A Yell and Scream Free Zone at Home

quiet-zoneNight has fallen, and a quiet and relaxing evening is approaching. At least, that’s what we had imagined. The reality is that sounds of, “I need to go to the bathroom,” and “my blanket fell down,” and “We forgot to brush my teeth,” are wafting down the stairs. Sigh. After the third, “Can I have a drink?” it becomes a double-sigh. Frustration sets in. “I deserve a quiet evening after a long day with the kids,” passes through our minds.

“QUIET!” We yell, “I said, GO TO SLEEP NOW!” If we could hear how ridiculous we sound, we would understand why the children are giggling at us beneath their covers.

Screaming or yelling means that we have lost control over the children, as well as control over ourselves. When the kids are screaming, and we retaliate by screaming louder, nobody has communicated effectively. Many children will laugh when screamed at, others will stand with their heads bowed in silence, and some will just stand there waiting for us to finish yelling.

Have you ever screamed at a child who then looked up and said they were sorry? It is very rare. Why? Why don’t the kids apologize when reprimanded? Because when a parent speaks in anger, regret and repentance are not the emotions being aroused. Rather, the screaming awakens anger, pain, and shame in a child.

Sometimes it seems that yelling can be effective. Like invisible ink, its effect is transient and temporary. Yelling and screaming teach nothing beyond anger. Yelling and screaming do not provide children with any lessons or tools for improvement.

The next time the children’s sounds have reached an uncomfortably high decibel, instead of yelling, try whispering. Picture the scene. When someone is conversing with someone who has laryngitis, it is difficult to speak more loudly than they are. On the other hand, when others are screaming, it is natural and instinctive to join in the shouting. In order to gain control, you must reverse the process and lower the volume by speaking softly.

If the child persists in screaming, continue whispering gently, “Sweetheart, I’d love to talk to you but I cannot understand you when you scream. Can I help you calm down so that you can say that in a different tone of voice?” It may take a few minutes of repetition until the child gets the message and stops yelling. If he wants to be heard, he will realize that there is really no choice. If a child is near hysteria, you may want to remove him from the room. “Honey, I’d really like to listen to what you are saying, so go to your room and when you have stopped screaming come back here so we can have a conversation.”

How did you feel when others screamed at you? Nobody in their right mind likes to be yelled at. At best, screaming is just annoying. At worst it is hurtful and embarrassing. Yelling is almost never effective at all.

Ssshhh… Whispering to kids is the key!

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  1. I will implement this TODAY! Great advice!

  2. obviously yelling is not effective, however it is difficult to stop sometimes. what’s the best other way to reach kids when it comes to them being a mess? losing their things? or how about when you do need them to hurry up for the bus..etc?

    • 1. A mess is caused by lack of established clean-up routines by the parent
      2. losing things is caused by a lack of an established place to put those things by the parent
      3. hurrying up to catch the bus is caused by a lack of preparation by the parent