Monday, November 02, 2009

Yelling. is. not. okay.

There is quite a trend in parenting these days. It's the thought that yelling is a perfectly acceptable form of correction and/or redirection ... perhaps even necessary.

I'm a reformed yeller. I have even shared my ridiculously simplified steps on how I stopped yelling at my kids. It's the "Step #1" which seems to throw a lot of people: you have to believe that yelling is not okay.

Sadly, that's just not the case.

A few nights ago Twitchy Mac came home from her musical rehearsal in tears. They are starting tech rehearsals and the stress level is about to climb. One of the adults started "laying down the law." Lots of empty threats were tossed around, including "If you make even the slightest whisper, we'll kick you out of the show."

99.9% of the kids blew this off. They KNEW these were idle threats. They're used to it. Happens all the time at school. My neurologically challenged child, however, takes things literally - especially with someone new in her life. By the end of the night, she believed she might get booted out of the show if she blinked too loudly, and that the director really was going to turn into a monster.

A quick email, and a short heart-to-heart between director and Twitchy Mac the following day helped ease her mind. Yet, when she came home she said, "It was nice of him to talk to me, but something he said really bothered me. He said he HAS to be mean or the kids won't listen."

And her face ... oh my cow, her face said it all. It was the look of an 11-year-old thinking, "How is it I'm smarter than a grown-up about something?"

Move forward one MORE day, and she came skipping in. The director had said anyone who was disruptive backstage would be asked to sit out in the audience for awhile. And it happened ... AND HE DID IT. She was so proud of him. Now, THAT got the attention of the kids. He actually DID something. She said it made a massive impact on everyone. I was also there last night and heard him speaking to the kids in a very firm, but controlled way, and the threats had been completely eliminated. And there was a stage full of 20+ grade schoolers who were attentive and happy.

My husband subbed at a grade school a few weeks ago and witnessed an assistant principal literally in a grade school kids' face yelling. No one batted an eye. Teachers ... students ... just kept moving through the hall. It was obvious that this was the norm.

We have had an incident with a teacher who yells. Other parents said things like, "Well, that's just her 'way.'" I vehemently disagreed. Guess that's just "my way."

So, the main reason adults yell at children? I believe it is because they truly think it is the only thing which works. I'm here to tell you that is the biggest bunch of hooey on the planet.

Not only is it not the only effective means of correction and redirection, but it is also a bad thing. It is bad. It brings harm.

When you are yelling, you are not in control of yourself.

When you are yelling, you are teaching your children to yell ... and some of us have been certified instructors!

When you yell at your children to control them, but do not allow them to yell to control one another, you are a hypocrite.

When you are yelling, you are doing it to make yourself feel better.

When you are yelling, you tend to say things you do not mean or you cannot enforce.

When you are yelling, your entire intention is to hurt and/or frighten.

And I have every right to say all of that because that is EXACTLY why I yelled. It is exactly why I still crave the yelling. I want to yell. I want to yell almost every day. My husband wants to yell. It would feel SO GOOD! Come on, you have read some of the stuff my kids like to do to me. Oh MY, would it feel so good.

Doesn't mean my husband and I have not hit our limit and made the mistake of yelling in the middle of a battle with a child. Yet, it rarely happens now. When it DOES happen, our children have permission to immediately correct us and ask us to change our voice (just like they are expected to do). Once we have calmed down, we apologize to the person we offended in front of everyone. We then (just like our kids are required to do) must do something to show kindness and love to that person.

Yeah ... if you're having a hard time stopping, try THAT once or twice. Painfully humbling and humiliating. Caused me and the hubster to always work REALLY HARD on this.

Yes, yelling may very well get you the immediate result you are looking for ... for awhile. Your children will learn to shut down just to endure the tirades.

When I have had a raging child, I remain the complete opposite. I almost speak in a whisper. One of us is going to drag the other to our side. Sure enough, when my kids finally realize I will not join them, they finally join me. When I instill consequences, I say it in a firm voice most times ... a soft voice other times ... depends on the situation.

If a child smarts off to my face, I take a deep breath and say something like, "Well, that's certainly one way to address your mother. Too bad you did not choose one which involves no correction. Oh well."

I'm not some magical person. I did not quit yelling overnight. I still want to yell almost every single day. Yet, it is easier now, because I have practiced NOT yelling. It feels weird now (even though the temptation is JUST as strong).

I quit because it goes against everything I am called to be, and everything my children can be. I encourage you to stop with the yelling. I promise you, it will be one of the hardest things you have ever done in your life. Guaranteed.

Do it anyway.

(photo by Betty Miller)


Summer said...

Thank you! I wrote a list of things to do when you feel like yelling at my other site and got nothing but flack. It just jars me that so many parents think you have to yell. (Says someone that yell too much still, but less than before, and working on less and less each day)

Brenda said...

I agree one hundre per cent. I grew up in a yelling family and it is a constant battle to control myself! I once knew a principal who said "Yelling is a sign of lack of control." In other words, the teacher doesn't know how to keep control of her classroom so tries to use intimidation. Wrong. Wrong.Wrong. I may piggy back on this tomorrow and give a link to you!

