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discipline Some days, it seems as if yelling is just another tool in the endless arsenal of parenting techniques for discipline, up there with spanking, bribery and sanctions.

We’ve all used these tools at one point or another and we’ve all had varying levels of success with them.

Unfortunately, while negative feedback (punishment) is easy to deliver, it’s not actually very effective in the long run.

Negative feedback can hurt you and your child physically and mentally – and it can affect your relationship with your child, especially when, as is frequently the case, one parent has a much lighter approach to discipline than the other.

Explore More >> Discipline Tips for Age 10 and Up

Get a Handle on Your Yelling

In order to reduce your yelling and progress to more positive behaviours to achieve good discipline, you first need to know what makes you yell. To do this, try to keep a log, or at least recall the times when you are yelling.

Think about why you are doing it.

  • because the kids won’t acknowledge you?
  • because you think they can’t hear you?
  • to get the kids to hurry up?
  • to get the kids off video games?
  • because it makes you feel like they’ve “been punished”?

Yelling for Acknowledgement

Two of the most common reasons for yelling are to get your kids attention and “because you don’t think that your kids can hear you.”

Ultimately, you’re yelling for “acknowledgement” but if your kids have isms, there’s a pretty good chance that they won’t know that – or they won’t know how to “acknowledge”.

It’s pretty common to see a parent yelling their kid’s name and see only a minimal reaction, perhaps merely a glance, from the child.

In these cases, it’s clear that the child has heard their name being called but the adults automatically assume that they are being ignored.

Shouting out a name is not an instruction any more than a tug on mother’s skirt in a crowded shopping mall – and most parents have already taught their kids via their own dismissive behaviour, that this kind of attention seeking behaviour won’t yield results.

So why then are we surprised when our kids ignore us?

Shout Instructions, Not Names

The other thing to remember is that kids with isms generally do not learn about behaviour desired by others in the normal way. They don’t tend to rely on generalisations of past experience to set current behaviour. Often they need to be told exactly what is needed.

They also tend to have their own patterns of behaviour which include reduced contact, particularly in the area of eye contact.

Instead of simply shouting your child’s name over and over, give further instructions;

Instead of:

“John… Johny! John!!! JOHN!!!”

“John, I need you to put that game on pause and look at me”

In our house, when we call up to our kids upstairs, we say “I want to see your faces”. This works surprisingly well.

Don’t assume that your child isn’t listening just because they’re not giving you the type of attention you’re looking for. Ask your child to repeat what you just said – you may be surprised to find that they’re listening.

Getting More Speed

If you’re finding that you need to shout to “hurry up” your kids then it’s worth considering whether you’ve allowed enough time to get ready. Remember that kids take longer than adults to get ready, kids with isms in particular.

Getting a shirt and pants on is easy for you if you’ve had thirty years of experience but for kids with fine motor skill issues, things like buttons and ties in particular present their own special problems.

Explore More >> Discipline and Kids with Special Needs

Punishing Kids

Sometimes our sense of justice gets the better of us. Sometimes we don’t feel satisfied unless we’ve served out justice.

Punishing kids with shouting or violence might feel good at the time but it achieves very little

One thing that I frequently remind myself of is that the word “discipline” comes from the word “disciple” which means teacher. If I’m applying “discipline”, I want to be sure that I’m teaching my child better behaviour.

Shouting and hitting is very much the opposite. It’s teaching your child that people with power can use negative persuasion to get others to do what they want. In other words, this type of punishment teaches your kids that bullying is okay.

Of course, allowing your child to be “naughty” without consequences will teach bad behaviours too.

The best course of action is to tie the consequences to the actions as much as possible.

Actions and Consequences are Teaching Tools

For example, if your child refuses to do their homework, reschedule it for later; “when dad gets home” or tomorrow, if possible. If the refusal continues, you need to remove leisure time activities as a form of discipline, such as computer games, access to wifi, etc.

Explore More >> Create a Policy for Video Games

If they have a sibling who is doing their homework, then one of the worst “punishments” is to allow the siblings to have access to leisure time facilities (your child can “know” or “hear” but don’t allow them to watch).

As soon as their work is done, you can allow them back to the devices immediately. Remember, this isn’t about punishment, this is simply showing that the time needs to be used for chores or schoolwork until their obligations are met.

Remind them that next time, they might be able to save themselves more leisure time by doing their work at the earliest possible opportunity.  It’s a great behaviour to learn and one that will help them throughout life.