Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Research: Is Yelling at Kids Worse than Hitting?



Yesterday my daughter was in one of those moods.  She was deliberately trying to irritate everyone.  I take that back...she was trying to be funny and in the process was being super annoying.  For example, when it was time to brush her teeth, she went into the bathroom and said, "Watch this, Mommy!"

She proceeded to knock over the soap holder, spilling soap everywhere and she grinned the entire time.  She was genuinely trying to make me laugh and didn't have a clue that I wouldn't think it was funny to knock over the soap at 7:45 after a long day. 

I wanted to say, "What is wrong with you today?  Why are you being so annoying?"  

Yet I didn't.  A new study out by the American Academy of Pediatrics made me think twice and I am eternally grateful for these studies that force me to take a step back and evaluate how I interact with my children.  This study points out that although physical abuse is clearly harmful, consistently belittling a child can also have long-lasting negative effects on their overall well-being.  The study goes on to point out that it's very difficult to spot true verbal abuse in children, but that it can be equally as abusive, if not more.  It defines verbal abuse as:

"Emotional or psychological abuse is a repeated pattern of behavior by a parent or caregiver that can be verbal or nonverbal, active or passive, intentional or unintentional, but is interpreted negatively by a child, and can result in developmental, social, emotional and academic problems."

Of course, I don't think I abuse my children in any way.  I tell them I love them constantly, and I hug and kiss them way more than they really want.  The key to the definition given by the AAP is a repeated pattern.  Yes, I've yelled before, but I don't yell often, so I'm sure my kids are fine.  The point is that I have definitely been tempted to belittle them when I've had a long day and they talk back to me.  I've also seen first-hand parents who say very mean things to their kids, such as "Ugh, what is wrong with you?  I've had enough of you for one day.  I seriously can't stand you today!"

These are good parents saying these things.  They just get frazzled and don't think about what they're saying.  Like me, I'm sure they regret it when they say mean things, so this research does make me pause and think about how I interact and speak to my kids on a daily basis.  Here are a few examples that I thought of:

Situation 1:  Munchkin Girl whines all day long.  Everything she wants is said with a whine and nothing I do seems to please her.  It is making me so crazy I feel that I'm going to snap at any minute.

What I want to say:  "What is wrong with you?  Why do you have to whine all day long?  I am SO SICK of this whining!!"

What would be better to say:  "I would sure love to help you, but I can't until you ask me in a nice voice.  I can't help girls who are whining." And then walk away and force her to come and ask me in a nice voice.

Situation 2:  I spend 30 minutes making spaghetti and when I serve it, both kids complain that they didn't want spaghetti, that they wanted different plates and they don't like the forks I gave them.
What I want to say:  "Quit complaining!   I spent all day making this stupid dinner for you and if you don't like it you can just go to your room!!"

What might be better: "That is so sad that you don't like your dinner.  Here, why don't you hand me your plate and I'll put everything away.  Maybe you'll like your dinner better tomorrow."   (I've done this before.  It's very effective when they realize they won't be getting any dinner at all if they don't stop complaining).

Situation 3:  Both kids are playing in the family room and are having fun until suddenly Munckin Girl realizes that Little Buddy is enjoying playing with his hammer set.  She walks over, steals his hammer and then Little Buddy smacks her in the head to get it back.  She then proceeds to starts pounding him with the hammer and they are both crying hysterically.

What I want to say:  "THAT'S IT!!  What is wrong with you two?  Why can't we ever have some peace and quiet?!?  You're driving me CRAZY!!"

What would be better: "Okay, you two are in a time-out in different rooms.  You can sit in the family room and you can sit right here in the dining room.  I'm going to be in the kitchen and you are welcome to come hang out with me when you are ready to stop pestering each other and act nicely." (Again, I've tried this.  They tend to cry for several minutes and I tell them I know how they feel and they are welcome to come out as soon as they stop crying and are ready to be nice.  I learned this from a neighbor who has 6 children.  Children really hate to be secluded so it works remarkably well)

If you want to find out more about how to make kids behave so you can yell less, please consider buying a copy of my newly released book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.  We give hundreds of ideas on how to keep kids buys in a productive way to stimulate their natural curiosity and prepare them for Kindergarten by giving them interesting yet challenging games to play every day.  You will get lots of information about how kids behave better if they are:

1.  Given challenging projects and activities through the week to stimulate their active little brains
2.  Given lots of quality time with Mom or Dad, where they are praised for their actual accomplishments, such as painting or something creative.
3.  Given appropriate punishments for unwanted behavior, but the punishment should be done without belittling and when they've paid their price, it should be over and parents shouldn't hold a grudge.

