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Don’t yell! Psychologist urges parents to speak sternly to children

Published:Saturday | March 4, 2017 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston

There's a place in our heart, and I know that it is love

And this place could be much brighter than tomorrow 

And if you really try, you'll find there's no need 

To cry in this place you'll feel, there's no hurt or sorrow

Heal the World - Michael Jackson.

It is no secret that parenting does not come with a how-to manual, and there are times when parents will get things wrong. One of those often repeated wrong moves is the practice of yelling at your children.

Of course, some of them are more than a handful with their refusal to listen at first command, the temptation to yell to let them know you are not joking proves too much to resist for many parents.

Constant yelling does not come without its repercussions, and it is for that reason that Family and Religion reached out to counselling psychologist and founder of the Phoenix Counselling Centre, Dr Patrice Charles, who said parents do not need to yell at their children.

"However, the reality of the situation for parents is that showing restraint and not raising their voices to amazing decibels is probably one of the hardest things to do; especially on those days when work was extra hard. It could be due to an inability to get important things done or due to the frustration after being misunderstood by a spouse or partner," points out Charles, but whatever the case is, she said those moments when outside factors knowingly or unknowingly influence the emotions of a parent, it will, without a doubt, influence the manner in which they discipline their child.




Her advice to parents who have those difficult days to deal with and who end up with a child who is acting up is to be as calm as possible, as she said children actually respond better to a calm, stern voice.

For those who think yelling does not affect the child, Charles dispels that notion as she said it can affect them in many different ways.

"Some children may become withdrawn, while others may grow to resent the parent who habitually yells. Some children may respond to the yelling, however, once the episode is over, they will resort to their old ways until the next shouting match. Shouting can actually break the spirit of some children, causing low self-esteem. Parents may even notice that their children will resolve conflicts by yelling," shared Charles.

The alternative to dealing with children according to Charles, is to try the collaborative approach of talking to them and develop a discipline structure based on their age, likes and dislikes. She also said parents may find it useful to use different tones to demonstrate the seriousness of the moment.

With the greatest of coaxing or trying to follow these steps, Charles acknowledges that some children will still flout all of this and be stubborn.

It is for those reason, she said, that it is important for parents to know and understand the personalities of their children.

"Their personality will have a big influence on the type of discipline used. Speak to your children in a calm, but stern tone. Give warnings depending on the situations, and if the behaviour continues, then you may need to reconsider the effectiveness of the punishment and turn it up a bit ... the restrictions, not your voice," she said.

Charles added: "A word is easy to escape, and once out, there is no going back. Once that yell is out, you can't take it back."




Charles said parents can see it coming. They can feel it from the bottom of their stomachs. Take a deep breath and tell your child in a stern voice coupled with "the look" that they are beginning to cross over into dangerous territory (first warning). Remind them of whatever it is that they should or should not have done," are her sage words as she reminds parents that yelling can have negative effects on the situation such as causing everything to escalate, leaving both parties frustrated."

"When parents consistently yell, after a while, children will tune you out, and then you will feel the need to do more to get the desired response or behaviour ... which is usually beating your child. So before it gets to the boiling point, take a deep breath, even if a word or two slips out. Count to 10 and start again," she said.

Another aspect to consider, according to Charles, is how constant yelling can affect the parent-child relationship.

The best type of relationship and communication structure to develop with your child is the collaborative approach points out Charles.