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To Yell, Or Not to Yell? That’s Not Even a Question!

Raising Our Voices to Our Children Can Lower Their Self-Esteem

Sometimes when our children don’t seem to behave or pay attention to what we  are telling them – especially when we as parents have had a long and frustrating day ourselves – it is all too easy to get into a  “yelling match” with them. Almost nothing could be worse! There are five very obvious reasons that, even when we can barely constrain ourselves, we need to refrain ourselves from raising our voices when dealing with our children.  (Like we tell them, sometimes maybe we just need to take a deep breath and count to ten.)

1- Yelling fosters fear in children, especially when they are younger. In a recent study published in the Journal of Child Development, it was reported that research revealed children who are raised in an environment where there is a lot of yelling going on tend to more develop psychological issues and other conditions including stress, behavioral problems, anxiety, and even depression, than children do who are raised in a more calm environment. And, besides all of these grave concerns, who wants their child(ren) to honestly fear them? This fear – and its undesirable consequences – can continue to grow on into adulthood.

2- Yelling at children teaches them that it is alright for them to yell at others. This is NOT okay… and, it will lead to many problems once he/she starts school. Even worse, it is a behavior that can continue – and get continuously louder – the older they become. The cycle can become repetitive: “like father, like son.”

3- Yelling usually corrects the problem only for a short period of time, as opposed to being a lifelong lesson learned. In fact, in a recent national study conducted among different age groups of children, it was learned that yelling is the least effective way to correct children. Pulling them aside and having a real heart-to-heart with them is much more effective… and, nurturing.

4 – Yelling does not usually even get the message across that you are trying to convey. The child’s brain is not able to process orders or requests that are made when yelling to them. They may do whatever it is that you want them to do – or, not to do – not because they understand what it is that you want to teach him/her, but rather because they want the yelling to stop. As is often the case, even when dealing with our peers, it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. Choose your words wisely… and, share them at a reasonable volume.

5- Yelling constantly destroys a child’s trust in us as a parent. In a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it was found that “a chronic pattern of psychological maltreatment destroys a child’s sense of self worth and personal safety.” If a child feels that he/she cannot feel safe and secure with his/her parents, they will soon look to other avenues to meet this need. Many times, this is met with no good end.

In essence, it is just as important for a child to feel loved and nurtured as it is to discipline a child. That, by no means, is to say that we compromise one for the other.  We just need to be acutely aware of our volume – and our tone – when we speak to our children… and – above all – to be sure to discipline them with love.