Wednesday, 18 September 2013


Do you yell?

I hope you do.  Because then that means I'm not alone in my failure.  I was thinking this morning about yelling at the kids after they haven't listened the first 4,938 times I asked them to do something.  I was thinking about yelling when they are being obstinate.  I was thinking about yelling because I am tired or stressed.

Then I was thinking about my own imperfections.  I was thinking about how it wouldn't improve my behaviour very much if someone yelled at me because of something lousy I did.  I was thinking about how the Holy Spirit doesn't yell, but can still convect me of a behaviour I know I need to change.  I was thinking about how yelling doesn't really accomplish anything.

Nothing.  Nothing at all.  Really, when you think about it, while what you are saying might be very important, or might need to get through to someone, using a very loud, yelling voice doesn't improve the transmission of that idea.  In fact, it most often would have the opposite effect; our natural defence to being berated is to shut down or put up a protective shell.  Essentially, we block out the abuse.

Benjamin has been giving us a run for our money for two years now.  The behaviour that most often gets us going is the pure stubborness.  He will stand there and refuse to comply with what needs to happen.  Sometimes I have the time to talk it through, cajole, cater to his insistence, but sometimes it just needs doing now.  And then after asking and asking and asking I lose my cool and I yell.

Do you yell?

I hope you don't.  I hope you have mastered the patience it takes to swallow that urge when it rises within.  I hope you mastered it so well that it is no longer a part of you, that simply have a peaceful nature.  Because that gives me hope that one day I, too, will overcome this weakness within.


Mom said...

I found that when you girls were growing up, yelling was not needed - when I got frustrated, I would just lower the volume and pitch of my voice - that would get your attention very quickly. HOWEVER, you girls were so easy to raise - none of you were stubborn or strong willed. I hope you don't berate yourself too much for yelling at Benjamin - I think that I might have resorted to that if I had had a child who tested my patience in such a way.

Heather said...

I yell! don't be too hard on yourself xo I wish I didn't. I have so few memories of my mom yelling at us, and I want the same for my kids. Every time I do, I always think, "Will they remember this?" I hope not :) At least we are aware and trying not to!

Kevin H. said...

Can't help but agree with you on this one. I grew up under the constant threat of verbal violence (aka "yelling") and although it would take longer than the space of a brief comment to examine the impact this has had on me as an adult, I think I can safely say that it was more detrimental than otherwise. However...

I think there's a distinction to be made between "yelling" and actual "abuse". Raising your voice to assert your authority in the moment, or to halt a behaviour that might lead to (imminent) harm, is an entirely acceptable parenting tactic (or so it seems to me). It's when this slips from something within our control to something altogether out of it that we need to worry. When the line is crossed from communicating what needs to be done to taking out stored-up emotional baggage on somebody littler than us, this begins nudging towards "abuse". It's okay to shout in the heat of the moment, but if "disciplining the child" involves berating them into submission, well, I think you get the idea.

You're a mother of four, so chances are you've had plenty of reasons to raise your voice on a regular basis. From the tone of this post though, and from what I know about you as a person, I'm not sure you need to worry so much about permanently scarring your children. :)

Terri-Ann said...

Kevin - I agree that raising my voice in warning is often necessary with kids who just aren't paying attention (like stepping into the street with oncoming traffic.) However, I meant more of the "Stop teasing your sister!" "Don't throw your food on the floor!" stuff. Stuff that doesn't need to be yelled, and doesn't gain anything with the increase of tone. I find most of my yelling is done out of pure frustration - I've said whatever it is so many times that I don't want to waste the energy and breath saying it anymore! However, all that happens is that I yell the same thing again and again, with no desired results. Remember that definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting different results? I'm not sure why we resort to yelling the same instruction louder, as though we think it might make any difference (with Benjamin, anyway, it never does).