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!


  1. Hmmm. I too have made a vow but it was simply not to spank, whop, smack, or beat my children -- seeing as how when i was a kid all the above was commonplace. Anyway, enough about my childhood. Now on to Alice, lovingly called Alice the Instigator (focusing on the 'gator'). She has this cute, innocent way of testing her all too patient, loving, and understanding father. Just yesterday, last night even, she proceeded to put the bathroom (tooth brushing/hand washing) stool at the top of the stairs, climb up and start dancing about a half inch from the edge. I stood at the bottom of those stairs and began to "YELL" at her to get off the stool. Of course this made her want to dance harder and faster, meaning more uncontrolled which made me yell louder. And herein lays the problem. Sara. With her infinite wisdom, she kindly says, "Maybe we shouldn't yell so much. I think that the neighbors heard you." Well... dangit. I've got my 3 year old about to tumble down a flight of stairs certain to damage that tender neck of hers -- which to me is top priority over disturbing 'the neighbors'. Now mind you, my vow was to not spank. So I yelled, and yelled more until she got off the stool safe and sound. But, the kid is sad, and mom is mad. My end-all question is why can't everyone be happy that 3 year Alice's neck is in one piece?!

    Darren Patillo

  2. I agree the damage your yelling may have caused according to Harvard researchers pales in comparison to the damage that falling down stairs can do. We, luckily, live a mile from our nearest neighbors so we do not need to worry about disturbing them!