What Science Says About Parents Who Yell
My house is very loud. As a parent of three kids, the volume in my home can crescendo up and down at a dizzying speed because my kids love to argue with each other. All of this amplified bickering inevitably leads to me losing my cool and yelling above the racket. I also yell because I get sick and tired of repeating the same directions half a dozen times to my kids, who flat out refuse to follow them. Mostly, I want them to hear me over their shouting matches so that I’m not repeating myself ad nauseam. But also? If I’m honest, I yell because I get frustrated and angry. But a recent study suggests that when I yell at my kids, I may as well be hitting them.
I have some questions about this.
What parent doesn’t yell?
I have a hard time believing parents who preach about how great they are at never raising their voices. I am sure they exist, but I am equally sure that they had gone to therapy or read a pile of parenting books to calm their frustrations and find specific tools to help them navigate the aggravations that are a part of raising kids. Any parent who tells me they just don’t ever get worked up is lying, I’m convinced.
Nevertheless, I am hell-bent on trying to find a path toward being that mythical unicorn mom who doesn’t ever yell. I don’t particularly appreciate how I feel when I scream across the house for everyone to sit down and be quiet. I hate the dripping guilt I feel when I realize that my outburst is truly no different than my kids’ outbursts — I’m not controlling my big emotions just like they aren’t. But I’m bigger and older, and I manage the fun stuff like PS4 controllers and snacks, so I get to be the one to dole out the punishments like time outs. It’s not a fair situation, but I sometimes feel like that little bit of power I wield is the only thing keeping my sanity intact while I battle to keep my kids from destroying our house.
Most of the time, I feel like I am barely hanging on as a mom. Yelling has become a tool I use, and I know that I am not alone — nearly every mother I know has either been a yeller, is currently a yeller, or is on some path to move beyond yelling. Yelling, it would seem, comes pretty damn naturally to parents. And it isn’t because we’re all terrible at parenting; it’s because we don’t have better tools to use when our kids drive us to the edge.