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Why Are You YELLING?

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I have to admit, I get a little hot under the collar when my daughters ask me that question in their "you are really, really crazy" sarcastic tone.

mom yelling at tween

Dr. Janet Taylor: The irony of the moment is that I am a pretty calm person, and my "yelling" at them is typically a raised voice, but certainly not screaming. This is not how my own mother would correct, scold, or berate me; that is why I typically don't go off on my girls. The second ironic fact: my "yelling" is in response to an act that they did. It's amazing how expert kids are at turning things around.

An article in the New York Times today highlighted the conflict that arises around how to discipline our children and teens. Do we spank or scream, or neither? Spanking or screaming can indicate a loss of control, but there is also this concept of benign neglect. You have to do something to teach your kids about proper behavior -- however, you don't want your own response to be so negative that the teachable moment floats by.

Is screaming the new spanking?

The article stated that two-thirds of moms feel more guilty about screaming than any other behavior. Considering the fact that psychological aggression (yelling, screaming, or threatening) can be just as damaging as physical aggression to your children, should we feel more guilty about the decibels that we project? Maybe ...

Studies indicate that children who are subject to ongoing psychological aggression display higher rates of delinquency and psychological problems. More data indicates that the long-term effect is related to the age of the child and age of the parent.

Most parents expect to be able to have the parental right or freedom to inflict some sort of consequence for misbehavior or acting out in a disrespectful way. Isn't that parenting?

Well, actually it's not. Parenting is more than policing -- parenting is (on many levels) acting, as child psychologist Selma Fraiberg stated, as a partner. Whoa!!! You are probably thinking that the last thing most parents need to be is their child's friend. Big difference -- read on.

As parents, we are partners in the moral, physical, and psychological development of our children. That cannot happen when we berate, beat, or ignore them. The key is to focus on the behavior, and not overly criticize or blame, but work toward an understanding of the problem.

I know, easier said than done.

next: Should a 6-Year-Old Be Evicted?
54 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley October 23, 2009, 4:44 AM

I scream sometimes and then I feel totally guilty and always end up apologizing and explaining why I am so frustrated. I have a 7 year old, a 2 year old and a husband who sometimes acts like an 8 year old. I am working on the screaming thing.

Anonymous October 23, 2009, 9:13 AM

Kids can be pains in the butt sometimes so you can’t help but yell.

Amy McCready October 24, 2009, 5:35 PM

Dr. Taylor - loved your remarks about parents being partners in developing the child’s moral, physical, and psychological development.

You’re right - that doesn’t mean we become the child’s best friend - it means we focus on our JOB of TRAINING them to behave in appropriate ways and to empower them to be independent, responsible and self-sufficient. None of this happens when we’re yelling or spanking!

Ashley (post above) - keep working on the screaming thing! Awareness is the first step. I encourage you to check out free training resources on our site. Good luck to you! :)

Beki October 27, 2009, 1:37 PM

I think your article cut off right when the going was getting good. “Work toward an understanding of the problem,” yes, good, all right. Um, HOW? When the 15 y/o in question is making me want to pull my hair out (or worse, pull HIS hair out) I know that the screaming is bad. Also realize it’s incredibly counter-productive what with giving him a feeling of power that he can control my insanity level. So, I’m with you. But how??? If I beg will you finish the article? I’d be happy to beg.

Dawn December 22, 2009, 4:51 PM

Oh, I yell, and I don’t like it, but I get SO frustrated and it’s ONLY after NICELY asking & reminding them for about 20 plus times,so I guess I don’t feel too bad.

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