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Is It OK to Yell at Children

Do You Yell? The Great Debate Over Whether It Hurts or Helps

Today, as I was getting ready to write my weekly column, I looked at the community to see readers' comments about How to Teach Kids to Learn From Their Mistakes, an article I'd written a while ago.

Your comments really reflected the full range of opinions on the subject of yelling. So instead of responding to each comment, I thought it would be more beneficial to continue the conversation here so everyone reading can weigh in, too.  

(So this does not become a vehicle to just disagree and judge others, i.e. yelling on paper, I removed the names and, for the most part, used only bits of the comments. It's not my intention to misrepresent anyone. If you want to read the comments in their entirety, go to the community.)

Also, because I believe my job is to inspire and expand the way people think about parenting topics, here are some questions to think about before you add a comment.  

  • How do you define yelling?
  • Can screaming be considered yelling?
  • Can shouting be considered yelling?
  • Is yelling always loud?
  • Can a firm voice be considered yelling?
  • Is it possible to yell without being angry?
  • Is yelling always motivated by irritation and frustration?
  • Can a parent yell and still be in control?
  • Do you believe children change their behavior, never to repeat it again, when a parent yells?

If you've read any of my articles you know how I feel about parenting. Here are three more things I believe, too. 

  1. I believe that moms and dads have the right to parent the way they see fit, as long as there's no emotional or physical abuse happening.
  2. Parenting advice and comments should be made with the intention of inspiring thought, not telling another parent what to do. I believe you know your child best.
  3. I believe that each child is different. What works for one child may or may not work for another child. Even in the same family.

"She Said, She Said"

Do you remember the movie He Said, She Said? Well, for the purposes of this article, I'm using, "She Said, She Said."

The following is a compilation of your comments from the community. After reading, please add your comments and wisdom in the comment section below. Your opinion is valuable; I think we can all learn a great deal from this.

She said: "I got yelled at, but when it happened I knew it was [be]cause I was bold. I got a slap when needed, and I had the best parents…"

She said: "Your children shouldn't fear you, they should fear the consequences."

She said: "Yes, there is physical and emotional abuse. A spank on the butt and raising of the voice is neither. I am sick of seeing the parents of kids my children's age who are afraid to parent!"

She said: "If you yell all the time they will tune you out. Then if they are doing something dangerous it will take them longer to respond because they will be used to it."

She said: "I know what is the best for my kid. She needs to be yelled at if she acts badly. She should know the [difference between] right and wrong. There is no gray area when she is kid."

She said: "If your boss or significant other yelled at you a lot, would you respect them more? I think not. If they took the time to calmly explain to you why they are upset, then yes you probably would respect them more. Why should if be any different with children?"

She said: "There are things much worse than yelling... My parents would yell only when necessary! Yes, my brother and I got our butt whipped when necessary. This didn't happen often, as we learned quickly. My parents didn't create a fear of them, more of a fear that we knew our boundaries and limitations, period. It was because of that discipline, that there were many things we didn't get in trouble for, because we knew better! I don't yell to yell, only if absolutely necessary for a dangerous situation, otherwise raising your voice gets the point across."

She said: "…I've been yelled at but was never taught the 'why' part of something being regarded as bad. I now take a different approach, I tell my baby the 'why' to her level of understanding."

She said: "I also agree with many of you. Fear does not = respect. Fear instills a lack of trust and a lack of faith. Do you really want your children not to trust in you?"

Do you agree or disagree? Or do you have a completely different point of view? Let us hear your thoughts!

Sharon Silver is a parenting educator and the founder of Proactive Parenting. She's also the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be.

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