What Would Happen If You Didn’t Yell at Your Child for 2 Weeks?
According to research, if you often raise your voice at a child, it will make him aggressive, withdrawn and insecure. And it doesn’t do much good for the parents either as the added daily stress worsens relationships in the family. Predictably, at some point in their lives, every adult asks the question, “Is it possible to communicate with my child on equal terms, without any screaming or anger?”
Once again, beating myself up about an evening quarrel I had with my 4-year-old son Michael, I realized that I did not want to ever raise my voice at him again. He is a clever, independent boy and I was sure that I could communicate with him in a way that didn’t lead to any quarrels or insults.
So, armed with the advice of psychologists, I firmly decided to control my temper and write down everything that would happen during the next 2 weeks. And luckily for Bright Side readers, I’ll tell you what happened and what both of us had to go through.
I took this issue seriously and started looking up advice given to parents like me by specialists.
This anger chart is one of my new parenting tools.
There is tons of advice about parenting and anger management out there, so I immediately decided to reject the banal ones that say things like, “Let go of your anger,” or “Imagine yourself in the place of a child.” I tried to choose only those that could be immediately applied in practice.
In the end, I decided to listen to the following recommendations:
- Allow the child to assess my progress by giving him stickers to put on a special report card so that he feels that I was respectful of him that day.
- Make an anger chart where I must write down the times I shout at my son as well as the reasons why I lose my temper.
- If you really want to yell, whisper instead.
- If I’m feeling that I’m going to snap, I must wait 10 seconds before I start talking again.
- Look for signals of anger like clenched fists, gnashing of teeth, and hot flashes. Once I have detected them, keep silent until I start feeling normal again.
- Instead of shouting, try clapping my hands. It seemed strange but at the same time, I was intrigued by something being so simple and effective.
- I also made myself a reminder for the first few days by drawing a crossed out megaphone icon on the back of my hand.
I set a rule for myself not to replace yelling with equally negative alternatives like threats, for example.
I decided to start not on a Monday but instead, on a Thursday in order to eliminate the risk of putting it off indefinitely.
Day 1. Everything went smoothly. I was excited about the changes to come, was happy to keep an eye on my behavior, and never raised my voice once that day. But as I expected, everything was not that simple.
Michael thought of his own reminder to stay kind by drawing this with a harmless washout marker.
Day 2. Michael noticed the reminder on my hand and asked if he could have one too. “For me not to pull you by the ears,” he said. I drew one for him. As he fought to pull his father by the ear that night, my son began to cry and rub his hand lamenting, “Why did I agree to this? Why did I come up with this? Why did I go for this?” Listening to these exclamations while trying to remain calm, I was asking myself the same questions.
Days 3-4. The system for assessing my behavior did not work for us. Apparently, it is designed for older children. Michael did not even try to understand the essence of the evaluation, he just liked sticking on the stickers.
Day 5. Difficulties started to occur. Michael began to allow himself a lot more causeless whining. I had to introduce a new rule: “I will continue getting rid of screaming if you keep down the nagging.” It worked. He began to learn how to calmly say his demands and complaints that used to be sung in a stiff, squeaky, unhappy tone. He also became more receptive to demands made with calm words (for example, picking up toys after only being told once to do so).
Collecting toys didn’t drive both of us mad anymore.
Day 6. Michael started teasing me. The little one would make a mess and immediately get me to start counting to 10. The first few times it was funny, but then it started to get irritating. I asked him not to do it again. He listened. But for some reason, I stopped using the method.
Day 7. On the 7th day, I noticed that there was a lot less anger, screaming, and whining in our lives. All the times I raised my voice I was just pronouncing his name loudly. Soon this was replaced with clapping.
Here’s what happens when you try to write without looking.
Day 8. The first serious failure happened on this day. Michael brought home his homework. I sat down with him ready to be a nice mother who would remain calm but ended up being a psychologically unbalanced lady with trembling hands. What can I say, children’s copybooks are not for the faint of heart!
Day 9. I was feeling remorse for the day before, which led me to stay up late, and on the 9th day I woke up worn out. It was more difficult to behave well after this.
Day 10. This day marked the beginning of scream-free days! Even my husband who was too busy to observe what was happening said that changes in the behavior of our child were visible to the naked eye.
Day 11. My son learned to conduct dialogue (reluctantly) and began to agree to compromises. He also attempted to ask for what he wanted, periodically asking questions like, “Do you mind if I turn on the air conditioner?” I was overwhelmed by his unprecedented enthusiasm.
Michael is happy to show that he does not mind sharing his delicious food.
Day 12. Only on this day, I finally used the advice about replacing screaming with whispering. I was trying to explain to Michael why it’s not okay to tell strangers that they stink, but he was rolling around his toy car, not seeming to hear me at all.
In the past, I would start yelling to get his attention. But this time, cutting my words down to a minimum, I whispered in his ear. It was much more effective than any scream because he immediately got involved in the conversation and asked a few questions about how to communicate with strangers. Since then, uncomfortable situations like this ceased to exist.
Day 13. Preparing to assess the final results, I unexpectedly lost it again. Michael refused to try to ride a bicycle, even though he begged us for a month to buy one for him. It was so strange and incomprehensible to me that I started shouting.
After this, despite feeling remorse, I could not stop feeling angry for a long time. Already familiar to me, the symptoms of anger did not go away. I think sometimes even in motherhood, it is vitally important to delegate authority. Once this idea woke up the beast in me, I let my son discuss the situation with his dad, removing myself from the situation.
Day 14. It may seem that the experience was unsuccessful due to the 2 failures, but I believe that it was a success. At least I was able to clarify some important moments for myself.
Here’s what I found out about myself:
- If my child’s behavior has pissed me off, it is likely to happen again. Therefore, I cannot leave such moments without giving them attention.
- If I had to shout, it’s important to apologize in a timely manner.
- The behavior of my child is a reflection of our attitude toward him — his words are not empty ones.
- Before introducing these new rules, I raised my voice in conversation with Michael about 12 times. He showed the same emotional instability and about 80% of his requests and reactions to bans turned into nagging.
- Now I almost never have to raise my voice (this only happens every 4-5 days). Michael also has become much calmer, is learning to respond wisely to things he does not like, and whines about once every 1-2 days. This suits me well enough.
I am very glad that I finally introduced the rule of not raising my voice in our lives. It made such a change in our family’s relationship and I simply could not have achieved this with any other methods.
Have you ever tried similar experiments in your family? What new rule would you like to introduce into your life? Tell us in the comments!