18 Mar Effects of Yelling on young children
We have all had moments where we need to count backwards from 10. Your two children were just wrestling in the living room and you asked them five times not to knock over something because it was going to break. What did they do? Didn’t listen and knocked it over and it broke all over the floor and themselves.
Raising voices or “yelling” at children illicit a “fight or flight” response and really should only be used in signs of trouble (thinking of when your child is about to run across a busy road). Their bodies (heart rate, breathing rate, and increased stress response) react to the situation. When they are being yelled at for something outside of a true sign of trouble, it still has that response. Maybe they aren’t getting ready fast enough? Well, yelling at them to “hurry up” is going to be a missed point because they are focused on the loudness of your voice rather than what you are saying.
What does it teach children? Yelling at children on a regular basis teaches them to yell or be aggressive to others. They look to caretakers and adults as their mentors, so to speak. So if we walk around yelling, they will think that is the way to handle conflict. Yelling is also not effective. There are many studies out there about whether or not yelling at children is detrimental to their development.
Positive guidance. This term may not be too understood outside of the Early Childhood Field, but you can probably guess what it references. Children respond better to “in the hallways we walk because if we run we might get hurt,” instead of “STOP RUNNING.” In fact, children’s minds only hear “RUNNING.” Have you ever noticed you tell a child to stop something and they literally do the same thing you just said to stop? Their minds hear the last part.
Why? As adults need to understand the “whys” for something. So do children. If your boss tells you to run a report a certain way or build a widget a certain way; for you to fully “get it” you probably want to know why? Is my boss just asking me to run the report that way because he wants to tell me what to do? Or perhaps the report needs to be ran that way because the data in the report is then used for something else (that you are not responsible for). The same is true for children. You can tell them not to run all day, but will have better results if you tell them why they can’t run.
Below are a few ideas to use when children are not listening before your voice increases to a yelling volume:
–Say “raise your hand if you hear me.” Say it calmly and don’t try to talk over them.
–Count to 10 or 100 (depending on the situation) and take a few deep breaths before reacting.
–Walk away (if you can)
–Acknowledge what the child/ren are doing. “I asked you to get dressed and you are still playing with your toys.”
–Calmly talk about how you feel. “When I ask you do something and you don’t do it, I feel frustrated.”
We are the adults and it is our job to teach children how to grow up and be great adults!