10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling At My Kids: A Response
The other day I received an email from a mom, who happens to be a good friend of mine. She sent me a link to a post, found on The Orange Rhino. The post, 10 Things I Learned when I Stopped Yelling At My Kids, was truly fascinating. The woman who wrote this post did not yell at her children for an entire year. Yes, that’s right, an entire year. 365 days. I was awestruck that anyone would be up for this challenge. In fact, this woman surpassed a year and had been going strong for 399 days at the time the post was written. Amazing. As I started thinking about this more, I began to slowly realize that I was hung up on the number. The “365” or rather the “399,” whichever way you look at it. And then I realized I was missing the whole point of the post because at the bottom of the page was the phrase “Yell less and love more one moment at a time.”
I am a huge advocate of living “in the moment.” Nonetheless, this is a struggle for me and that’s why I try to practice being “in the moment” and encourage others to do so as well. I try to remember we can’t control the future or change the past, all we really have is the present. That being said, our actions in the present, especially those that involve our children, will influence the future. So yelling less is absolutely an effective goal. Worrying about how many days you can make it without yelling is less important. Set a goal that feels realistic to you. Or simply set the goal of yelling less, one moment at a time.
In 10 Things I Learned when I Stopped Yelling At My Kids, the writer discusses the top ten things she learned from not yelling. All were excellent and valuable lessons, and I encourage you to read them. From a professional standpoint and just in case you need more to convince you, here are a few other reasons why yelling is ineffective:
When we yell at our children, we are modeling that we’ve “lost it” emotionally. When we yell, we are not in complete control of our emotions, and the chances are high that we’ll say something we will later regret because our rationality is compromised.
When we yell at our children, we seem much less credible when we later say to our child, “Son, stop yelling at your sister.” Children learn from modeling their parents’ behavior and they’ll be the first to call hypocrite.
Kids tend not to “hear” us when we yell. Sure, they hear us yelling, our raised voice and our angry tone, but they don’t hear the content of what we’re saying. Contrary to what anyone says, yelling at our children does not increase the likelihood that they’ll do what we want in the future.
As an alternative to yelling, take a big breath in like you’re going to yell, but instead of starting to yell, exhale deeply and say nothing. Walk away, clench your fists in your pockets, anything to buy a moment of time. Because if we have a moment, we have a choice, and we can chose not to react. We can chose to take a little break, yell in a different room away from the kids, or go to the liquor cabinet (kidding!). Aren’t we always telling our children to make good choices? So let’s try it: “Yell less and love more one moment at a time.”