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Yelling At Your Kids Affects Their Brains – Here’s How:
Do you think that yelling at your kids is just bad as spanking? Research says yes, and here’s why!
Dr. Laura Markham, author of “Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting” and founder of Aha Parenting, says that by yelling, we aren’t actually breaking our kids’ brains, but we are changing them.
Instead of learning to calm down, they learn to lash out or shut down.
Megan Leahy, a Mom of three and parenting coach, explained to the Washington Post in an article about the effects of yelling that when a parent is shouting, “You are either growing aggression or growing shame. Those are not characteristics any parent wants in their kids.”
In a 2013, a University of Pittsburgh study suggested that “harsh verbal discipline” for adolescents doesn’t help and actually has similar damaging effects to physical discipline.
Yelling just reinforced bad behavior and increased depression.
Even homes that were otherwise loving did not avoid the harmful effects of even-occasional raised voices.
There are times when it is OK to yell, says Dr. Markham. If children are causing harm to each other or are in a dangerous situation, it may be necessary to shock them out of it. But the key is calming down right away, and explaining why you’ve yelled.
How to Stop the Yelling Cycle
Parenting sometimes feel like a losing game. There are just so many things you aren’t supposed to do. No parent wants to shout at their kid, but many factors from tiredness to stress to constant limit-testing can make even the most calm parent explode.
Firstly, start by getting a handle on regulating yourself. Then you can focus on communication and connection, by using a brain game, tell a story, using humor or simply trying to effectively discipline.
Here are a few tips a try:
- Remove yourself from the situation. Ask for help.
If you can, just walk away and give yourself some time to cool off. If you really in need of a break, have your partner or a trusted babysitter take over while you recenter.
- Adjust your expectations.
Learn what is developmentally appropriate to expect from your kid. For example, children under 4 haven’t fully developed the ability to resist forbidden behavior yet. Remember these stages when you start to feel yourself lose it.
- Tune in
If you know that you can’t deal until you have your coffee, set your alarm to make sure you get your first cup early. If meltdowns during errands throw you over the edge, then find a way to do them without the kids.
- Self-regulate emotions.
Kids will eventually learn good habits from your own self-regulation. Try squeezing a stress ball, jumping it out or chanting a mantra (she’s just a kid, he’s only 2, etc.). Then, if all else fails there’s always counting and breathing.
Last but not least, remember, the key to putting your best intentions into action when you’re in a difficult situation and want to yell is having a plan.