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Cited in Disney Babble – It’s OK to Yell at Your Kids Sometimes

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.11.06 PMI was pleased to be cited in this sensitive piece that was posted on Disney Babble. Author  takes on yelling, how it can be ok, and even effective, and how to handle things when you go too far. While yelling can be inevitable and even ok for most of us parents, abusing our power is never ok. Going long on our feelings, short on accusations, helps our kids understand the impact they have on others. Key to promoting empathy in our kids. Having empathy for our kids is also critical, and a great way to do this when yelling is to read your child’s body language as quickly as possible and take the volume down as soon as you can.

Most parents yell when we aren’t being heard, or are really angry or frightened by what a child has done or said. Part of what activates anger is a sense of being unheard, so as soon as we are heard, a need to yell should start to diminish. The image that was chosen for this piece is a great depiction of nonverbal communication that can help us monitor our need to yell. While the child in the image is looking her dad in the eye and appears to be listening (not yelling back, crying, or lashing out), her protective body language signals that he might be pushing farther than he needs to, with his close proximity, pointed finger, and obvious volume. Noticing attentive body language in our kids, like what is shown in the image, can give us the signal that’s its ok to lower our voice. They’re listening.

Psychologist Alicia Clark, a professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, says:

“Parents are human, we experience normal human emotion. And when you combine that emotion with the stresses of parenting, then sometimes parents yell. And if we don’t talk about how to be frustrated as parents, we aren’t prepared for frustration and then, we can be mean. And while yelling can be OK, being mean never is.”

Did you hear that? Yelling can be OK. As long as the heat of your anger isn’t boiling over into out-of-control fury, then it can actually be positive for both you and your children to express your emotions loudly. It helps your children develop empathy, because they can hear how much they’ve upset you. And it can also prepare them for high-pressure situations, such as having a teacher, coach, or boss who might blow up at them when they fail to perform to expectations, or do something wrong.

To read the article, click here.

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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