Parent Can’t Stop Yelling

One of the really wonderful things about being human is our ability to choose freely. It’s up to us. Of course, God gives us some very strong direction, advice and instructions; but He still leaves it up to us to choose our course of action. Therefore, when it comes to parenting, we can all do exactly as we please.

Alone in Our Home
Alone with our children, no one can stop us from saying or doing whatever we want to. Thus, if a child isn’t listening and we’re getting frustrated, we can yell at her if we so desire. We can yell at her whenever we want to, as many times a day, week, month and year as we choose to. Nonetheless, there are consequences when we yell at our children.

Short and Long Term Consequences
The short term consequences for children who are yelled at too frequently and/or too intensely may include any of the following:

  • Behavioural problems such as aggression or lack of cooperation
  • Academic problems
  • Nervous habits
  • Moodiness
  • Health issues (including headaches and stomach aches)

The long term consequences for children who are yelled at too frequently and/or too intensely may include any of the following:

  • Low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Personality disorders and other psychiatric issues
  • Addictions
  • Health issues
  • Impaired relationship with parents
  • Tendency to choose abusive friends and mates
  • Troubled marriages due to lack of anger management skills
  • Troubled parenting due to lack of anger management skills
  • Troubled work relationships
  • In some cases, criminal behaviour

Safe Havens
In homes in which parents choose to handle their feelings of frustration, fear, disappointment, rage, resentment and upset respectfully, the entire family enjoys a safe haven, an oasis in an otherwise stressful world. When parents maintain their dignity and respect the dignity of their children during moments of correction, boundary setting and discipline, their children’s brains become wired for self-control, restraint and sensitivity. In other words, when parents move through the parenting day quietly, respectfully and kindly no matter what they are feeling inside and no matter what their children are doing outside, they provide a powerful model for their children to emulate. Moreover, when they teach their children the skills involved in such self-management, they send an enduring message: family life is about respect: we do not give or receive verbal abuse no matter how frustrated, irritated, provoked or otherwise upset, we may be. The results for children reared in this manner generally include the following:

  • High regard for self and others
  • Life-long positive relationship with parents
  • Ability to achieve academic, social, mental, emotional and physical potentials
  • Reduced levels of stress; higher levels of well-being
  • A life filled with love: successful marriage and parenting experiences
  • High level of emotional intelligence leading to success in every endeavor

Yell If You Want To
If you’re tired, stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated with your spouse, annoyed at your relatives or otherwise challenged, you may feel like yelling at times. Or, if you are feeling helpless and out of control with the kids, unable to get them to do what you want, you may feel like yelling. Yelling “works” – it changes what a child is doing right now. But it comes with a price. The consequences of yelling are real. In the most minor case, where yelling occurs only rarely, it encourages self-centeredness: “When I want something and you are not providing it, then I no longer have to show you basic respect and I no longer have to behave appropriately; when I want something and you are not providing it, then I no longer have to care about your feelings – I can just scream in your face.” However, frequent and/or intense yelling does more than teach this one lesson of self-worship – it damages personality.

Nonetheless, if you want to yell, go ahead. Yell if you want to.

Spouse Contradicts Partner in Front of Kids

Father:  “Jennifer, you are kicking my feet under the table. Please take another chair.”

Jennifer:  “I don’t want to.”

Mother:  “Why should she have to move?”

Father:  “Fine. Then I’m moving – I don’t have to sit here and be kicked.”

Parents have a powerful biological urge to protect their children. From anyone. Including their spouse. However, cialis parents need to differentiate between those times that they must protect their child and those times that they must keep their mouths shut! If a spouse is abusing a child (physically or psychologically harming the child to the point that Family Services would intervene if they knew about it) then of course, unhealthy a partner must intervene to put an end to the mistreatment.

However, if the spouse is simply using a parenting strategy that the other spouse doesn’t approve of, doesn’t like or doesn’t think is the best way to go, then it is crucial NOT TO INTERVENE.  When parents intervene over these kinds of non-issues, true psychological harm can occur to the child. This is the very opposite of the goal of the intervening parent. The intervener is desperately trying to arrange the very best parenting experience for his or her child. Yet, the intervention itself has many harmful effects. Let’s look at the dialogue above (and let’s make the assumption that this kind of dialogue occurs regularly in this family) to see what the child is learning from the short conversation between her mother and father:

  • Jennifer learns that women treat their husbands disrespectfully.
  • Jennifer learns that she can be rude to her father and both parents will tolerate it.
  • Jennifer learns that men are passive and weak.
  • Jennifer learns how to have a bad marriage.
  • Jennifer does not learn how husbands and wives communicate well.
  • Jennifer feels responsible for causing her parents to fight.

