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Why Yelling Is a Waste of Time and Energy

Do you think yelling and being firm are the same thing? Many parents do. They believe in order to be firm, you have to yell. I believe yelling is yelling and that firmness is authority in action and requires no yelling.

Ask yourself this: do you think there's a connection between the intensity of a parent's voice and how much learning a child is able to accomplish? I think there is. I believe less learning occurs when parents yell at their children.

There are others who agree with me. Nikki S remembers her childhood, "I was yelled at constantly as a kid and to this day I hate yelling, if someone yells at me it makes me want to hide."


Why Kids Misbehave

Why do parents think yelling changes behavior?

I think it all boils down to the expectations parents have for how children should behave. Most parents don't realize that their anger and yelling may be motivated by a deep-seated belief that kids should be well behaved at all times. That concept was held by previous generations, most likely upheld by your parents during your childhood, and is unconsciously being replayed in your mind now that you're a parent. Because most of us were yelled at as children we've come to assume that yelling is what we're supposed to do when correcting our child's behavior.

Let me ask you this: if you believe that yelling works, then why do you need to yell more than once in order to gain the cooperation you seek?

Research has shown us that yelling at a child produces fear and resentment, not cooperation. Research also shows us that children shouldn't be forced to behave perfectly all the time; they need to misbehave or disobey so they can learn.

Young children act out. It's not bad, it's not wrong, it's not something they should be made to feel guilty for, and it's rarely something that requires automatic punishments. Children do need limits, boundaries, rules, and teaching. They also need understanding, empathy, and love.

A Babble article on whether children should be "seen and not heard" includes this scenario: "If my kid starts wailing and throwing boxes of cereal in Aisle 7, I can't just apologize and turn the volume off the way I can if my cell phone goes off . . . I can do my best to help her behave well . . . if she's losing it, she's just like any other person with a problem. What she needs is help . . . " And let me add: she doesn't need yelling.

What a Parent's Yelling Really Teaches

We need to change the way we look at our children and their behavior. Kids don't wake up each morning with a diabolical plan to create bad behavior, even if it feels that way. They're not nuisances or irritants and shouldn't be treated that way. We need to see our children as whole human beings who need help understanding themselves and their behavior, not badly behaved tyrants who need to be controlled and punished.

Parents are supposed to hold their children accountable for their actions and choices. But yelling only teaches a child one thing: how to tune out your yelling. When children emotionally protect themselves by tuning out parental yelling, parents react and feel forced to reach for even more yelling and controlling.

Read some of the parenting concepts and skills I've shared so you're more able to replace your angry reactions with empathetic teaching. This will allow your child to truly hear you and listen to you — even when he's emotional.

Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding and the Skills e-class. Visit to download two free chapters from her book and learn about other Proactive Parenting programs.

