not messages we probably want to be communicating to our children over the long run.
Apply It Now:
Now, when we begin feeling like our kids deserve some yelling, we can stop and take a deep breath. We can pray for God’s patience and grace for ourselves and our children. And we can remind ourselves that there are more effective ways to deal with our frustrations than to yell.
- Think of a situation in which you typically yell at your kids due to their misbehavior. What are your goals when you yell?
- If you could get outside of the situation and look at it objectively, what messages might your kids receive when you yell this way?
- How might you address your goals/concerns without yelling – in ways that would gain your kids’ listening ears and their respect?
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