I use to be a yeller. Yes, even pediatricians yell at their kids. But I have reformed and yell much less now then in the beginning of my parenting career. Over time, I saw what my yelling really was doing. It created fear. It intimidated my children, even my kids who were not the target of my yelling. It created tension between me and my wife and my kids. I always felt bad after yelling. And, most important, it didn’t work to convince my kids to my point of view. In fact, it often backfired and made my children back into the trenches of verbal warfare and work hard to hold their positions. As I contemplated the issue of yelling in context of my overall parenting philosophy, I realized that there were good reasons why yelling wasn’t working.
In my philosophy of parenting, children often behave in ways that work toward two goals – getting attention from their parents and controlling their parent’s response. These two factors become more of a motivation for children in moments of conflict with parents. Children know we have more power in decision making especially regarding purchases, transportation and finances. But that doesn’t mean they cannot exert some power by controlling our response by pushing us in arguments to the point of yelling. How powerful is it for children to “push our buttons” enough to see a parent have a temper tantrum? And since they are the focus of the attention (even though it is negative attention) they are receiving a second victory especially over their siblings who are not the focus of attention. So, when I was in a yelling fit with my child, I was actually falling into a subtle trap set for me by my child and feeding some subconscious need. So I needed to change my tactics.
I set goals for myself to see how many days, weeks and months I can go without yelling. It takes a lot of practice. It is natural for our kids to want to argue with us. And they do not want to end an argument. As a result, if we become committed to the ending of arguments, then we may avoid getting to the point of yelling. We can end arguments sooner if we stick with our initial answer and refuse to engage any further in discussion no matter what else is said!!
The other time parents yell is when children won’t do things we ask them to do. The same motivational factors for children to push us to yelling exist in this situation.
So it is possible to create a life free of yelling. You may come up with your own tricks. But now that you know that yelling doesn’t work, you may want to try something new. Hopefully, my tips will motivate you to try a new approach before you let your kids see more of your temper tantrums.