I'm a yeller. I yell when I'm feeling rushed, frustrated, upset at other things, tired and overwhelmed. I yell not when my kids are being "bad" but more when I don't have the inner resources to cope with them being the 5, 3, 1 year olds that they are. In these moments, I don't just yell, I scream like a psychotic woman. It's seriously a scene from Mommy Dearest. While it effectively stops any annoying, obnoxious behavior the kids were engaging in, it probably does so because it totally freaks them out and/or devastates them into tears of fear and shock. I then experience "shouters remorse" for 2 days straight.
Though I am a yeller/screamer, I hate myself when I do it. But, in the grand scheme of parenting, yelling seems like a basic behavior management technique in the tool bag of most parents. Yelling, to a certain extent, is part of childhood, normalized and (as long as it doesn't go too far) socially accepted. Spanking, on the other hand, has always been more of a hot topic.
Well NOW it is suggested that yelling may be just as harmful as spanking... and perhaps, as Amy McCready suggests, yelling is the "new spanking." This very topic is discussed in a very compelling and sobering article in the New York Times by Hilary Stout entitled "Shouting Is The New Spanking." The article considers the potential harmful consequences of yelling at our children and points out that negative words given in harsh, overly critical and punitive tones added up over time are not only ineffective in managing problematic behavior but may also hurt a child's esteem, sense of self, and interpersonal interactions.
What really hit home to me was the analogy that if someone yells at us... a spouse, a friend, a co-worker, a stranger, it is a very emotionally laden experience and can often pierce us, anger us, confuse us, or make us feel threatened, unsafe, or not cared about, depending on the circustances and the words used. While we as adults know how unpleasant being yelled at is for us, this article points out how common place it is to see yelling, nitpicking, sarcasm, and snapping occuring daily with our children (mine are certainly no exception). Perhaps it is because only children can push your sanity to the edge...
A Professor on the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection discusses how it isn't the yelling per se, but how the yelling is interpreted by that child. If it connotes anger, insult or sarcasm, it can be pereceived as rejection and have problematic effects. He doesn't beat around the bush, stating "Don't yell" and sites yelling as a risk factor for families.
Um, Yikes. I don't just yell "per se." I go for the gusto. I can get just plain nasty.
What do YOU think? I'm interested in your opinions! To read this article, look over in my sidebar and find the Juice Box Jungle Widget. Wait until the graphic says "NY Times Shouting Vs. Spanking" (the widget flashes through several different images) and click to read the NY Times article - a short and provocative read. Take their poll too regarding spanking. Leave me your thoughts if you're so inclined. Especially if they relieve my insane guilt for ruining the lives of my children.