Jena said...

yup, yup and yup... as a reformed "yeller" I totally agree... and I know how stinkin' hard it is... and I still mess up, and it is horrible because it really really hurts my kids when I do it...AND it totally negates what I am trying to do in the first place... 'cause then I have to apologize, and apologies take some of the "umph" out of correction and redirection, ya know?
It makes me realize that kids who don't react at all to yelling are SERIOUSLY desensitized to how wrong it is... and that is REALLY wrong...

Anna said...

I stumbles up on your blog quite surprisngly but it wasn´t long before I was absolutely hooked on reading it! You are an amazing writer and I love reading your posts. They are thoughtful and challenging and your opinions and incredibly well expressed. I agree with lots of your opinions and it´s such a reliefe to find a Christian blog with I agree with (there are not many around). So thumbs up for your marvellous blog!

Jeri said...

That is very sad about the principal (or ass't. principal) yelling in that child's face. My son had a "yeller" in first grade. She was my down the hall colleague, new to the school, young and no classroom management skills, and I'd given her very clear lists of things that would set this child off and things that would help. By November, she upped the ante and was witnessed grabbing him by the coat collar and screaming in his face while shaking him! Gee, that's helpful for a child who has PTSD...she lasted the school year somehow but then headed to North Carolina (sorry North Carolina). My son was moved to a kinder, gentler more normal teacher. Those who don't have self-control think they can control others with fear...ummm,no.

Mamita J said...

Wow...thank you. Again reminded of the damage it does. Time to examine myself again.


Away2me (Deanna) said...

Ouch, timely post. I need to stop. I need to stop yelling now. Thanks for the reminder.

MadHatter said...

My name is MadHatter and I am a yeller. Maybe I should give myself some credit and say reforming yeller. It is a constant struggle. Thank you for holding me accontable (even though you have no clue who I am--see you at the banquet one day though!)

Carly said...

So funny, this happened today in my 3rd grade class....
I said to one of my students, "You need to clean up your desk, I am not your mom, so I'm not cleaning up after you." They said "I know you are not my mom, if you were you would be yelling at me."

R-Liz said...

My husband and I decided we would not spank our children, but then we (or at least I) found ourselves more prone to yelling as a result. So we've had to nip that base instinct in the bud as well.

Reading "Unconditional Parenting" (have you read that?) was a big help for me in seeing my kids as human beings,worthy of dignity and respect.

Thanks for the post.

Meredith said...

Wow - you are awesome.

Parkerchica said...

I totally lost it and yelled at my girls on Halloween night. They were not following directions. I, on the other hand, was exhausted and not in control of my emotions (obviously). Darn. Apologies were given. Candy was eaten (by them, I mean...okay, and by me).

I have found that returning to the classroom this year has done wonders for my parenting skills. I have always regarded yelling as unprofessional. In essence, you are announcing that you're not in control of your class. I realized last week that I was teaching and correcting 80 first graders at a time (preparing for a program...and the deadbeat coach who was supposed to be helping me was MIA) without yelling or even acting unpleasant. So there really is no reason why I couldn't handle my pwn three kids on Halloween. I just chose not to.


Hannah_Rae said...

Help! I am a recovering yeller who is falling back into yelling because my hubby person thinks that it not only is okay, but necessary to evoke respect. Actually, he doesn't even need to yell, his firm voice is already booming. Is it difficult for fathers to accept this respectful parenting style more than moms? Would you (and your hubby) be willing to share about his journey? Does he have trouble not being angry with behaviors? Especially when they are harming you?



Christine said...


You have to keep that conversation going between you and the hubba-licious. Talk about it in depth.

For instance, I still can't find yelling or bullying anywhere in Galatians 5:22-23 ... or Proverbs 15:1.

I've tried - TRUST ME!

Diana said...

I can't say I'm a reformed yeller, but I'm definatley a reforming yeller. Thanks for the reminder to keep going in the quest.

Here's another tip for others on the same quest. When I blow it and yell at the kids, I'd say pretty close to 90% of the time my blood sugar is too high. (I'm diabetic.) In fact, this is one of my biggest warning signs that I've neglected taking care of myself and I need to take a break and step away and do something for me ASAP. Blood sugar isn't the only thing that can cause this phenomenon. There can be other medical related factors that come into play as well. So, if you find yourself earnestly trying and still blowing it more than you'd like, check to see if there is something you can do to better take care of yourself and something you can better control before you deal with your kids or your spouse.

BT said...

Recovering yeller thanking you for this post. It's come at a good time.

Now I'm going to go back and read your former post about when you "gave up" yelling.

Jenn said...

Thank you for the very timely kick in the pants.

Cammie said...


I have to say, I am not a yeller...because my mother was! She would start and all I would hear is *insert adult character voice from Charlie Brown here*. Seriously, I would just tune her out...don't know what she said for the first 18 years of my life!

My husband, however, is a yeller. We have this 'no yelling' discussion often. Mostly because I hate to see the terror on my kids faces when he yells. I don't want my kids to be afraid of their father. UGH!

My sister is also a yeller and she says its ok because she doesnt spank. WHAT??

