As a general rule, I don’t believe in yelling. I mean, I do believe it happens. I know plenty of yellers. But I’m not one and I don’t believe that yelling is an effective method for communicating (unless you’re being kidnapped, in which case please yell all you want!). I do not yell at my kids, under any circumstances and I’ve made it clear to my friends that yelling is not ok in my house (even if they’re yelling at their own kids). You want to yell, do it somewhere else.
I’d say my distaste for yelling stems from two things. First, my father. My dad is a very quiet and peaceful person. As a child, my parents neither spanked nor yelled at us, and my sister and I grew up to be pretty decent human beings so it can be done. Instead of yelling, my dad had two tools: “the look” and the “lecture.” If you got “the look,” you were in big trouble and it was likely you were going to get the “lecture.” The lecture was exactly that…a quiet, stern conference about your transgressions. My dad’s calm demeanor was twice as terrifying as any threat of physical violence or raised voice. I’ve been working on perfecting “the look” as a parent but it’s an art form and I have a long way to go.
Second reason: I just don’t believe that yelling serves any purpose other than as a means of intimidation and I don’t think intimidation is good grounds for any working relationship. In fact, if you take a look at the paperwork in a rape kit, you’ll find intimidation among the types of coercion used to facilitate sexual assault (not a pretty picture, right?) I don’t want to intimidate people, especially the people I love the most. So I don’t yell. Does this mean I don’t get flipping mad from time to time. Nope. I’m human and my kids and my fiancé push my buttons sometimes. But they are still the most important people in my life. I seek understanding, cooperation, collaboration and I do it with a deep breath and a calm voice, even when I’m fuming.
My stance on yelling does come from experience. When my son was a toddler, he jumped onto my back when I was picking toys up on the floor one day. It startled me and hurt and I yelled at him to stop. As the words left my mouth and hit his little perfect ears, I saw the look on his face, a look of horror. I watched his little face crinkle up and realized that all the anguish he was feeling was a direct result of my behavior. I have never felt that bad in my entire life and it was at that precise moment that I decided I would never yell at my child again, no matter what. And I never have. That moment stays with me as a vivid representation of the damage we can so easily to do to one another with just a raised voice. Add mean words and the combination is deadly.
I’ve gotten push back on my anti-yelling stance before and I’m sure I will again. But I would challenge all the yellers out there to consider whether yelling really achieves its goal. Does it lead to understanding or does it simply create fear? In my experience, yelling leads to defiance, avoidance, fear, shame, doubt and perhaps compliance (though I know a whole lot of people who simply learned to avoid the yelling by never getting caught).
What are your thoughts on yelling?
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.
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