by JAMES WILKINSON
Do you yell at your kids?
Not just when they are in danger (I think that might be quite a normal reaction) but every time that they annoy you or disobey you? From what I can see a lot of people use verbal aggression as a parenting technique. I know that I have.
I caught myself raising my voice the other day and suddenly it struck me how aggressive it sounded. I tried to put myself in my daughter’s shoes.
Here is a grown man (incredibly well built and powerful I might add!) standing over a little girl and raising his voice and altering his tone to make it sound more threatening.
It started with a firm tone that gradually escalated into verbal aggression when the instructions were not followed. I then stopped myself, took a couple of deep breaths and did the only thing that I could possibly do in the circumstances. I apologised.
“I’m sorry for yelling at you honey. I didn’t mean to frighten you. It just makes me so very cranky when you won’t do what you are asked.”
And that is it isn’t it? We get angry and lose control of the situation when our kids will not do what they are told. We raise our voices and try to verbally force them to obey our instructions.
When our expectations are not met the instructions become firmer and more aggressive in line with our diminishing patience. Kids certainly need our direction and guidance although I’m not quite sure what screaming at them is trying to achieve?
Is raising one’s voice the only way we know how to demonstrate that we are serious?
Is verbal aggression (like physical violence) used to induce a fear response in order to gain compliance? Are we trying to scare our kids into doing what they are told? If we are, is that really much different to the threat of physical violence?
A firm and serious tone can quickly develop into aggressive yelling without realizing it and I felt horrified when I thought that I may have elicited a fear response in my daughter from raising my voice at her.
From then on I tried to control my responses and not let her get the better of me in that way. Fancy a small child having psychological control over a grown up like that?
On many occasions I have found myself getting extremely frustrated by my daughter’s antics and the only way I know how to diffuse these situations is to totally change my response.