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If you don't yell at your kids, how do they know you are serious?

Updated on August 15, 2017

It is not necessary to yell at your children. When you yell, you are obviously getting emotionally upset. Children are constantly trying to find the boundaries of what they can and can't do. As parents we must let them know the boundaries and that there are consequences for going over the boundaries.

Children are very good at pushing our buttons. They know what makes us lose our cool.

A better method than yelling is to set some rules, clearly communicate the rules and then let the child suffer the consequences of breaking the rules. For example if the child refuses to eat lunch, instead of yelling, tell the child, lunch is over in 5 minutes. You can eat now or you can wait until dinner. At the end of five minutes, remove the food. No big I warned you. Just remove the food. If you feel you must say something, say something like, "I bet you will be ready for dinner. It will be in about six hours."

Another example, the child will not pick up his toys. You can give him a choice. You can pick up your toys in five minutes or I will put them away for you. If I have to put them away, you will not get them back for two days. Then put them away in a room where he cannot get to them. You must stick to your word. Again, no I told you so. If anything, say something like, "It is really sad, you won't get to play with those toys for two whole days. I am sure you won't miss them." Do not be sarcastic. Be empathic.

If the child is not playing nice with a playmate again, tell him he either has to play nice or you are giving him a time out. The very next thing he does that is not nice, scoop him up and take him to his room. Again, let him understand that there are consequences to his action. While you might have to go through this exercise a few times for him to get it, he will soon and the next time you give him a choice, he will learn to take the choice that makes the most sense for him. He will soon learn it is better to eat his lunch than to go hungry. He must understand that the rules matter and breaking them has consequences. Your part is to stick to the rules. Do not be wishy-washy. The rules will not mean anything unless you enforce them. Remember, give him a choice just make sure you are okay with whatever he chooses.

© 2008 John Chancellor


Submit a Comment

  • plz begentle profile image

    plz begentle 9 years ago from Texas

    Great Question?

    Consider glaring at them, never breaking eye contact, even if you have to get nose to nose with them, repeat yourself twice in a stern voice, and nod either no for stop or yes for go.

    Let me know how things turn out



  • John Chancellor profile image

    John Chancellor 9 years ago from Tennessee

    I just finished reading Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman - and I highly recommend it - but it was amazing to learn the direct link between lack of emotional intelligence and the social problems which are running rampant in our society. I certainly do not think that an occasional yell does any harm (Lord knows I slipped a few times when our daughter was young) but we do need to be sensitive what we teach our children. They learn and model more than you would think.

  • terrymill profile image

    terrymill 9 years ago from Florida

    I agree with you John. I have four kids and going through the 2 year old stage with my youngest. While I do not support yelling I sometimes find myself doing it when I get stressed. I have to stop myself and remind myself that yelling isn't getting anywhere. I agree with boundaries and while it may be difficult to reason with a 2 year old, they do understand when you take their plate away and "no more food." It's hard raising children, no doubt, but I try to look at it to how I would feel if I was two and had a hard time expressing myself and always had my parents yelling at me. Kids need to be taught boundaries in a calm and cool manner and they can but it takes time.

  • John Chancellor profile image

    John Chancellor 9 years ago from Tennessee

    I certainly respect the right of a parent to raise their child as they see fit. However it is my belief that yelling at a child teaches them that yelling is a proper response. The fact that it happens does not mean that it is a proper or necessarily a good response. What happens in the family when the husband yells at the wife? Or in the work place when the boss yells at the worker? Does any good come from that? Yet it has been proven that the behaviors we learn in childhood get repeated throughout life.

    So I believe yelling as a way to get immediate attention to alert for some impending danger is perfectly okay, I do not think yelling just because a person has lost their cool is the best approach. It may make you feel better temporarily, but later in life, yelling can have very damaging results. So the less you do, the better I think it is.

  • Lela Davidson profile image

    Lela Davidson 9 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

    I yell. Sometimes it's because I'm at the end of my rope, but other times I do it on purpose. My thought is that the world is not perfect. Sometimes people act jerky and if I never yell at my child, I'm not doing him any favors. I know this isn't the perfect way to parent, but it's my way.

  • Blogger Mom profile image

    Blogger Mom 9 years ago from Northeast, US

    Thanks, John!

  • John Chancellor profile image

    John Chancellor 9 years ago from Tennessee

    If there is immediate danger, you do whatever it takes to keep the child from hurting themselves. If it takes yelling, then you yell. But if it is a more routine thing that comes up from time to time, I think a more reasoned approach is correct. Let's say a child is pulling on the table cloth and about to pull a set of dishes down on top of himself. You tell him in a firm tone of voice. You can convey by the tone of your voice that you are serious without yelling.

    Have you ever noticed in a movie that when an actor really wants to make a point, often they will lower their voice instead of raising their voice. It is the tone that counts, not the volume.

  • Blogger Mom profile image

    Blogger Mom 9 years ago from Northeast, US

    Thanks for answering this request. I'm not sure reasoning works with a 2 year old, though. And I'm pretty certain they don't understand the consequences of not eating their dinner. I gues I meant things that are of danger to them - if you don't yell, how do they know you "mean business"? Thanks!