Is Yelling the New Spanking? by Cara
I was forwarded an article by a friend this week, written by a New York Times columnist about whether American parents believe yelling at their children is considered what spanking used to be back in the 50s, 60, and to a certain degree, the 70s.
The article shouted practically a unanimous, “yes,” with evidence backed up by child psychology researchers and interviews with parents. Most of the evidence indicated that the same parents who would “never” spank their children, use yelling as a means to get their point across instead. In fact, one blogger admitted on her blog, “I am a screamer. I’m a Mom that screams, shouts and loses it in front of my kids and feel like I’m revealing a dark family secret.”
This may not be so far from the truth. My own parents never spanked me. However my father used to bellow so loudly at me at the smallest of infractions, it almost felt like a spanking. In fact, a spanking might have hurt less at times.
I personally have never spanked my son and have yelled at him only once (not including screaming for him to wait at a corner until I get there so as not to get run over). Every other time, I give myself a time out. I go to another room, lock the door, put earplugs in and listen to calming music for 5 minutes. I’ve been known to put my toddler in a playpen and walk around the house a few times. And on a couple rare instances, I handed my husband the baby, grabbed my car keys and my wallet and drove around the neighborhood for 30 minutes or so.
So what are these experts and researchers trying to tell us? And what really is a frustrated, ready to blow parent supposed to do? According to the New York Times article, both psychologists and psychiatrists generally say yelling should be avoided. At best, it is ineffective (the more you do it, the more the child tunes you out) and at worse, it can be damaging to a child’s sense of well-being and self-esteem. As one researcher put it, “If someone yelled at you at work, you’d find that pretty jarring.” Furthermore, if the tone of the yelling denotes anger, insult, or sarcasm, a child can perceive it as parental rejection.
The bottom line message through this article is: Don’t yell. Easier said than done. But there are strategies to prevent situations from escalating into the “Yell-o-sphere.” One strategy, as I’ve mentioned and used is to give yourself the time-out. Go into another room and scream into a pillow if need be! Be proactive, let young ones know that a transition will be coming soon and repeat it in intervals. Make sure the school age child has the backpack filled the night before. Tell your young ones that going into a store is where the parent makes the purchases, not the child. I personally go shopping while my son is in school. If I were not able to do that, I would forgo sleep and do grocery shopping at 10:00 pm. But that’s just me!
The experts suggest figuring out your own ways to prevent situations that make you most prone to yell. And take a deep breath before the words come out. There, unfortunately, will always be those moments where you just don’t know how to handle certain situations. You’ll blow, but an apology is usually recommended. And you can always do what I do if I know my husband is in a bad mood and may explode. I’ll say to my son, “Honey, just don’t make Daddy mad.” My son knows EXACTLY what that means! Then we BOTH stay away!