If Jennifer’s mom had just said something like, “Don’t speak to your dad like that. If he asked you to move, then please move right now” Jennifer would have learned the following:

  • Parents support & respect each other
  • A child needs to be respectful to her parents
  • Parents work together as a team.
  • Grown men and women are effective

In other words, mom would have helped her daughter so much more by supporting her husband even though she didn’t approve of his request. His parenting behavior wasn’t abusive – it just wasn’t to her standard. This is the area in which this mom needs to change her strategy in order to truly protect her daughter.

Parenting After Divorce

Mothers and fathers often disagree on matters pertaining to parenting. It happens when the parents are operating within the context of an intact family home and it also happens when parents have gone their separate ways through separation or divorce. However, dosage unlike their married counterparts, order divorced couples lack the trust and friendliness that is  at the foundation of marriage.

Power Plays
Let’s take an example. Nine year old Liam is terrific at karate. He’s been active in this sport for several years already and has won competitions and prizes along the way. The recently divorced parents differ on their view of this activity. Mom thinks karate is fantastic and encourages their son to practice frequently and reach for the top. Dad thinks that Liam should put his energy into league sports (as he himself did at that age): hockey, baseball, soccer, basketball and so on. In order to encourage Liam in this direction, Dad tells him that “karate is for sissies; only weirdo’s do it.” Liam, not wanting to be a sissy or a weirdo,tells Mom that he wants to quite his lessons and do team sports.

Mom is furious. She thinks Dad is playing “team sports” with her, trying his hardest to win Liam over to his side. “If he was really thinking about Liam’s welfare, he’d let our son continue doing what he’s good at. Why does he have to make Liam feel bad for doing something that he clearly loves?” For his part, Dad claims sincere best interests for his son’s welfare. “Boys have to be on teams,” he says. “I don’t want my kid being a social misfit. He’s gonna need that karate just to beat up the kids who make fun of him.”

Working Together
As previously mentioned this sort of dispute can happen just as easily within marriage as without. How would happily married folks solve the dilemma?

First of all, there would probably be a conversation between the partners. Ideally, Mom would express her view and Dad would listen and ask lots of questions about it. Then Dad would express his view and Mom would listen and ask lots of questions about it. This “listening and questioning” technique would likely uncover some common ground, such as wanting their child to be successful, happy, accepted, busy, productive and so on. Because the conversation would be mutually respectful, good will would prevail. The good will would allow for some sort of reasonable compromise. “Why don’t we continue to let him do karate, but cut down his lessons once or twice a week, and sign him up for basketball on the other nights. He could try both activities and either pursue both indefinitely or choose his own favorite.”

The very best thing for divorced families to do is to imitate the processes found in happy intact homes. The parents don’t have to love each other in order to conduct respectful conversations for the wellbeing of their kids. They just have to care enough about their kids to do it.

The Divorced Child
When one or both parties cannot or will not communicate respectfully, it is the child who is at risk. Let’s say that in our current example, neither parent is willing to change their point of view. Mom is the one who has been taking Liam to karate – should she continue doing so or stop?

Mom needs to ask herself which action on her part will contribute most to her son’s mental health. If she battles it out with Dad because she so firmly believes that karate is the best choice of leisure activity, then Liam suffers from witnessing yet more parental conflict. Moreover, if he sees that Mom is vehemently pro-karate while Dad is vehemently anti-karate, he will be torn down the middle, wanting Mom’s approval, wanting Dad’s approval and knowing that he cannot have both. In addition, both parents will be modeling a strong case for stubborn behavior, something that they will not be happy to see in Liam later on. Taking the issue to court would be costly and traumatic to the family and by the time it was settled, Liam would probably be an adult! In this scenario, Mom may choose to lose the karate battle for the sake of her child’s wellbeing. Now that Liam feels self-conscious about karate, she can empathize with his feelings using emotional coaching: “It makes sense that you wouldn’t want to do a sport that’s for sissies Liam. If you feel you’ve had enough of karate for now and want to try something different, that’s fine. It’s good to have variety and try different things.” In this way, Liam’s passion for karate is sacrificed for the sake of his overall mental health and development. He gets to feel good about himself and safe in his little divorced world. When he gets a little older, something may rekindle his interest in karate and he may decide to pursue it at that time. Whether this happens or not, however, his mom will have done the very best for him by reducing conflict and divided loyalties.

Divorced parenting involves many such sacrifices. The big picture must always take priority over the particular small issue. This requires tremendous maturity and self-control on the part of divorced parents. It hurts to feel cornered, trapped and powerless in one’s parenting. Despite the pain, wise divorced parents put their child’s needs FIRST. They do what’s best for the child. Supportive counseling can help divorced parents work through their own feelings of frustration, anger and loss that inevitably occur during parenting conflicts.

