Yelling is Lazy
. . . and I've been guilty of it more than I care to mention. As I mentioned in my last post, correction and discipline are necessary to bring balance to the way you parent, but if intimidation is the main way you curb your child's misbehavior, you're doing it wrong.
Often we as parents place an undue emphasis on correction at the expense of encouraging good behavior. If we're not careful our days can become one long "Don't do that!" coupled with a steady stream of threats and haphazard punishments. Often these threats are shouted angrily. Far from actually reaching the heart of our children for good, this sort of behavior actually frustrates and even angers them. If you do a lot of yelling in your home chances are your children do too.
If you find yourself making idle threats (like counting to 5 r-e-a-l-l-y-s-l-o-w-l-y, or saying things like, "This is your last chance!" more than one time for the same offense) or using the "shock and awe" parenting method (i.e. attempting to intimidate your child into submission by yelling or threatening hard punishments that you have little to no intention on following through with) you really should reexamine your methods.
Now, don't misunderstand me - children can do some pretty frustrating things like mark up your walls, or spill stuff, or ding your car with their bike etc. They can even do bad things like lie, or steal, or cause physical harm to others. But the fact is that when we as parents constantly resort to yelling in response to accidents or even deficiencies in our child's character it's more a sign that we have a problem and not the child.
When correction is necessary we must always be careful in how we carry it out. First, a moment needs to be taken to consider what we've seen or what has actually taken place before we make a snap judgement or issue a hasty punishment. Has the child committed any wrongdoing, or was what they did simply an accident? If a distinction is not made between these two things we'll respond to them as if they were one and the same.
If you make a habit of yelling at your child for every little inconvenience they create you're going to be doing A LOT of yelling. Scrapes and bruises, broken glass, never-ending messes involving toilet-paper, food, and Vasoline (maybe at the same time, lol), incessant questioning, mud-caked shoes in places where mud-caked shoes have no business being - it's all part of the territory.
Aside from being potentially frustrating, there's one other thing I'd like to point out about the things I just mentioned - they are not the result of a deficiency in character. Think about it. Accidents, whether they result in damaged property or not, do not indicate that your child has a character problem. They just indicate that they're a child (and for that matter, adults make costly mistakes too). With this in mind, when they spill their drink or break a dish, why do we sometimes yell at them like they've committed a crime?
One reason is that we allow ourselves to become weighed down with the burdens of life. Parenting is extremely hard work, as is earning a living, and keeping house, etc. Taken together it can quickly become overwhelming. At times you might feel as if all circumstances have conspired against you and you simply can't catch a break. We all have our good and bad days, but as parents we have to work to ensure that we don't allow the bad days to cause us to resort to intimidation to keep our children in line.
So much of the yelling that parents direct at their children is the result of a deficiency in the parent's character, not the child's. By no means do I want to suggest that I've arrived in this area, but I have long since recognized how yelling and the issuance of idle threats adversely affects my relationship with my children. At some point they just tune you out.
There are times when it's appropriate to be stern, but there's a fine line between raising your voice and yelling. Constant yelling is a lazy, selfish form of parenting that attempts to frighten children into submission. I say lazy because we often employ it to immediately stop our children in their tracks but we rarely follow up with the necessary instruction that helps them to understand the reason for our displeasure. Often we're simply too busy, or worse – too distracted.
Yelling is a poor parenting method. Ultimately it just discourages or angers our children while it heaps guilt upon our backs. Thankfully there's a better way. Over the next few weeks we'll explore how we as parents can guide, correct, and inspire our children by precept and example instead of intimidation.