Some time ago I started a series called Greatest Parenting Struggles (GPS). You can find links to all the previous posts HERE. To start this series I asked my Facebook friends to tell me about their biggest struggles in parenting. Here is the response that I want to address today:
“Not yelling at them, when its the third or fourth time they have been asked to do a specific task.”
I can’t speak for all parents, but for me and my wife this is a serious struggle. We are much better about it than we used to be, but it still creeps up from time to time. So, how do we get away from this?
It doesn’t work. One thing that I have noticed is that when we yell often, it actually doesn’t get the results we desire. When we make a habit of raised voices, then there is no way for our kids to tell when a situation is of greater urgency. For this reason we actually don’t get the results we are looking for. There will be times when a raised voice my be necessary to get the attention of our children in order to make/keep them safe, but when used regularly it looses it’s effectiveness.
Consider the consequences. We often think of abuse as something physical. However, verbal/emotional abuse can be as damaging, if not more. The wounds left by physical abuse heal over time, but the emotional wounds may stay for a lifetime. When we consistently deal with our children with a raised voice the eventual result is a hit to their self esteem. While it would never be our goal, this sort of treatment can cause our children to doubt their self worth for years to come.
Fear is not the goal. I can distinctly remember the look in my sons eyes at times when I have taken it a little too far; when I have become too aggressive in how I spoke to him. This look was FEAR. This is not something I ever want my son to feel from me. We must remember that we are no only bigger, but also more powerful than they are. They know this and can feel fear when we come at them too aggressively.
Acknowledge that there is a problem. I think the biggest thing that keeps us from address this problem, or most others, is that we don’t want to admit to ourselves that there actually is a problem. Be conscious of how you talk to your kids and consider how often you are speaking to them with a raised voice or an aggressive tone. If this is happening multiple times a day, or even just daily, then it is a problem.
Discipline, don’t yell. In my house if I have to tell you a second time to do something then I consider it disobedience. Rather than yelling at your child multiple times in attempt to get them to comply move to disciple. I’m not gonna discuss what forms of discipline you should use as every child is different. Yelling rarely produces the desired effect and can be damaging to your child emotionally. So, skip it and go to what works.
A change of heart. I know I just told you to discipline your child, but I want you to consider something before you do that. The goal of discipline is behavior modification. At the end of the day, in my house, my children WILL do what they are told. If behavior modification is the only path to this goal then I will use it, at least for the short term. However, ultimately I want my children to comply because they WANT to. This requires them to experience a change of heart. For this we have to ask ourselves what is motivating their disobedience. This topic behavior modification versus heart change is something I am reading on right now (well once I get all my books out of boxes). So, stay tuned for more posts on that subject, but for now I say just be aware that heart change is much more effective, in the long term, than simple behavior modification.
Be sure to check out all the GPS posts HERE.Matt Norman
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