Why Yelling Doesn’t Work

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I recently saw a video of a mom defending her decision to yell at her kids to get them to behave. Her rationale was that she yells because it “works.” It gets things done.
Yelling may seem effective on the surface – until we realize it becomes the only method that “works,” and we find ourselves yelling at our kids all the time. Most of us don’t want to be known as “yellers,” but at this point, it may not feel like we have a choice.

The Hyperarousal Effect

Here’s the scientific problem with yelling. When we shock our kids with the loud sound of our voice, we put them into a state that’s known as hyperarousal. Now, hyperarousal is extremely helpful and even essential when it comes to protecting our kids or ourselves from a dangerous situation. I am all about yelling if a child is about to touch a hot stove or run into a busy street. In those cases, I need to get their attention immediately.
However, hyperarousal can be counterproductive when the reason for the yelling is simply to get a child to clean his room – or to stop whining about having to clean his room. The problem is that hyperarousal makes us lose access to our blue brain or neocortex. This is the area of the brain where logic, reasoning, analysis, and language live. When we can’t use this area, emotions tend to take over.

Setting Your Child Up for Reactivity

An emotional child is one that simply reacts to stimulus. Again, when a child is heading out into a busy street, reaction to that stimulus is exactly what we want. We need our child to stop when we raise our voice and provoke that hyperarousal effect. However, when we are battling over a clean room, hyperarousal isn’t the most efficient method for achieving the tidiness we want.
A stimulus-reactive child doesn’t listen – they react. The blue brain goes offline, and the emotions take over. Parents that yell find out sooner than later that they must constantly yell to get their children to react. Moreover, the sound must get louder and louder over time to elicit the same response. The end result? A whole lot of yelling and not so much listening and learning – because the yelling parent has made it neurologically impossible.
Here’s the other problem with chronic yelling – it wires the parent as much as the child. Parents that yell regularly are also wiring themselves for hyperarousal, which will make them more apt to yell faster. So, you have emotional reactions on both sides and no logic to provide balance and proper training.


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The Better Option

Here’s the really amazing news – you can set boundaries for your kids without yelling at them. You can train them to listen and learn from your direction. You can teach them skills so they can follow your direction correctly. It’s a win-win that is much more appealing to yelling on both sides.
The Logical Consequences Process we teach in turn teaches your kids to think critically and independently. Instead of following the crowd, they will be following your instruction. Moreover, when they mess up? They will learn how to make amends. No yelling involved!

The Parent Posse is Here to Help

All this advice makes sense, but what do you do with it now? The first step is to join our Parenting Posse, where we offer tons of resources to help parents set and maintain boundaries and get things done – without yelling. We also offer a free script pack that is filled with tips for managing crazy-making behaviours with a simple one-liner. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

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About Allana

Hi, I’m Allana. I teach parents of toddlers and preschoolers why their children are misbehaving and what to do about it without yelling, shaming, or using time-outs. When not teaching parents about behaviour you can generally find me chasing around my two boys, reading cheesy romance novels, or hanging out with my own parents.

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