4.  Given lots of opportunity to sleep!

We would love for you watch this video, where we speak more about what we have created and how it can help you!












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33 comments:

  1. Congrats on publishing your book!! Soooo exciting! I will be recommending it to my families :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much!! I am truly honored that ou old recommend it!!

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  2. Thanks for posting this. Just yesterday, I was screaming at my 2 yr old son (it seems like the only way he listens to me lately-that he got me to crack and mommy's yelling so she must mean business now...), and I stopped myself thinking, OMG. I sound just like my father. This is NOT right (Not fun childhood times). I really appreciate your examples of alternatives-I've never belittled my son "with what is wrong with you?, Why are you so stupid?" but I've definately done the "Can't you stop being annoying? Mommy needs a break, and you need a nap." Hopefully, I haven't scarred him too badly, but I'm definatly re-evaluating how I talk to him now. Thanks again for the post.

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    1. You are very welcome! Don't worry it happens to all of us!!

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  3. Great post (and I say that because you actually offer some good advice to us frazzled moms)! Also--I'm about halfway through your book, and it's a true gem in my quest to figure out how to yell less and enjoy my boys more. I'm glad I found your blog.

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    1. You made my night!!! I am so thrilled you are reading nd enjoying the book!!

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  4. What a great post!! Congrats on the book as well. Thank you for sharing such interesting info.

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  5. Just stumbled on your site through pinterest. Immediately purchased your book on Kindle. My impulse is to be a yeller (though I don't typically use belittling words), but I'm working to overcome that. I'm sure your book will help in my quest for more engaging and stimulating activities.

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    1. Amy you are so nice!! I truly hope you enjoy the book! Please come back and share your thoughts if you have a moment!

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  6. I actually pin this the other day , thank you so much, sometimes we as parents have to step back and see the whole citrus and remember we used to be children too. I have a 9 yr old ADHD child and it s sooooooo hard at times , but it does help thank you. marjorie

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    1. Marjorie what a great way to say it! Thanks for visiting!

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  7. I actually pin this the other day , thank you so much, sometimes we as parents have to step back and see the whole citrus and remember we used to be children too. I have a 9 yr old ADHD child and it s sooooooo hard at times , but it does help thank you. marjorie

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  8. I love my child to death but their are some days were I have been in situation one because the whining drives me insane I would rather have my child scream then whine. I think sometimes parents crack we are only human. Thanks for awesome post

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    1. Glad to hear you have been in the same situation! Thanks for the sweet comment!

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  9. Hi, I happen to stumble upon your blog via 733 blog design recently finished work. I love your blog by the way. I'm definitely going to be a new reader. I'm having the same trouble trying to deal with my older son and also my second son. The constant fighting, whining, crying. And because I was emotionally abuse by being called "Fat as a child." The only thing that I know how to do is yell or hit. I've watched myself and try to do the things above since becoming a preschool teacher in 2009. But it's hard, but doable! Congrats on your book :)

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    1. Thanks so much amber! I loved 733 too by the way!

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  10. Hi, I happen to stumble upon your blog via 733 blog design recently finished work. I love your blog by the way. I'm definitely going to be a new reader. I'm having the same trouble trying to deal with my older son and also my second son. The constant fighting, whining, crying. And because I was emotionally abuse by being called "Fat as a child." The only thing that I know how to do is yell or hit. I've watched myself and try to do the things above since becoming a preschool teacher in 2009. But it's hard, but doable! Congrats on your book :)

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  11. so what are your credentials exactly???