How to Deal with an Angry Spouse

We’re human and we sometimes get mad. Anger is a feeling. It is not a behavior. Behaviors are what people do, find actions that they take. When you are mad, what do you do? Do you pout? Do you shout? Do you grumble and mumble? Do you withdraw or do you attack? We all have our ways.

Expressed anger often leads to behaviors that are destructive on every level: personally, interpersonally and spiritually. Working on ourselves to reduce the amount of time we are triggered into an angry emotional state can be helpful; obviously, the less we feel anger, the less we’ll have to control our behavior. Sometimes this work can consist of self-reflection, personal development through classes or counselling or even reading books on anger management. Sometimes relaxation and stress-management counseling will help lower our anger thermostats. Sometimes psychotherapy or medication is needed in order not to be living too close to the boiling point. However, whether or not we manage to reduce our angry feelings, it is ESSENTIAL that we learn to eliminate our angry behaviors.

The Angry Spouse
Some people marry a person who turns out to have a problem with anger. Sometimes the anger is evident even in the dating period, but it is misinterpreted as being tolerable or normal. For instance, people who grow up with angry parents don’t always recognize anger as a toxic trait in a spouse-to-be. In fact, it seems rather familiar to them in a way that makes them feel like they’re at home. This is one of the great costs of angry parenting—it causes children to be at significant risk for being comfortable with angry people and therefore choosing such a person to be a spouse. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lifetime of marital pain or to the pain of divorce.

Sometimes the anger is not noticeable during the dating period, but rather is well hidden. It comes out only after the wedding, sometimes within weeks and sometimes within months. Unfortunately, marital partners do not always understand the implications of an angry outburst on the part of their spouse. Often, they think it is a freak accident, something out of character that has occurred once or twice and will never occur again. Usually, they can’t foresee what this anger will look like a couple of years down the line or what it’s effects will be on the children yet to be born.

However, there is a large body of research that informs us as to the progression and effects of anger in family life. According to the literature, angry behaviors often tend to increase over time. They don’t tend to just disappear on their own. Spouses who put up with angry behavior by remaining silent or by voicing disapproval without mentioning any real consequences, send a message loud and clear: “Go ahead and be aggressive. I’ll tolerate it.” The result is that angry behavior not only persists — it can sometimes actually worsen over time. This is true of both angry men and angry women; both genders can be guilty of escalating abusive behavior. Yelling becomes swearing. Swearing becomes stamping and slamming. Stamping and slamming becomes throwing things, followed by punching and kicking holes in the walls. Next comes assault. So many people have followed this well-worn path that it is now totally predictable by law enforcement agencies, family service agencies and mental health professionals. Spouses who don’t stop small signs of aggression when they first appear will have a much larger symptoms of violence to address in the end. Unfortunately, by that time, there may be children around who then must endure the trauma of living with aggression in the marriage. In addition, women should know that pregnancy itself is a condition that is statistically linked to a higher incidence of aggressive behavior in male partners. Therefore, the time to put a halt to any inappropriate expression of anger is long before the first pregnancy. Men need to understand that female aggression, while not always as dangerous as male aggression, can indeed lead to physical injury (sometimes serious injury or even death) and always leads to psychological injury; it hurts deeply to be so disrespected and so badly treated by someone who is supposed to be your life partner and best friend. Children are equally scarred by witnessing male or female physical and/or verbal violence.

Ending Inappropriate Expression of Anger
How does one stop one’s spouse from expressing anger inappropriately? Apply the 2X-Rule: on the very first occasion of disrespectful treatment, address the issue clearly using Step One. (If physical violence of any kind has occurred, skip this first step and go straight to step two below.)  Step one might sound something like this: “I don’t want ugly communications to be part of my marriage and my life. We can do better and if we do better, we’ll protect and nurture our love. If we don’t do better, we might lose one of the most important things we have in our lives: our affection for each other.” The next time disrespect is communicated, repeat the same message as in Step One and add a warning.  Step Two might sound something like: “This has already happened one time too many. If it happens again, I’m going to speak to “so and so” and see if he/she can refer us to a counselor.” “So and so” can be a priest or rabbi, a family doctor or another therapist. It should not be a relative (who will, upon hearing of mistreatment, never forgive your partner long after you have forgiven him or her!). It should not be a friend either (who may be unskilled and end up simply escorting you to divorce court). This step of exposing mistreatment, however, is crucial. As soon as an abusive partner realizes that his or her behavior will be exposed outside the home, healing begins to occur. No one wants outsiders to see such an unattractive picture of them. Always let an angry spouse know that others will know. Do this even if the behavior you are concerned about is verbal disrespect. Stopping such behavior in its tracks protects your marriage and allows love to flourish.

