Why I Yell.

I used to be so calm.  People would remark on it.  They’d say, ‘Bec, you’re so calm!’  I would be able to deal with irritating housemates and impatient customers and at the end of the day, shrug it off, and sleep soundly.  I could even be the voice of reason, sometimes.  Or, a voice with a reason, just so as not to appear too full of myself.  In any case: I was calm.  And I didn’t yell.

Then I had children.

I didn’t set out to be one of those parents who yells. I set out to be a calm parent, who would listen carefully to her children’s concerns, and who would explain gently, the reasons why she needed her children to stop what they were doing, or to listen to her.

Obviously, I found that method lacked something in its execution.

Yelling can be effective.  I am bigger and so I can be louder, which also cuts through their noise — noise which is considerable, because there are four of them in a small house, and only one of me.  What’s more, they yell at me.  And I’m not about to be yelled at without having the opportunity to raise my voice in response, right?  Especially by someone who’s one third of my height.

I yell because it seems like something you get to do when you’re the grown up.  I remember people yelling at me, when I was a child, and I always figured that it was the way to behave when you really wanted people to listen, and take you seriously — when you wanted to appear to be powerful and in control.

I want to appear powerful and in control.  I want people to take me seriously.  I want my children to take me seriously.  And the only way to do that is surely to yell.  Because it is serious.  Tracking mud into the kitchen from the garden?  That’s serious.  Slamming the door?  Serious.  Giggling and splashing each other when they should have been washing their hands?  HEAR MY WRATH.

All of these things are of the utmost world-will-end-if-I-am-ignored  importance, and it drives me crazy (quite literally, in fact, because I feel like I am definitely not of sound mind when I am yelling about these things) that they don’t see that.  I mean, how old are they? Three?

Well, no, they’re six, four, and two (the baby’s almost one, but I don’t yell at him).  And it seems that when I yell, they don’t take me seriously at all. It raises my blood pressure and gives me a headache and disturbs the peace, but it doesn’t have the effect for which I was hoping.  They are so used to my raising my voice, that they turn the other cheek, and the other ear, and zone out.  I might get a token shrug or a remorseful expression, but when all is said/yelled and done, next time they come in from the garden, they track mud through the kitchen — AGAIN —  and all the other transgressions continue, and I am somehow more powerless than ever

I yell because repeating myself becomes boring and exhausting and I just want action.  I tried to make gentle suggestions.  This is how that turned out:

Me: Please put your jumper on.

[pause while child plays with a toy]

Me: Please put your jumper on.

[pause while child looks at me with a blank expression]

Me: Hey!  Please could you put your jumper on?

[pause while the child either shows me a sock, or runs away giggling]


[child is fully dressed, as if by magic]

Just writing that out made me tired.

So you see, I have such good reason to yell, yet still, it does me no good and I decided recently, it was time for a rethink.  This is not just because yelling wasn’t working —  it occurred to me that just because they yell, doesn’t mean I have to.  After all, I’m the parent.  And as I learnt back in the days when I was teaching high school students: someone in the room should be in control, and it should probably be me.


The original and still the most appropriate… [Source: WIkipedia]

Therefore, instead of yelling, my new approach is to wait (patiently or not) for the tantrums to reduce to a low rumble,  and then making quiet suggestions about what I want or why the behaviour isn’t appropriate.  What a simple solution!  How is that going? I hear you ask.

OK, so it’s not as if this works like magic, either.  They still yell, and they still choose to do things which have me shaking my head and wondering how we’re related.  But putting their behaviour into perspective, asking myself if it’s really worth raising my voice, if it’s really worth raising my blood pressure and my stress levels, I’m yelling less.  I may have legitimate reasons to yell.  I mean, they can be annoying!  But the excuse ‘but she did it first!’ sounds a little hollow when the comparison is between a toddler and a thirty-seven-year-old.

I yell because I care.  And I’m trying to stop, because I care.  Because I want them to listen, properly, and because I’ve realised that being grown up and being taken seriously relies on consistency, and calm.  I have also discovered that not yelling at my children has the pleasant side effect of reclaiming some tranquility in my life, at a time when that can be quite hard to find.


Who knows?  Perhaps by showing them how results can be achieved by not yelling, my children will turn out to be more confident, self-assured, polite and well-mannered young people?


Haha.  Or they’ll grow up to be rude and noisy, just to rebel.  Either way, my yelling about it isn’t going to change anything!  So I might as well just sit back, remain calm, and hope for the best.


10 thoughts on “Why I Yell.

