It’s Not Okay to Yell at Your Kids

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” ~Peggy O'Mara

Yep, I said it: It’s not okay to yell at your kids.

I know, I know. Who am I to judge you or your parenting style or your circumstances?!

The good news? I’m not.

I’m really, truly not.

I yell — more often than I’d like — and I’m not condemning other parents who yell.

But what I’m realizing this year is that sometimes I need a little less camaraderie, a little less, “Ugh, I just lost it with my kids too,” and a little more of someone standing up and saying, “Yes, it happens to the best of us. Yes, there’s forgiveness and grace. But no, it’s not okay.”

Because you know what? It’s really not.

Are there times when yelling is okay? Sure, and I’m not here to quibble over when it’s okay and when it’s not. If my kid is about to walk into the road and I can’t reach them, you can bet I’m gonna yell, and my goal is going to be to scare them into freezing right where they are. And frankly, we’re a loud family, and there are plenty of times that the yelling in our house has nothing to do with anger or frustration.

But sometimes? Sometimes these little people I’ve been entrusted with just push me over the edge, and the only way I feel like I can get anybody to listen is to yell. Or sometimes I’m simply living inside my head, wanting to finish a stream of thought without interruption, and that final interruption is enough to make me want to scream and shout.

Sometimes I’m just tired. Sometimes I can’t think of any other way to get their attention. Sometimes they are really just not listening or obeying.

And so I yell.

But I still don’t think it’s okay. And I really don’t want to get to the point where I justify it.

The quote above was floating around Facebook a while back: “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” I don’t want my kids’ inner voice to be that of me yelling or ranting or belittling them.

Does this mean I don’t believe that kids should be disciplined or made to obey? No, absolutely not. I’m just not sure yelling is even all that effective in the grand scheme of things (I’ve watched my kids tune me out and I’ve watched them put up walls between us when I yell), and I think there are better ways to get their attention and make my point.

I also know how yelling makes me feel, and it’s not good. I never walk away after yelling at my kids and want to give myself a pat on the back for stellar parenting. Instead, I walk away with my blood boiling, my heart pounding…and a pit in my stomach.

Earlier this year I came across The Orange Rhino, a blogger who committed to not yelling for a year straight and documented her progress along the way. She’s raw, funny and unapologetic about her commitment not to yell at her kids, and it was the wake-up call I needed to take a look at yelling in my own life and say, “This is not okay.” I haven’t made it a week without yelling, let alone a year, and sometimes it feels like an impossible challenge, but I want it to hurt me every time I give in and yell, and I don’t want to stop trying and accept yelling as inevitable.

I think my kids deserve better than that, and I think I do too.

Whether you’re a yeller, a former yeller or someone who has never yelled at your kids, I’d love to hear from you. What other strategies do you use when yelling feels like the only way to get your kids attention? How do you push back against your tendency to yell?

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