• Dr. Bill Walker

STOP Yelling At Your Kids - Do Something Better!

Do YOU like to be yelled at as an adult?

Guess what - neither do your children.

Here are 3 reasons to try something better than yelling (and hitting).


Most of us have been in that uncomfortable situation of witnessing a parent screaming at their child in a public place. Personally, it makes me cringe. It also makes me wonder how this parent treats their child at home, behind closed doors.

Yelling at your child is a bad habit on your part. Worse, it is only a temporary fix. You will end up yelling at them again and again for the same behavior. This repeated cycle eventually becomes a habit on your part.

The good news is this is a habit you can replace.

Reality Check

I doubt there is a parent among us who has not yelled at their child at some point during the parenting years, myself included. Yelling becomes a problem when you yell at your kids on a regular basis.

An occasional yell is one thing but using shouting as a form of discipline is unhelpful and unhealthy.

The reality is when you yell at your child on a regular basis you have developed a bad parenting habit.

Clarification: Yelling at your child in a potential emergency or dangerous situation (running into the street, etc.) is NOT what we are discussing here.


Let Me Give You 3 Reasons Not To Shout:

**Reason 1:

It Makes You Look Weak and Out of Control

The phrase, “Screaming like a maniac” come to mind here. Shouting involves more than your mouth. When you yell your entire face becomes a twisted contortion of anger. The church sign message is true: ‘Anger is just one letter away from danger.’

A contorted, screaming face conveys that the screamer has lost a degree of emotional control. A parent who has lost control is a dangerous parent. Parents who go on to physically abuse their children most always become emotionally out-of-control first.

Children have watched enough TV (unfortunately) to know that a screaming adult often becomes a physically aggressive adult. As a parent, you are much more likely to stay in control of the situation if you can find a more appropriate response to replace yelling.

The real problem here is you yell at your children because you don't know what else to do.

**Reason 2:

Yelling Can Actually Harm Your Kids

Research from the University of Pittsburg has found that children who are yelled at regularly by their parents have a litany of psychosocial problems. These problems include low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, stress, and acting-out behaviors.

Listen, parent! Isn’t this motivation enough to cause you to find better ways of disciplining your children?

Another way yelling harms your child is that children raised by yelling parents tend to grow up and do the same when they, themselves, become parents.

And so, the unhelpful cycle continues on to another generation (and another, and another).

Let's Break This Cycle!

**Reason 3:

Yelling Is Selfishness On Your Part

Selfishness? Yes. Yelling at your kids is a release and expression of your anger and current state of mind. Did you have a bad day at work? Burn Supper? Let's scream at the kids and release some of that frustration.

Dr. Alan Kazdin, professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University states,

“If the goal of the parent is catharsis, I want to get this out of my system and show you how mad I am, well, yelling is probably perfect. If the goal here is to change something in the child or develop a positive habit in the child, yelling is not the way to do that.”

Selfishness is using your child as a verbal punching bag to deal with your own anger and negative emotions. Remember – there are better ways to deal with these issues that don’t involve yelling at your kid.


A Better Way

Dr. Kazdin has developed a parenting program called The ABCs of Child Rearing. (Note: I have no association with Dr. Kazdin).

You can take his course online FREE of CHARGE. Here is the link.

You get to study with an acclaimed Yale University professor of child development for free - on how to be a more effective parent!

I greatly encourage you to watch these videos. I'm going to.


Christianly Speaking

Since many readers of this blog live their life from a Christian worldview, how does this material apply?

As parents, God says we are to set the example for our children on how to behave.

For example, in Ephesians 5:1-2, 4, the Bible says,

"Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.

He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us… Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.”

The Biblical qualifications for church leaders include:

"Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined." (Titus 1:8)

While these instructions are not specifically written to parents, they clearly apply. We are to always strive to maintain control of our temper and other negative emotions in all situations.

As well, God says we are not to treat our children in ways that cause them unhealthy anger.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:4

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (NKJV)

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (NASV)

The word here for ‘anger’, in the original Greek (in which this passage was written), means to enrage and exasperate to the point of unhealthy anger (i.e., wrath).

Yelling (and hitting) your child can cause them to develop a level of anger that results in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and antisocial behavior.

This verse teaches that instead of making our children extremely angry, a parent is to do something better:

“…but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (NKJV)

“…but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (NASV)

This verse makes clear that we are to parent our children in emotionally healthy ways.

Note: This verse is NOT saying we should never do anything that our children disagree with and get upset about. It is saying that we should not raise our kids in ways that cause them to develop deep-seated levels of anger and hostility. Yelling being abusive are what is being prohibited here.


The Bottom Line

You are human. You get upset at your children. When you get upset you must make an important choice.

You can yell, hit and take out your anger on your child, or you can calmly deal with the problem in a more controlled way.

Yelling at your child makes you look out of control as a parent and worse, puts you in a position to do emotional harm to your kids. It also teaches your children to yell at their own kids when they become parents.

This is NOT what you want.

And, please don’t say, “Well, my parents yelled at me and I turned out just fine.” Maybe it was all your parents knew to do. Personally, my parents did plenty of things raising me that I have made the choice not to repeat as a parent.

The point - If there is a more effective way to discipline your child, wouldn’t you prefer that?

I highly encourage parents to watch some of the parenting videos in Dr. Kazdin’s FREE online course.

It will cost you nothing but the small amount of time it takes for you to learn to be a better parent.

For the Family,

dr. bill walker