  1. You yell because you have a million kids! I think I’d yell, too. With only one, it’s a lot easier–I’ve got more time for trial and error and giving him warnings and chances. Things that have worked well for me so far (bear in mind, he’s only 2) are a) warning him multiple times leading up to whatever I want him to do (i.e. “I need you to get dressed in 10 minutes,” then 5, then 2) and b) if he doesn’t do stuff after I’ve asked him several times, I say “either you do this, or I’ll do it for you.”

    I don’t know if this works on older kids. Oh, and I also offer consequences (that aren’t yelling) and then stick to them. This wasn’t a magic fix-it thing and took a long time to mostly work. But the up side is my kid does what he’s told about as much as a 2 year is going to do, and I really don’t have to yell.

    Again, I know I only have 1 child who is only 2 years old. You may have tried these same things a million times and they didn’t work with your kids (and my giving you parenting advice is pretty ludicrous).

    My mom was verbally abusive (you know, not normal yelling like you’re talking about), so not yelling is stupid important to me as a parent. Other things like not sitting on our asses watching too much TV are less important and I guarandamntee you do better at those than I do!

    (btw, this is n3m and feel free to add my blog if you want to)

    • Haha, well, I don’t really yell that much 🙂 But there are certainly times when I’ve caught myself thinking, ‘What am I doing?! Is it really that important, the thing I’m yelling about? Surely I should save the yelling for something major?’ I’m also a lot more aware of how fatigue and hunger affect my moods nowadays. So there are times when I know I just need to leave the room for a few minutes so that I can get a grip and relax, meaning I don’t take it out on them.

      I actually did a really good parenting course a couple of years ago — it was being run free through the school — called the Positive Parenting Programme. Some of it was very much a case of ‘well, duh’, but it was very good at talking about setting boundaries and ground rules. Turns out, children aren’t born with an innate understanding of ‘good behaviour’, and don’t actually realise what you want from them, until you tell them! Who knew?! And once I set up action-consequence or action-reward, it’s worked really well. The one-two-three thing works well with my 2 year old, who is fast becoming a cheeky boundary pusher, although I suspect (hope?!) that she will not be quite as full on as her sister!

      And yeah, obviously there is yelling, and then there is verbal abuse, and I’m really sorry that you had to go through that at any point, but especially as a child ❤

      I've seen you over at theun4givables' (or should that be theun4givable's?) blog and meant to add you! Or follow, whatever, you know what I mean. So I'll do that now.

      • I do the 1-2-3 thing with Max, too! I try to only use it if I’m in a hurry or if he’s doing something that’s potentially dangerous (like climbing on a chair in a dangerous way–not super-dangerous like running into the street). That way he knows I only do it when I’m already out of patience.

        What’s amazing to me is when I tell him to (for example) stop climbing on the back of the chair and he’ll get down. Only to put a single toe on the back of the chair and grin at me. Really now, you little stinker?

        I think the part where having only one kid comes in is that more often than not, I find this hilarious. I still have to give consequences and teach him where the limits are, but I’m less likely to be annoyed. I imagine that sort of thing can be exponentially more when you’ve got all those other kids also being crazy and probably teaching each other bad habits. 🙂

        (I figured you didn’t really yell THAT much. I don’t really sit in front of the TV with my kid ALL day, either. I just know not-yelling is a thing I’m rather good at, and being creative about activities is a thing I need to work on, big time.)

  2. Hmm, for some reason, it will not let me reply to your last comment. How odd.

    I often find their tantrums hilarious. To the point where I am laughing because it is so ridiculous and I really need to not be laughing because I want them to take me seriously when I say they absolutely cannot do whatever it is (usually play a game past bedtime, or something). The older two are BAD at encouraging the 2 year old to do naughty stuff. Or should I say they’re really good at it? And she acts the clown, totally hamming it up for them, so I am fighting a bit of a losing battle, there.

    You know, I found it harder to do creative activities until they got to about three or so. It’s not that you can’t do anything up till then, but they are limited physically and cognitively as to what they can do, and sometimes it’s hard to think of something engaging. And sometimes sitting down and watching TV together is kind of a nice thing to do, too. I often use it as a babysitter while I quickly get some washing up/food preparation done, and the other day I sat down and watched a few programmes with them, while I drank my tea, and they were so chuffed 😀

  3. Pingback: Turn Down The Volume - Find Your Paradigm: The Art of Living with Grace and Ease | Find Your Paradigm: The Art of Living with Grace and Ease

    • I think it is quite ok to feel annoyed and upset even when you don’t have children! I would like mine to be able to express their anger in other ways than yelling, though, which is why I have to try and do it less.

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