How and Why You Should Stop Yelling At Your Kids

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“Stop teasing your sister!” bellowed Mary.


It was a typical Monday morning and Mary was preparing breakfast for her kids when the youngest came marching into the kitchen crying. She told her mom she wanted to wear her tutu instead of her jeans and refused to eat her pancakes until she was given permission. To make things worse, her older brother started teasing her about it. Mary’s phone beeped a reminder that she had a meeting to catch in an hour. Mary finally reached the end of her rope and ended up yelling at the kids to stop crying and teasing at the top of her lungs.

Yelling at your kids can be an automatic response when you get frustrated. But what you don’t realize is that while it temporary stops the behavior that is making you angry, it’s actually not that effective. When parents get the results they want from yelling, it’s because they have scared their kids and they just want their mom or dad to stop yelling. It’s not because they have actually made a decision to improve their behavior. In fact  yelling at kids can lower their self-esteem and increase their anxiety, stress, and behavioral problems.

And yet, we all do it. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that close to 90 percent of the nearly one thousand parents surveyed copped to getting shouty with their children in the previous year. What’s more, for families with kids older than seven, almost 100 percent of parents admitted to yelling.

Here’s why else you need to gain control over the yelling that takes place in your household:

The parent-child relationship can become unstable.

Kids can become physically and verbally aggressive if you use shouting to communicate with them. When you can’t talk with your kids in a healthy manner, there is a possibility that your relationship with them will become volatile. They may follow your lead and yell at you and talk back to you. Plus, your children might rely on yelling to get their messages across to each other and they may even pull away from you and become more influenced by their peers.

Yelling Can Ruin Self-Esteem.

Harsh verbal discipline also increases depression due to the child’s belief that they are “useless,” “worthless,” or “inferior,” as their parents’ harsh criticism might suggest. In turn, a child can become overly self-critical, experience low self-esteem, and exhibit a pattern of poor choices regarding peers and behavior. Yelling is also bad for parents’ self-esteem since it is usually followed up by feelings of guilt and shame.

Yelling makes behavior problems worse.

Yelling creates a perpetuating cycle – the more parents yell, the worse kids behave, which in turn leads to more yelling. . Additionally, kids become desensitized to the loud volume of the yelling. The first time you yell at a child, it’s likely to grab his or her attention. But, the more you yell, the less effective if it is. Simply put, they get used to it. And lastly, kids start to wonder how you will be able to control their behavior if you can’t control your own.  As a result, they’re less likely to want to please you and they’re less likely to value your opinion.

How to avoid yelling at your kids:

  • Give warnings and reminders without threats: “When you finish your homework, then you can go outside with your friends.”
  • If your kid doesn’t listen the first time you make a request, walk over to him, get his attention, make eye contact and speak firmly but gently.
  • Stepping away from a situation before it gets out of control can sometimes be the most productive thing to do — this will give you a chance to regroup and regain perspective before you lose your cool.
  • You’ll be less likely to resort to yelling if you’ve established clear household rules. Keep a written list of these rules prominently displayed for everyone to see.
  • Explain the negative consequences for breaking the rules to your child ahead of time.
  • Follow through with consequences to show that you mean what you say.

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