If yelling worked, parenting would be easy, wouldn’t it? We’d simply scream, “Do it!” and our kids would listen and obey. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work. I believe parents yell and scream because they’re angry and frustrated and have exhausted all other methods to get their kids to listen and behave. So, they resort to power and dominance to get the job done. And that works—provided that their kids are
weaker than they are. But if you yell a lot, your child will learn that yelling is acceptable and will quickly learn how to yell back. And once that happens, you’re on the same level as your child, and your shouting will have no effect.
In my opinion, no parent should resort to yelling or shouting to get kids to listen. It gives the child too much power. It also doesn’t help you resolve the issue at hand, whether it’s getting your child to empty the dishwasher, stop watching TV, or come home on time. The other problem is that yelling turns you into your child’s emotional equal. When you’re out of control, your authority is significantly diminished and your kids won’t listen to a word you say.
3 Reasons Why Yelling Won’t Make Your Kids Listen
1. Your child sees you lose control—and learns that by pushing the right buttons, he can make it happen. Once you start using yelling as a behavioral management tool, you teach your child everything he needs to know about pushing your buttons and gaining power over you.
2. Your child learns the lesson that using power and dominance is how things get done in the world. And that by overpowering someone, he can get his way.
3. It makes your child shut down both mentally and emotionally. As soon as the yelling starts, he quickly learns to stop listening. During an argument, kids will stop paying attention, reject what they’re hearing, or start yelling back. When people yell, usually they aren’t feeling anything but anger, agitation or frustration. And during a screaming match, certainly no one is doing much—if any—listening.
I think that one of the most important decisions parents can make is the decision to not yell—and then really work on it. Believe me, the screaming matches in your home will die a natural death once you stop engaging in them.
This guest post is by James Lehman is a behavioral therapist and the creator of The Total Transformation Program for parents. He has worked with difficult children and teens for three decades. James holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University.
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