Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I hereby pledge to stop yelling!!!!!

I went to my youngest son's playgroup this morning, where the kids play while the parents get counseling on being better parents. The topic this week was "Discipline." This may be the most challenging topic for any parent; it certainly is in our house.

Our discipline systems are varied, inconsistent and often ineffective. We've used timeouts, strikes, red cards, sending them to their room, threats, some guilt, a very little bit of spanking, and my personal favorite, yelling. I yell all the time. Every day. I yell mildly. I yell from room to room. I yell to be heard. I yell to scare. I yell to intimidate. And though I've been subconsciously bothered by how much I yell, it wasn't until this morning that I felt really, really, really badly about my yelling.

The counselor said, "Try to avoid yelling. I know it's difficult, but it's very demeaning to a child. When you yell at them, you lower their sense of self-esteem and self-worth."

She went on talking, but I couldn't get past those words. My stomach churned and my heart hurt. I bet that since my oldest son was 2 years old, I've yelled at one or all of my children at least once a day. That's nearly 2,000 days of screaming at them. For 2,000 days in a row, I've been hurting their self-esteem. Think about that for a moment ...

So I'm done yelling. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions (I don't think I've ever tried one), but I am this year. This year, I resolve to stop yelling at my children. I will talk to them. I will punish them. I will discipline them. But I will try my damnedest to stop yelling at them.

They step off the bus in two hours, and my patience will be tested immediately. I'll let you know how it goes. And please, tell me how you deal with discipline. I'd love your feedback, your ideas, even your scolding if I deserve it. As always, thanks for reading. Join the discussion below ...


  1. Guy and I really enjoyed this article. This is a very open and honest perspective on the difficulties of raising a family and being a parent. We have seen you and Jen work very hard with your kids and we feel you are great parents :-) We will definatley take this advice and probably be leaning on you alot more in the next couple of years as we become parents as well. I think once our baby is born and things settle down we should all get together and have some drinks and maybe yell at each other instead :-) Good Luck with the resolution!

  2. Thanks, Michelle. You could try looking to Jen and I for advice, but that might not get you very far. The real truth is that every kid is totally different, and what works with one might not work with another. For instance, we've known Matthew for 5 years, and we still haven't figured out anything we can hold against that kid. But the drinks and yelling sound great! I'll eventually get tired of kicking the dog so I'll need someplace else to channel my child frustration.

  3. Scott, that is a very honest post. yelling and hitting were a large part of the discipline we experienced as children, it is natural that we would repeat it.Ben & I have done a lot of parenting counseling through the years in order to try to break this cycle. The one thing that we have been working with lately is empathy with the boys...staying calm and thinking of their feelings. saying' "You seem very upset, I'm sorry you feel that way, how can I help?" We also just learned a fabulous technique with the 2 year old to avoid tantrums. we say first this then that...when he really wants something, "first you finish your dinner, then you can have some apple juice" "first we change your diaper, then you can drink from the water fountain" etc all he hears is that he"s going to get what he wants. It is so easy to get caught up in the anger and really we are taking the anger we hold from our parents parenting out on our kids. It is a vicious cycle and it will continue in our children unless we consciously stop the cycle ourselves. The change must come from within, ask yourself these I sleeping enough, do I get enough time to myself, do I feel fulfilled with my life? Our children are still such babies. We look at our oldest as being so grown up, but wait till the youngest is 7 and we will see he"s still just a baby. It is so easy to yell at boys because they are so intense, but I feel it is our job to bring men to this planet that are gentle and kind, thoughtful and loving. I know this is looking at the huge picture, but war can only continue if we perpetuate it with our young. We work hard everyday to take a deep breath, stay calm and see it from their perspective. We are their teachers and I constantly have to remind myself that they don't come into this world having the skills they need for proper human interaction. It's up to us to teach them not to hit, push, yell and scream. If we haven't learned it ourselves then we can't teach it. I support you completely and will take the pledge with you to teach our boys without yelling. I know sometimes it is SO hard.

  4. Do NOT let a well meant touchy feely speech parenting parents on how to parent compromise your intestinal fortitude!

    Think back.

    When we were kids it was, unequivocally: "IN our OUT!" There was no soft discussion and evaluation of how we might feel offended or demoralized for letting the heat out of the house.

    "Bad manners?" "You did what?" GET TO YOUR ROOM!"

    My heart and feelings miraculously stayed intact. I was wrong-period.

    Kids push out limits daily, so you should remember it is *what you say that is equally, if not more important, than the delivery.

    People never want to being the V word into this discussion (violence) but contemporary pychobabble tells us yelling is a precurser to the ride to hell in a handbasket. Not

    Remember talks with folks from the Greatest Generation. When discipline was learned, it was learned once. They were not invited or empowered to be the creators of the punishments brought on by their own bad behavior. They weren't invited to wreak havoc on the family infrastructure based on their own preferences,

    And neither were we, for that matter.

    They *were invited to eat the next day after refusing their dinner and instead of being lawyered up at the local police department for wrongdoings, they were roughly scuffled out by *their parents.

    Our nation may view a a softer approach on discipline, but in other countries, heck other parts of our nation, you see a much more pragmatic approach to the age old issue of discipline.

    It is how you say what you mean:

    Graham, your not goint out until you clean your room!

    Graham, a soon as you get your room done, you can go out to play.

    Strategy prevails, and yelling isn't evil.