Friday, January 23, 2015

STOP YELLING! - No one is listening

When I first met my husband one of the hardest things to get used to was how quiet he was. His speech was always clear and audible, but it was never loud. Even when upset his voice remained in an even tone. When he listened to music it was never cranked and he rarely watched TV.

I, however, came from a very loud home. My parents always had something turned on. If it wasn't the television, it would be the radio. In fact it was the radio the TV was usually still on, just turned down. Their voices were much louder because they were always talking over something and if you were upset you yelled. These were two very different environments.

Having been raised in a loud environment, I was pretty much the same. I screamed when I was angry to make my point, I always had the TV or radio on, and I even loved to fall asleep while watching a show. As you can imagine, this change was quite an adjustment. It was easy enough to get over watching so much TV when I decided it was too expensive, but the hardest part was realizing that yelling was not the way to settle an argument or make your point.

I remember the first time I had even really noticed a difference. My husband and I were driving down the road having a discussion. I don't remember the topic, all I remember is that my husband raised his voice to me and that shocked me so much it made me cry. Until that moment I never really thought about the fact that my husband never yelled before, but now it hit me like a ton of bricks. The thing is, he didn't even yell at me then. He just spoke with more force and that was ALL that was needed to get my attention!

Ever since that day I have been observing this phenomenon and have changed my ways as well. I am now more quiet like my husband, so much so that my mother often thinks that something is wrong with me. Now that I have a daughter with special needs this is a good thing because she literally hates it when things are too loud. Too many conversations in a cafeteria can upset this child, let alone a full fledged argument with yelling.

That led me to my next observation. I hardly have to yell at my child to get her to behave. Most of the time calm reasoning works best. In fact, the only time I yell is when she is in such a state that I can not get her attention any other way. Having special needs, there are times when she will have what I call a melt down. These are pretty rare, but they happen. Since yelling is pretty rare in our house when we do have a reason to yell it works! She quiets down and looks at us with utter shock. Then she listens to what we have to say and we say it in our calm steady voice again. This only works because we don't yell at her any other time, except maybe when her safety is in danger such as running into the road, etc.

Now I know that some people will be thinking that the only way they can get through to their child is to yell, so therefore they have to do it a lot. However, what I see, from both my own experience with my boys when they were young, and in observing other families, is that you don't get through by yelling, which is why you have to keep doing it. It is ineffective, therefore it has lost it's significance.

There are ways to get through to a child without yelling. In fact we find being calm and cool while dishing out consequences works best. They can stomp, yell, throw a fit, or whatever, all that does is lead to longer and harsher consequences. Be consistent with that a few times and you will be amazed at how effective this can be!

Here is what we do when Gess misbehaves. We tell her she has lost certain privileges for the rest of the day and then have her go to her room until she calms down. If she refuses and shouts "NO!!" we then look calmly at her and say, "You either go to your room now, OR you lose privileges for 2 days. If you keep yelling we will keep taking privileges, the choice is yours."  Now you have to be ready to follow through. Gess has gone weeks without privileges and at times we have had to carry her to her room. The key is to make the punishment something they love. If she was able to leave the house on her own I would probably ground her. No matter what the punishment be sure to follow through.

If you are not going to yell at your child you have to be both consistent and determined. You have to do this every single time and you must follow through. If you give in the next day and say, "oh you can have your privileges back early," you are teaching them that their yelling worked and eventually you will start yelling again too. However, if you are determined not to give in, they will eventually learn that yelling isn't working for them.

Once that happens all of you will yell less frequently and when you do it will be a better indication to those around you about what really matters to you. If I saw my daughter slap another child (which never happens) I would immediately yell at her. She would then know that was not something I took lightly. Causing harm to another is something to get upset about. But we need to reserve that for the most critical things.

Not only is our discipline more consistent but our lives are much more peaceful. Yelling and too much noise in general is just not good for a happy, healthy home. Yelling too much simply makes yelling irrelevant and you end up doing it out of habit rather than because it gets results and you teach your children to grow up and do the same.

Just watching the news I can see we live in a generation of loud, obnoxious, screamers. All the talking heads do is yell at each other, or bring on people who yell at each other. Everyone is trying to make their point by being loud about it and all it is doing is making a bunch of noise because no one listens anymore.

I say this only because I have noticed the change it has brought in me. Remember, I was a screamer once too but I learned and changed and my life is better for it. So, if you have something to say - say it, don't scream it. Observe yourself and your surroundings for the next few months. Do you notice more noise than is necessary? Do you seem to yell at your spouse or your children too much? Do you catch yourself yelling at the TV, computer, or no one at all? Maybe it's time for a change. Believe me, the more you yell the less effective it is. So stop yelling because no one is listening anyway.

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