Anyway, thanks for this great post!

familygregg said...

great post. thanks.

Thany said...

So, 10 minutes ago, I was on the computer, finishing some things and my son was out and out disobedient to me doing something I said not to do. I am NOT feeling well right now and I am still simmering at him. And I hollered real good. Even though part of the not feeling well includes almost no voice and a severe problem with my asthma today.

I sent him downstairs and told him I didn't want to say something I didn't mean, looked back at my computer screen. go to close my blog window and see your post on the BlogHer ad. I clicked through and was pleased to find myself here since i enjoy you so much. And now I'm feeling all convicted and stuff.

The yelling didn't do anything and it probably harmed me physically more than helped the situation. I was not raised in a yelling household and neither was my husband. But we had some major stress factors happen in our family (I know you've been there!) and we let the frustration and exhaustion get the best of us and now we have created these terrible habits. I know God can help us break them. We just have to decide to do it.

I'm sending The Hubs today's blog. This has to be a team effort. But thank you. Thank you so much.

mimi said...

Great post...I found myself becoming a yeller and creating mini yellers! I'm trying to really be aware of my tone and my words...trying to treat my children as I want to be treated ;)

The Bilslands said...

Great post (and blog)!

I am really, really trying to stop yelling after hearing my twin boys yell at each other and their little brother. I can hear myself in their voices and it makes me so sad to hear how mean I sound! It is difficult, but I am determined! =)


Away2me (Deanna) said...

Since your post I have not yelled at my son. It's been the hardest and most rewarding 72 hours in my parenting life! I had to blog about it:

Summer said...

Aweee, I think I just fell in love with you. =) You, know being that this is my first time here.

Anyway....I've been totally working on the no yelling thing, and my my's totally not easy.

But, you are so right in that we don't want to pass on the yelling.

I don't think the Duggars yell, do they?

And I always think...WWDD. What would Duggars Do?

Nikki said...

Can you keep reminding us of this, like, EVERY SINGLE WEEK???!!!! (I'm not yelling at you, I promise.) Seriously. So important, so practical, so REAL. Thank you.

Shannon said...

Hi, my name is Shannon and I am a yeller. I think I'm going to print out this post and put it on my frig.

Becky said...

Wow, I needed to read this. I am very much a yeller. As a teacher, we are taught that when your students are noisy, to keep getting quieter and they have to quiet down so that they can hear you. That is my biggest struggle in the classroom, and at home. Thanks for the post!

Sister Big said...

I think you have really good points here. I think I need to think about how I define "yelling." I am defining it as "raising my voice while still making sense." Maybe we are defining it differently?

JamericanSpice said...

I need to work harder on not yelling.

This was very interesting post. Thank you for saying it. said...

thanks for giving me some motivation to curb my addiction-to yelling! I want to stop, I know it is not effective, I know it is wrong...yet I still do it...why? well, I have one of those "spirited" children, with intensity levels sky high, selective hearing, crazy hyperactivity and most of the time I just can't get through to her! So Thank you for giving me the strength to change my disciplinary ways!

Jamie said...

I know I have a yelling problem...because I can hear it in my kids. Thanks for the reminder to stop...I've tried and tried again but I just need to keep trying and pray for wisdom and guidance. Appreciate the post.

Anonymous said...

I don't even have children and I love this post. Mainly because I yell during fights at my husband and feel terrible for it afterwards. And yet, it was nice to hear that someone else has that "urge" and that it truly makes me feel better to let it out that way.

Moxie Momma said...

Just discovered you over on BlogHer where I'm the new kid in town trying to figure the whole thing out. Jumped over to your blog because I have a kid with TS and OCD. It's always nice to connect with others who get how crazy this life can be and how we can feel both frustrated and blessed at the same time.

Loved this post. As a person who hates yelling also, but has done her share, I can relate. Just yesterday my TS son (12yo) was having a meltdown and yelling and all over homework. I felt my voice getting all yelly and everything so I said, "I need you to stop talking to me now because I am getting very upset and I don't want to yell. I need a time-out from you." Then I walked away. Of course, he kept yelling, but I managed to keep my voice in check.

Great post! Looking forward to reading more.


Amanda {My Life Badly Written} said...

I love the ofthe child asking you to change your voice. It can snap you back to the reason you are mad. I am a yeller and I hate it. I feel guilt after every time and I have said some horrible things. My 4 year old now yells at me which is awful - I don't want him doing that when he is 15!!

Fantastic post and I am going to take it all on board and become reformed!

chasmyn said...

Okay, so I've been reading your blog after seeing a link from the Janssens blog...I've been essentially reading backwards from page one because I just cannot stop reading, and I find you so inspiring and fascinating. You're definitely about to be a part of my rss feeds...

This post is the one that compelled me to comment and declare my love for you. This is something I struggle with - I try so hard not to yell, and I sometimes do. My husband is a yeller who doesn't think he yells - this has been a struggle the entire 12 years we've been together. 13?

However, he is open-minded, and I am sending this post to him to read. And bookmarking it for me to read over and over. Maybe I ought to do what someone else here said and print it out to post on my fridge. Because YES.