As a parent, are you a yeller? Most parents understand that yelling at their kids does not really accomplish anything. We know that there are probably some better forms of communication and more effective ways to accomplish our goals. But, did you know that yelling is also bad for our kids?
A 2013 University of Pittsburgh study showed that adolescents who were disciplined with yelling were more likely to have depressive symptoms and behavioral problems-and that the same behavioral issues that resulted in the yelling were more likely to continue. In fact, yelling and physical discipline have been found to be equally ineffective. It did not matter if homes were otherwise loving and stable.
When Yelling Happens
Parents often yell due to frustration over various issues-because kids are not listening, not doing chores, not getting ready for school, breaking rules, making a mess, being lazy. Most parents have a few specific triggers that tend to result in yelling; consider what yours are as you work on cutting down on your yelling, and switching it up with another approach to communication or discipline.
Though most parents understand that yelling does not help in these situations, how can we, as parents, make the switch to better forms of communication?
Here are six tools you can try to help you stop yelling at your kids:
1. Disengage: Did you come home to a hungry dog, chips on the couch, the T.V. on, shoes everywhere, and homework not touched-again? Rather than yelling at the kids to clean up and do their chores, take a deep breath, count to 10, and drink a glass of water. This will give you some time to regain control before talking, discussing, and trying to tackle any issues-it can wait 10 minutes or 24 hours. And remember, kids are just kids. They will make mistakes, it is all part of being a kid. Do not take their mistakes personally.
2. Evaluate Expectations: Do your kids never seem to do anything right? Evaluate your expectations of your individual children. Can your 5-year-old clean his room alone? Can your 10-year-old time manage her homework assignments? If you find that you are yelling about the same things every day, maybe your children still need guidance or support with certain tasks.
3. Listen with Empathy: After you have started using tools 1 and 2, talk to your kid(s). Talk face to face, using eye contact-not from another room or while your kids are in front of the television. No matter what the problem, listen to what they have to say about the situation. Try not to interrupt them as they explain. They likely know they have done something wrong, but listen to their explanation. Take it in and consider it before responding.
4. Problem Solve: When talking with your kids, work with them to problem solve. Help them find ways to make things easier. For example, should clothes be set out the night before? Can lunchboxes be emptied immediately upon coming home? Might it work best to do chores first, and then get homework done before TV or video games? Or, would a checklist of morning requirements or after school chores help? Your kids might have great ideas, so get them on board! Once they have contributed to the solutions, you can establish revised "rules."
5. Follow Through: Stick with any changes you made in your problem solving or rule setting, and keep in mind that it might take a bit for everyone to adapt to the new system. And, when you assign consequences, don't let kids off the hook. If they lose screen time for watching T.V. before chores or homework are done-don't yell, simply enforce the rule and ignore any drama or excuses.
6. Be a Role Model: We all want our kids to grow up to be happy, functioning adults. By taking steps to stop your yelling, you are also modeling good problem solving. Admit the problem, stick to the changes you make, adapt them further if needed, listen to input, don't give up, and you will show your kids by example that positive change is possible.