If physical aggression is occurring, make it clear to your partner that you cannot live together in the same house until that behavior is permanently rectified. Ask your doctor for a referral for your spouse to an official anger management program. Consider separating physically until the partner has a graduation certificate and you feel confident that he or she understands that you will not live with this in the marriage. Your partner can control him or herself and will only “lose control” to the extent that you permit it. The only people who truly cannot control the expression of their anger are people with severe mental illness and these people should generally be locked up away from society since they are a danger to everyone. Spouses who are only aggressive at home are very much in control of their behavior. That’s why they only scream, insult, hit or throw things but they never take a weapon and actually use it in a fatal way! They are, in fact, totally in control.

Removing inappropriate expressions of anger in your home is only the first step to building a healthy relationship. Taking classes and counseling can help build good anger management and communication skills that will safeguard love and nurture a wholesome family atmosphere. Although it is best to stop inappropriate anger before it gets a foothold, it is never too late. Healing and growth occurs throughout the lifetime.

How to Not Lose Control

You’re driving your four children to their dentist appointment. You’re already running a bit late and traffic is bad. The kids are squabbling in the back seat. Feeling pressured, you ask them to please quiet down. Unfortunately your request falls on deaf ears (because they are too busy yelling to hear you) and they continue their raucous. Stuck behind a road repair truck as the clock is ticking, you ask them once more to please quiet down. This time a little one squeals loudly as a big brother teases her, grabbing her bottle out of her hand and flinging it – right at your head. Enter adrenalin: the fight or flight response.

Parenting Under Fire
When your brain fires adrenalin, many things happen to your body and mind. Adrenalin readies you to take action in emergency situations by shutting down non-essential “services” like digestion (resulting in feelings of nausea or upset stomach) and supplying extra energy to large muscles (for attacking or fleeing). Pupils dilate, the heart pumps rapidly, hands may get sweaty, a feeling of choking or dizziness may occur. The cortex (the thinking, problem-solving part of the brain) goes offline while lower systems mobilize for physical survival.

People act rapidly and instinctively when their adrenalin is running. They don’t have the luxury of thinking, “Is there really an emergency happening right now? What would be the best action for me to take in these circumstances?” Instead, they fling the bottle back at the child’s head.

Parenting with Adrenalin
Physical assault releases adrenalin but emotional assault does this as well. When parents hear that their child was suspended from school, they can get an adrenalin rush. When they realize that their 14 year-old is still in bed (thinking that he’d left for school an hour earlier), they can get an adrenalin rush. When they discover that their youngster lied about her whereabouts, they can get an adrenalin rush.

Adrenalin gets released when the subconscious or conscious mind perceives a threat of some kind, an awareness that something is very wrong. The important trick for parents to learn is how to quickly distinguish between a physical threat that requires emergency response (i.e. a pot is in flames on the stove) and a psychological threat that requires an action plan.

Parents need to be prepared for constant adrenalin rushes during the childrearing years. Ninety-nine per cent of these will arise out of psychological threat rather than physical threat. Parents who are prepared for the adrenalin syndrome will not fall victim to its devastating consequences. Those who frequently succumb to adrenalin may find that they harm their child, themselves and their parent-child relationship. Human beings can say and do atrociously hurtful things when adrenalin is controlling their actions.

Turning Off Adrenalin
There are two main strategies for dealing with parenting-induced-adrenalin-rushes.

1. Prevention: this strategy helps reduce the number of adrenalin rushes that will be experienced. It follows Maimonides’ advice to be prepared. Maimonides, along with modern psychologists, instructs us to imagine the things that regularly can and do go wrong, picture them clearly and then picture ourselves reacting to them the way we’d like to. Picture the kids fighting. Picture them spilling and making messes. Picture them being late, rude, disobedient and all the rest. And picture your best response to these stress-inducing situations.

2. Intervention: if you suddenly find yourself in a stress-inducing situation and you’ve already experienced a rush of adrenalin, turn it off by announcing, “I need to calm down and think” and then continue your intervention by keeping your mouth tightly closed, sitting yourself down, breathing in and out deeply and slowly for several minutes, picturing yourself at age 90 and your kids at age 70, until you feel your body calming down. When you are fairly calm, open your mouth to announce: “I need to think about this and decide what I want to do. I’ll let you know soon.” And then close your mouth tightly again. Problem solve as long as you need to in order to create an appropriate action plan for the scenario you are dealing with.

By turning off unneeded adrenalin, you will help preserve loving and healthy family relationships. Your kids will give you lots of opportunity to practice this essential parenting skill!