There is no doubt about it: parenting is one of the hardest and most challenging jobs on the planet. Considering the recent results of a poll commissioned by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) show that rates of stress, anxiety and depression are at an all time high in Ontario, it’s fair to assume that the typically stressful job of parenting may be even more stressful for many parents today.
When kids misbehave, act out or refuse to listen, yelling may feel like the most instinctive thing to do, but yelling at kids has been shown to have detrimental short and long-term psychological effects on children. Short-term effects are that children feel bad, they eventually learn to tune us out and as they model our behaviour of yelling, they in turn yell too and can show increased aggression. According to this study shared by BetterHelp, the long-term psychological effects of yelling at a child include:
- Increased Anxiety
- Low Self-esteem
- A negative view of self
- Social problems
- Behavioral problems
- Bullying behavior
The article by BetterHelp elaborates on the long-term effects yelling has on children by writing:
The results of the study indicate that children are inclined to treat other people the same way that people treat them. Unless there has been an intervention, the habits and tendencies children develop as a result of their childhood relationships will follow them into adulthood. Adults that refuse to stop yelling at children can cause them to bully other children because they tend to have a distorted perspective of what healthy boundaries should look like. This study and others confirm that yelling is particularly harmful to children when it’s accompanied by threats and insults. Source: BetterHelp – What Are the Short and Long-Term Psychological Effects of Yelling at a Child?
BetterHelp’s article does a great job of expounding on the detrimental effects yelling has on kids and they offer strategies to help parents stop yelling.
Another great article that goes into the effects yelling has on kids is an article published by Fatherly titled: What Am I Doing to My Kid When I Yell?. Jonathan Stern of Fatherly explains the effects yelling has on kids and explains how the end result of yelling is just a future of shouting matches.
This short three minute video shared in the Fatherly article breaks things down perfectly:
How do I stop yelling at my kids?
Breaking the habit of yelling at your kids requires self-reflection and a commitment to stop. The most important step to stop yelling at your kids is to ask yourself: “why am I really yelling?” Is the reason really because you want your kids to listen or is the reason actually because of stress? When we’re stressed, we have less patience and yelling sometimes feels like the natural response. In a past blog post for Dad Central (What’s the best way to stop yelling at your kids?), John Hoffman wrote:
If you’re yelling too much I’d suggest you start by looking at your own stress levels. Sure, your child’s behaviour is part of it. But even when that’s true, your stress levels make a difference. You’ll be better able to respond to the behaviour and come with useful discipline strategies when you’re less stressed. In fact, you’ll do pretty much any aspect of parenting better if you’re less stressed.
In our webinar How to Stay Calm, Set Limits and Get Kids to Behave (see below), fatherhood expert Brian Russell explains how sometimes the reason we yell may be because our personal needs or expectations aren’t being met. Brian elaborates by saying: “A lot of times, unwritten rules like ‘I should always be respected’ or ‘nobody should ever turn away from me when they’re talking’ are what’s motivating how we respond to people.” By taking stock of our unwritten rules and how they trigger our yelling, we can work on responding better when those personal unwritten rules are challenged.
Tips to stop yelling at your kids:
- Commit yourself to stopping
- Take a personal inventory of why you yell
- Work on self-regulating your reaction to stress
- Identify your triggers – write them down!
- Plan better responses to your triggers – reflect on how you can address your triggers and ask for advice from someone you trust.
- Recognize you’re about to yell or are yelling and stop
- Drop what triggered your yelling and regain your composure – address the reason after you’re calm and you’re able to approach it from a place of calmness.
- Breathe until you can restore your patience
- If you do yell, apologize once you’re calm and do a debrief
How can I get my kids to listen without yelling?
That is a very loaded question! Which is we recently hosted a full one-hour free webinar titled How to Stay Calm, Set Limits and Get Kids to Behave. Featuring peaceful parenting expert Sarah Rosensweet and fatherhood expert Brian Russell, the free webinar helps parents:
- Learn strategies to stay calm when kids misbehave
- Learn how to set positive limits for children to follow
- Learn to communicate clearly with children
- Get kids to listen and see them become happier
If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, you should!
Additional Resources to Stop Yelling
Dr. Laura Markham has an exceptional recent advice post through Aha! Parenting that suggests 10 actionable tips to help you take control and stop yelling at your kids. Read Dr. Laura Markham’s advice post How to Stop Yelling at Kids.
Debbie Pincus MS, LMHC has another very helpful article through Empowering Parents titled How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids: Use These 10 Tips. As the title suggests, Debbie presents 10 helpful tips to help parents stop yelling at their kids.
Asa Don Brown Ph.D. has a top notch article for Psychology Today Canada misleadingly titled Please Yell at Me. The article explains and shares links to research on the harms of yelling, breaks down the reasons we yell, explains the benefits of not yelling, and offers solutions to avoid yelling.