My mentor in parenting education is Dr. Linda Albert. And she was fond of saying that “yelling at your kids is like trying to drive your car with your horn!”

That is a cute way to call attention to the fact that yelling is not a good way to give kids direction.

Yelling is done out of frustration and anger. Your kid does something that you have told him or her not to do many times, you see it and yell, “what are you doing?!” The yell is sometimes ignored by the kid, which makes you yell even louder; or the child cowers in fear of you, which does little to foster a healthy relationship.

I do think that a yell is called for sometimes. Let’s say you see your kid getting too close to a flame, or they are about to cause something to fall on them. It is natural to yell to catch their attention and get them out of danger. But other than this sort of situation, yelling has little place in dadding.

A yell is something you do to satisfy an urge. When you yell you are letting the kid take charge of the situation. Remember, as the dad you set the emotional tone of every situation. Yelling indicates that you have lost control of yourself and you do not ever want to lose control.

So what else can you do than yell? Here are just a couple suggestions that I know work. Be serious and speak softly. Tell kids exactly what is troubling you about what they are doing and let them know you will not tolerate it.

Another tool is to move closer to them. Lean in if you are already close and whisper in their ear. If they still don’t respond simply repeat what you have said and let them know things will not go further without a change in what they are doing.

Finally do not embarrass your kids when they have done something wrong. Always try to correct them in a private manner and never call their behavior into question in front of others. Dads are teachers not drill sergeants. Dads are guides and not masters. Dads need to show respect for their children’s feelings.

These are all guidelines and suggestions. They are offered in an effort to help you be the best dad you can be. It is not always easy but it is always satisfying.

One thought on “Yelling

  1. Dan Conway

    Sister Mary Clare Ann, my 8th grade teacher, never raised her voice or visibly lost her temper. We were a large class and fond of misbehaving, but she was a superb disciplinarian. None of the stereotypes of nuns using rulers or intimidation fit Sister Mary Clare Ann. She was soft spoken and serious with a small but genuine smile. We never heard her yell. In fact, the more serious the situation, the softer her voice he became. But we listened to her. We obeyed her. Why? Because we respected her. She had earned our respect by showing in a thousand small ways that she respected us and cared about us as individual persons and as a class. As a Dad, I wish I were more like Sister Mary Clare Ann. I hope my children know how much I love and respect them, but I know I dion’t always show it. I have made lots of mistakes as a parent, but I’m not giving up. I owe that to my children–and to Sister Mary Clare Ann.


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