If you are a parent then you know that sometimes our emotions get the better of us. Somehow children can push the wrong buttons that we tend to lose our cool and start yelling at top of our voice.
You are definitely not alone in losing your cool. In fact showing your parental frustrations are absolutely normal. I have been there and done that more often than I realized. To be honest even now sometimes I do lose my cool but the change from a yelling monologue to a meaningful dialogue has borne fruit.
So let us see how yelling can have a very long-lasting effect on children that can shape their emotional future.
Why on earth do parents yell?
Before we venture into the effects of yelling and how to make the switch. We need to understand and acknowledge that we do yell.
Yelling or shouting basically happens when all of the pent up frustration culminates in being angry and overwhelmed with the situation. Frustrations can seep in from your work, or the traffic or just about any form or shape. In fact, we sometimes do not even realize we are frustrated until the outburst. A child always does what a child is supposed to do, that is being a kid. It is us who keep changing emotionally day to day because of the outside environment.
How do yelling and shouting interpreted by your kid?
Previously when I used to yell at Anika to get her to finish her chores, more often than not she used to ignore or delay further to add to my frustrations. Shouting may make them stop doing something and be quiet for a very short period. But it rarely solves the actual issue and they revert back to their ways soon.
In fact, my yelling told Anika to fear me rather than understand the consequences of their actions.
Children do and learn the same way monkeys learn. If you have ever observed a bunch of monkeys closely. The younger one will always be seen enacting what its parents re doing, be it picking lice from the hair or snatching food items. Similarly, children can interpret yelling and shout in a house as being normal. So as a parent you need to be aware of your emotions and act accordingly.
What are the effects of yelling at kids?
The question actually can be expanded to include adults as well. Imagine what goes through your mind and when someone yells at you. Do you actually hear what they are saying to concentrate on how to ignore and switch off or worse how to get back at them? Well, the same principals work with children. They will tend to switch off and instead of learning what you have to say (rather yell) they will completely give a deaf ear.
So each time you yell at them the deaf ear concept keeps rising and eventually they will simply not listen to anything you have to say even when you speak normally.
According to a research by NIH, children who are more aggressive physically and verbally have been under constant yelling and shouting at home. In fact, it makes them very insecure and scared. When that happens constantly they build an emotional shield within them in the form aggression. This way they are able to counteract their insecurity. On the other hand, if the home environment is relatively calm, children feel loved and accepted despite their behavior. This reassures them that there is someone who wants to understand them.
Here are some of the effects you may be seeing.
- Your children are relying on yelling to get themselves heard or even during normal speech. Not just with you but with other known people as well
- They are talking or most times yelling back at you.
- Your emotional relationship with them is pretty volatile with few days of happiness or anger.
- They are gradually pulling away from you and becoming closer to friends and getting influenced by them.
So what can you do as an alternative to yelling?
Here are the four things that I do to prevent me from yelling at my daughter. In fact, if you want to get your children to have strong emotional connections with you then practicing these points are really helpful.
1. Take a timeout
Be very aware of the situation and if you feel there is an outburst coming then step out of that scenario immediately. Deeply breathe and try to calm down. In fact, my taking timeouts more often during the initial phases taught Anika to learn about boundaries and healthy ways to manage very strong emotions. In fact, now when she is angry at something she tries to be quite by moving out of the room.
2. Ask yourself the question
When you have timed yourself out of the outburst scenario, a very quick and sure fire way to calm you down is to ask yourself, “Is it really worth it?” This is one question that does not require an answer but will channel your brain to get out of the situation fast and think for an answer. Of course, by the time you get the answer, it is pretty irrelevant as you would have calmed down. I use this question in almost all day to day scenarios, especially in traffic.
3. Talk about your emotions to kids
Yes, you should very much about what you are feeling with your kids. Instead of yelling at them, you also need an outlet somehow. So when you are calm, sit with them and talk why you felt frustrated and angry. More often than not kids will hardly understand your reasons but what they will learn is to share their emotions. Once that happens you have actually achieved a dialogue with them.
4. Do not threaten them but show them the consequence
In all this talk let me know not confuse you to start being a pushover. No that is not what is the goal of this talk. Kids sometimes need to be told about a consequence. But be very wary of threatening them. Take for example while eating, your kids ask to stop after having just 4 spoons of food. You want them to eat but most often we end up either coaxing them or worse threatening them with something if they do not finish their food. Instead of threatening which obviously does not work, try to show the consequence after speaking it. Just tell them if they do not eat now you will take away the food. After a few seconds if you feel they are not reciprocating them just take the plate away.
With this gesture, you have clearly told them about the consequences that can happen without he emotional upheaval. All the threatening and punishment actually humiliates children and makes them emotionally weak and insecure. These type of kids can grow up to be shy, meek, without self-expression.
5. Be calm when addressing bad behavior
Of course, as a parent, you will not tolerate bad behavior from kids. THis has to be known to them very clearly yet calmly without you yelling at them. Talk to them firmly in such a way that their own dignity is not hurt. Whenever you are explaining to them their behavior makes it a point to get down to their eye level and make proper eye contact. Doing this small correction actually, lets the kids realize that his/her father is not automatic but democratic enough to speak.
Preventing bad behavior
To prevent bad behavior you will need to predict when they are hungry, thirsty, or sleepy. When these three things are taken care off then children are very well behaved. They do not throw any tantrums or make a ruckus at home.
Also, try to establish routines. Kids love routine stuff again and again. That is why you will notice them watching the same cartoon again and again. So get in the habit of forming a timetable and sticking to it religiously. All this will keep their behavior in check.
After all, this, if you do yell?
No matter how strong willed you are, including me have slipped once in a while and yelled at my daughter. That is Okay. Should not be repeated but it is very human nature to slip once in a while. Do not go on a guilt trip if it happens. In fact, what I do in such situations is apologize to my daughter for my behavior.
Yes, I know some of you may not be able to digest the apology fact. But there is one important lesson that they will learn from you. Everyone makes mistakes but we should own up to them and apologize.
If your kids yell at you do not start the whirlpool of you yelling back at them. Talk to them calmly yet firmly and tell them that you are ready to listen only if they show respect.
So do not be punctured if you have shouted during this period of change. Accept it and move on do not stretch it like a chewing gum. We all can change today. The first step is really important. So go ahead and talk to your kids about the incorrectness of yelling and how it manifests our lives. They may or may not understand initially but they will come around.
Is anger management required?
As I have mentioned above we all make mistakes. But are you a person who makes these is taken more often. Are you yelling and losing your temper very often even and have trouble controlling your anger? Recognizing that frequent bouts of yelling and anger can be an issue within us. Accepting that fact is actually the first step in creating a respectful environment at home. I am listing down some of the signs that you need anger management.
- Getting angry for even the smallest of things
- Are you feeling stressed, high blood pressure, stomach pains, anxiety, and breathlessness
- Are you frequently engaging angrily with other people instead of having respectful dialogues
- Do you feel guilty and sad after a yelling session is over? Also, you observe this pattern repeating time and again?
Going to a therapist can really help you cope with these problems. But the first step is to accept that you have a problem. Going to a professional will give you more ideas in managing your anger.
I hope you realize now how negatively all the yelling and shouting manifests itself with the young ones. It is never too late, change today, start now to create a strong, healthy, and respectful relationship with your children. Let us know in the comments below, how have you been coping.