Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Art of Yelling

"Why does dad yell all the time?" Toothless asked Wife this question a couple of weeks ago. When the question was relayed to me, I thought: "well because you guys never behave.  I think the better question is why can't you little shits behave and I wouldn't have to yell?"

This wasn't my audible response, though. After this initial thought, I felt horrible.  Is this what I want my kids to remember about me?  Why can't I control myself and not yell?  What am I yelling about and to what end?  Its been 8 years and at this point I can confidently say that my kids don't respond to yelling.  Sure they remember that I yell, but they don't recall the content or context.  

Right before Memorial Day weekend, my wife forwarded a post by Hands Free Mamathe Important Thing About Yelling that I viewed as an invite to stop yelling at my kids, or at least drastically reduce it. Reading the post it was nice to see that mom's have this same issue.

The post also put things into perspective for me: are the events that lead to me yelling all that bad?  Sure, almost burning down the house is probably a yellable offense, but yelling at the kids for accidentally spilling milk or over pouring their cereal aren't.

So over Memorial Day weekend, I challenged myself: no yelling.  After the previous weekend, I thought that this would be an insurmountable task.  However, I didn't yell once.  Four days without yelling at my kids.  In looking back at that weekend the kids were extremely well behaved. There were times I wanted to yell, but I resisted and moved on. The weekend was one of the best we've had in quite sometime.  Was my attitude and yelling a cause of all the previous bad weekends?

I went on the following week without yelling, but my hitting streak ended at 7 days when Tiny decided to unbuckle his seat belt while we were driving.  But I didn't lose it.

It was calm yelling. And I moved on.  I continue to yell at the kids, but it certainly has decreased and is just as ineffectual as ever.  The one thing I have noticed is that my relationship with the kids has changed.  They do something stupid and just look at me to see the reaction.  When I don't yell they're more responsive to my follow up reaction.  Toothless spills his juice on the kitchen floor, I yell: he doesn't even try to clean it up.  If I calmly ask him to clean it up, he's on his hands and knees cleaning.

I would like thank my wife for relaying Toothless's comments to me and sending me the above link.  I also want to thank Hands Free Mama for her open and honest post.  I'm sure I'll write more on this topic as I move on.


  1. Seems this yelling thing is going around, lol. I wrote a post about it last week, but my revelation came from my son writing, "Dad's favorite part about being a dad is he can yell at me". It's been a week w/o yelling and I can already feel the difference. I have a lot of my own issues that I'm trying to work out and yelling IS one of them. I'm a recovering yeller. Thanks for sharing.

  2. That's cool. I'm also always trying to yell less. For me, it's not just because it's not effective (at least not when used too often), and not just because it's a terrible way to be remembered by my kids, but also because my dad was yelling a lot when I grew up, and of course at 69 he's already a veteran of 2 heart attacks and a quadruple bypass surgery. Staying calm is a win-win-win.

  3. Brian, I think it's related to the end of the school year. But the week without yelling was great. I regressed last weekend, unfortunately.

    Oren, it's the least effective bit of parenting I do - more so than drinking beer, watching football and ignoring my kids. They actually become worse the more I yell. It's a sport for the kids. I hope the connection between yelling and heart attacks is spurious.

  4. Good for you for making some positive changes. It sounds like the changes have been a positive for you and the children.
    I also find my children look up at me when they do something wrong. They are awaiting my reaction. Keeping even-keeled is a challenge here as well.


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