When I first saw the headlines, I was simultaneously defensive and depressed. “Study says yelling just as bad for kids as spanking” was the gist.
Well, shit, I thought.
I am a yeller. I lose my shit on my kids. Probably not on a daily basis, but certainly more than I would like, and probably on occasion over stuff that I should not lose my shit over. I’m such a parenting work in progress.
This article about the study definitely gives me motivation to try even harder to do better by my three beans.
Before you a) dismiss the study because you gotta do something to teach those damn kids! or b) get depressed because you yell at your kids, here are some important take-aways.
The study says:
1. It’s not ALL yelling. It’s yelling insults and curses.
2. It’s not ALL kids. It’s yelling at tweens and teens.
3. Yes, the effects of this type of “harsh verbal discipline” from zero-to-two-years out is about the same as physical discipline.
4. The article is less “Never yell at kids!” and more “Communicate better with your children.”
Obviously, the less you scream and yell at your kids, the better it is for everyone.
However, we’re not perfect, patient saints, we’re parents. And our kids aren’t perfect either. We yell when we’ve asked them to do the same thing 10 times in a row. They stomp when they don’t want to do it. Tempers flare despite our best intentions. Children test boundaries — that’s their job. The key is not to freak out on them when they do.
My suggestion for maintaining sanity and temper is my post here about Emotion Coaching. (Seriously, pick up this book. It is so helpful.)
And, you know, don’t scream abuse at your kids. I can easily believe that calling children names and swearing at them is just as damaging as hitting them. And those bruises don’t show.