I hate to hear parents screaming at their kids. Why? Because it doesn’t work! It creates a bad feeling between parent and child! It makes the “yeller” look very bad socially (if done in public). It encourages “push back” from the yelled-at child. Did I mention that it doesn’t work? Anger Management is an important parenting skill.
When I was growing up on Cleveland, Ohio, I had a mother could have used anger management. She yelled a lot. Out of love and concern, mind you, but it was still yelling. Sometimes it was over minor things, other times over safety issues and other times over character development. She did it so much that my brother and I became immune to it, especially as we got older.
Truthfully, much of the time it went in one ear and out the other.
Our response to a yelling request was usually something like “yea…mom…right away.” as we went on with our lives. AS I write this now, I feel a little guilty about it, because she was right about what she was yelling about, but horribly ineffective in changing some of our behavior. Like picking up after ourselves. Or, doing chores. Or, coming in for dinner on time while out playing. Or,- and this was a big one- us two brothers not fighting with each other.
When we became adolescents, she got desperate to get us to do things – now more serious things like having my brother not play tennis or baseball because he had osteoporosis in his arm. Or, insisting loudly that he practice the clarinet because lessons were being paid for. She pleaded, she harangued, she threatened, she yelled. nothing seem to work. My brother and I could easily persuade her to change her mind about things, to feel sorry for us, and….I must confess…manipulate her.
Except at some point she caught on and would utter those dreaded words in a threatening tone:
“Wait until your father gets home.”
Now that usually worked because my dad was….let us say charitably..a no-nonsense disciplinarian. Once he made up his mind about something, he never changed it, especially in terms of his parenting principals (like: “children should be seen and not heard;” “all teenagers are irresponsible,” and “get that mad look off your face, or I’ll give you something to be mad about.”
We were very well behaved in school because of my Dad’s edict that “if you get in trouble in school, you will get in twice that amount of trouble when you get home.”
But, at least he followed through on his “consequences” when we behaved badly, whereas mom often would not.Unfortunately, his rigid and unbending rules caused much frustration and stifled creativity. It also unfortunately taught us that there was no negotiating with an authority figure.. your only choice was to succumb/comply or suffer pain.
On a scale of 1-10, we would do what dad said at a 10. He only needed to say it once (most of the time).
Fair or not, at least we knew what the deal was and what the rules were. Break them at your own peril.
The “cost” of that approach to parenting was that there was little or no closeness between my father and his male children. We “listened” to him, but did not have a close emotional connection with him.
So, how do you get your kids to change their behavior without yelling or without losing emotional connection with them? In short, how can you be an effective parent?
First of all, don’t yell; it is useless most of the time, and in most circumstances. In fact, it makes things worse because as they get older kids start seeing you as emotionally unstable, and they mighy lose respect for you, which is not a good thing at all.
There are many other ways to deal with your children.Being mindful of alternatives will make you a more effective parent.Following are some tips that should be helpful:
*Be consistent with your house rules. Write the rules out and stick them on your refrigerator. Then if your kids act out, it is against the rules, not you personally. It puts a degree of separation between you and the bad behavior or your kids.
* You and their other parent must agree on the rules and standards and back each other up (within reason), even if you don’t agree with each other 100%.
*Tell your children how you feel when they do such and such. Rather than telling them how stupid, wrong, or immoral they are, tell them how disappointed you are in their behavior.
* Before yelling, take a time out and cool down. Come back later to deal with it. it only takes a few seconds of rage to cause a lot of damage in your relationship with your children.