Friday, August 21, 2009

I Will Never Yell at My Kids Again*

I have vowed on more than one occasion to not yell at my children. It usually follows some outburst that was instigated by my children's annoying habit of doing the opposite of what I think they should be doing at different times during the day. Then dad feels bad and says he shouldn't have done it and in all seriousness makes the vow again.

And, of course, the children then sense the weakness and immediately chime in with something like, "Yeah dad, you shouldn't yell at us. It is scary."

"Now wait a minute, the REASON I was YELLING in the first place...." and then I remember the minute-old promise.

Michaela and I decided from the start we would not spank and so neither of us hit the kids. (We may each have one mulligan.) That leaves using our organizational skills to plan out an orderly schedule in which everything has its place and time and the kids are clear about all the rules and are encouraged to follow them by a complex program of positive reinforcement.


We are getting there and I think we will ultimately get there, but in the meantime can I shout at them? I mean, it feels soooo good sometimes -- especially when I shout something so logical and obvious I think I may have finally had a breakthrough with one of them. But I know it is wrong. I don't know why, but every fiber of my body says I shouldn't shout at my children.

So I looked it up and found two pretty good articles. The first is from The Guardian and is titled Loud but not proud. It basically says that researchers at Harvard Medical School found that shouting at kids DAMAGES THEIR BRAINS! WTF? I can handle a little emotional trauma that sneaks out when they see their shrink during their mid-life crisis, but brain damage? That's not fair. My favorite quote from the article:
There's an American saying that shouting at your children to obey is like using the horn to steer your car - and it produces the same results.

Of course since it is an article written about parenting it is written for mothers and goes on to talk about maternal isolation or something, but that's a whole nother post.

I found another article that gives concrete steps to avoid shouting at your kids at Wedding Magazine (really?).

I was encouraged by one of the last headings, "But sometimes shouting can be good for them!" until the last sentence.
Shouting also helps children to express their feelings instead of bottling them up. But never shout at young children.

How old is young? One I hope because I don't yell at Amalia.

Anyway, here is to not yelling at our kids anymore. Please, comment and let me know your yelling stories and if you have managed to get by with minimal yelling please tell me how. If you have a lot to say on the subject you can make a post on my blog. I just have to figure out how to do it.

*I mean it this time!