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    1. I'm not quite sure I understand the question....I reported a research study done by the academy of Pediatrics. Then I shared my thoughts after I reassessed my daily interactions with my kids. Does that answer your question? Thanks for stopping by! It's nice to see a fellow ortho wife!

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  12. Great article! I completely understand this. My mom was a yeller and once she started, it went on forever. I remember saying to her on many occasions that I wished she'd just hit me and get it over with. I'm always careful about what I say to my kids & I very rarely ever yell at them out of anger although I have done that and then I've felt horrible afterwards. I put their behaviors down, but never them (ex: I don't speak whine, can you ask again with words I understand?).

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  13. Awesome blog post! There are so many tricks of the trade when it comes to interacting with children, and I LOVE learning them. Time I've wasted by yelling and belittling makes me cringe. It is simple to follow research approved ideas, like diverting a childs' thoughts to get thru a headstrong hurdle, showing respect while disciplining, etc. They just need to be learned! I am grateful for these kinds of helpful reads. :) Thanks.

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  14. Hi there, I followed a pin on Pinterest to your blog, and you have some great parenting ideas! I wanted to comment, however, that I find the graphic "Is Yelling Worse than Hitting?" to be a bit problematic. I read the study that you linked to, and while it says that psychological abuse is "the most challenging and prevalent form of child abuse and neglect," nowhere did I read a qualitative remark that verbal abuse is "worse" or more damaging than physical abuse. In fact, the authors note that exposing children to physical violence, even if they are not themselves physically harmed, is extremely damaging psychologically. (See "Determinants of Psychological Maltreatment" http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/2/372.full)

    I've worked with abused children and was abused as a child myself. I think it's important to highlight the fact that ALL forms of abuse--sexual, verbal, physical, emotional--are damaging and hurtful, and none are better or worse than the other. When I read your post, I knew this was not what you meant, but I just wanted to put out there that abuse is abuse, even if it takes different forms. Thanks for reading, I do enjoy what I have read of your blog so far!

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  15. Thank you for this. Reading this just kind of refreshes the mind on how to try and stay calm when the kids push your buttons. Any advise on Pre-teen attitudes????
    Michelle

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  16. This is a total eye opener for me. I didn't think that I was belittling my boys by saying "What's wrong with you?" or "You are being annoying, right now." I need to think about how I react and fix it. I love my kids fully and want them to grow up happy and confident.


    Thanks!
    Trina

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  17. Honestly... Wish this came out when my mom was raising me and my sisters. My mother's responses to our misbehavior sounded exactly (word for word!) like the "What I want to say" portions of this article... Come to think of it, her responses /still/ sound like that. It's very draining and as a result my sisters and I have much shorter tempers and lower tolerance for BS than most other people our age do.

    Yelling as a form of punishment has honestly damaged my relationship with my mother... Mostly because she yelled/yells all the time. Any mothers out there reading this comment: please don't yell at your kids, no matter what stupid crap they pull. Yelling makes it seem like it's ok for your kids to yell back and then you'll just pull yourself into a world of crazy.

    If/when I have kids, I will make a note to refer back to this. I don't want to parent my kids with yelling because my absolute worst nightmare is to catch myself acting like my mom to my children.

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  18. RSS subscriber via Google Reader
    Thank you.

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  19. email subscriber: frangiepani at hotmail dot com

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  20. I'm an email subscriber.

    Nancy
    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

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  21. Love your post! I just purchased your book! :)

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    1. You are so nice michelle!! I hope you like it!!! ;-)

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  22. All awesome ideas. Do you happen to have any ideas on how to get your kids to stop whining and screaming long enough to hear you actually say those things? I feel like I am in a never ending screaming match with my kids because I have to scream to be heard over THEIR screaming *sigh* I would love to be more patient and passive, but I am never given the chance. Sometimes I think I need a megaphone so I can keep my cool and still be heard. I try waiting for them to calm down so I can talk calmly and explain what needs to change/happen, but they never let me get a word in, they don't hear me until I get loud. It's exhausting :(

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  23. It's hard to keep cool when frustrated its a good reminder how powerful we are as parents!!

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