Image Source: Corbis Images
GinnyWalker GinnyWalker 3 years
Articles like this are nice and I understand their point. We all want to be good mothers and right now I don't know anyone who's a mother who hasn't at some point spent agonizing hours worrying about the emotional health of her childen and felt like she wasn't good enough. Personally, I don't think any mother needs more advice on raising children, but what we all need is a way to clear the frustration, overwhelm, and anxiety that accompanies the task of trying to raise our children the best way that we can. I think we can all handle the never ending to-do list that goes with raising children, the laundry, the housework, groceries, homework, carpool, etc. but what takes it out of all of us is the emotional overwhelm of trying to keep it all together when kids are whining, fighting, and we're trying to keep a marriage together, pay all the bills, and for alot of us work full time too! For me, what I hate the most is when I feel emotionally out of control and I lose it or I'm harder on my kids than the moment really called for, I hate it when I feel like I handled a situation poorly. Days when this would happen I would sit up all night tortured with guilt and worry that my kids went to bed feeling unloved and hurt. So, what I've found is every mother has the kids that they do for a reason and as mother's I truly believe we are gifted to know better than anyone else how we can best help the kids we have. What truly makes an amazing difference is when you can physically release the emotional stress and connect to your own inner wisdom to guide you to know how best to handle each kid and the unique situation. After years of feeling so emotionally out of control, I learned some simple techniques that really are easy and super quick to do and they help to clear the emotional charge so you can feel calm, clear, and present to know how best to handle stressful situations.(And... a child that's getting in to trouble is pretty stressful) Anyway, I was so excited to finally have some tools to help me clear the emotional stress that I wanted to share it with the other mothers that might be interested in managing their emotions more effectively. So anyway, I created some audio files that people could download for free and learn these techniques so you could start feeling calmer immediately. So if anything I'm saying here resonates, please feel free to go download the stuff, I have lots of information available if you want to learn more. Here's the link. Isn't being a mom an adventure. Who would have thought it would be as hard as it is sometimes. It's an amazing experience but it can sure feel overwhelming too.
AileenEddy AileenEddy 3 years
I believe that every crime deserves an appropriate punishment. Different children also require different tactics. However, to say that a child should not be expected to behave all the time is ridiculous! A child should always be expected to behave (even though they won't). Setting the proper expectations are key. If you don't expect your child to behave, they won't.
DeirdreVanAmberg DeirdreVanAmberg 3 years
My children can be expected to behave. When they misbehave they usually are blatantly disobeying the clear expectations that my husband and I have laid out for them. If they don't learn now to have self-control and act appropriately, I wouldn't want to live near them in society when they are adults. "Kids don't wake up each morning with a diabolical plan to create bad behavior, even if it feels that way."......Um, yes they do. If children are left to their own reasoning and devices they will end up being self-centered tyrants. They like all humans are inherently bad at heart. "They're not nuisances or irritants and shouldn't be treated that way." I agree. Children are blessings and should be seen as such, however they desperately need parental training and guidance. It is love for my children and not anger or annoyance that motivates me to discipline my children. I also agree that yelling is not the way to respond to children's misbehavior. Swift consequences for their bad choices is what is in order. This discipline should be done by a parent who is feeling level headed and speaking in normal tones like a judge explaining a ruling.
Amanda1381170429 Amanda1381170429 3 years
Ok, I get it. However, I can't stand reading articles like this that give an example, in the case the asle 7 story, and never explain what the suggested next step is. So my kid flips out in a store, I shouldn't yell and explain to them sweetly that it is wrong? Well, I wouldn't be reading up on this if that tactic had worked now would I? I can't yell, spank, or get mad at my kids without emotionally messing them up. So what do I do? Think of how emotionally messed up they will be if I never reacted to anything other than flakey comments.
Harv15024107 Harv15024107 3 years
This article is typical of the liberal mindset that infects most of our educational and other institutions. My impression is that many of these authors have very well behaved and well mannered children, a genetically inherited behavior. The best the rest of us can do is move towards less yelling and screaming, in an effort to moderate the amount of noise and clutter. We should take small steps in the direction of better communication. One problem is that yelling merely increases the volume level of all involved, and the whole yelling match gets ratcheted up to higher levels of volume. But we can take small steps to work with the kids to find ways to moderate the volume. Best of all is to find out what the kid wants, and to delay obtaining what he or she wants if he or she misbehaves. But I would not criticize the parent who has to scream. I would merely advise various ways the volume can be reduced. Having a good talk session after a blow up can be helpful. One problem is that today we do not believe in corporal punishment. Spanking is an alternative to screaming. In some respects I prefer spanking. Screaming is a physical punishment to the ears, and often results in very bad emotional upset for both child and parent. Spanking is a direct form of physical punishment that can be administered without as much upset in a rational and direct manner. But I can see the liberal establishment coming down on me now. But what has this establishment accomplished? They have created some of the laziest and least productive students and children in the world. Note the performance of our children versus those in other parts of the world. Note the superior performance of immigrants in our school systems. Anyway, best of luck to the screamers. I hope you can move slowly towards a more easy going emotional roller coaster ride which we call family life!
JenniferHawkins83485 JenniferHawkins83485 3 years
That concept was held by previous generations....and after watching our society deteriorate at such an alarming rate, maybe we could actually learn from them instead of picking them apart. I don't yell at my kids all the time or even daily or weekly, but I have yelled at them. Sometimes yelling is called for, there is after all a time for everything. There is a difference in yelling and demeaning and name calling.
Lindasilver1379361631 Lindasilver1379361631 3 years
Tell me what to do instead I don't want to go to another artical ! I'm busy yelling at my kids
NaomiVissersKranz NaomiVissersKranz 3 years
I was fortunate not to have parents who yelled. I agree with everything in the article. I try not to yell at my kids although I occasionally slip. Kids just check out of the conversation and the only thing screaming and lecturing does is allow the parents to express their frustration.
EvangelynaThurman EvangelynaThurman 4 years
I definitely agree! I grew up with a mom who would flip out and yell over anything and everything. Before I even hit the double digits I would just tune her out and wait until she was done. It made boot camp a breeze when I enlisted because I was already used to getting screamed at for nothing but it also made me lose respect for her and made me not want to be anything like her. I have never yelled at anyone (outside of the mandatory military yelling) nor do I get upset over anything. No use making a fuss over spilled milk or an accidentally broken plate because that's what happens when kids are around, even when they're being careful. Things break, spill, get messy, shenanigans ensue and that's just normal kid behavior. In my opinion, yelling gets you absolutely nowhere and sends the wrong message.
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