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Am I Yelling at My Kids Too Much?

Am I Yelling at My Kids Too Much?

Today’s post is courtesy of Elizabeth Patterson, a working parent, and mom of two.

Recently, I had my thyroid gland removed and, because of the surgery and other issues, I was left with no voice for about a week. My husband joked that this procedure was just terrific and thanked the surgeon. Unfortunately, I could tell that our five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter agreed with my husband. I am now faced with a vivid scar and a harsh life lesson: I yell at my kids too much.


Everyone is impressed with our children’s verbal ability—they express themselves well, have a great vocabulary, etc. As babies, I would narrate through the course of my day and sing to them and make jokes and giggle. Aside from giving them language, I wanted to use positive parenting techniques to encourage happy behavior, set an example for a positive outlook, and show them how important—and how easy—it really is to be open for a laugh.

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Somewhere in the last five years, I’ve become an example of a drill sergeant instead. Sure, I respond to the whining, the arguments, and the tears with compassion. For about thirty seconds. At that point, I confess that I resort to raising my voice, and, if we are late, or I’m getting dinner ready, or I’ve asked six times that you get your coat on, I yell. Now my kids are yellers, too, play-acting with toys and acting out against each other. In preschool, my daughter was asked to do an emotional self-portrait…at the bottom of the page of colorful squiggles her teacher wrote that she “is mad.” Ouch. In kindergarten, my son goes to the school nurse, almost daily, after lunch, for a mystery boo-boo. He must be looking for someone to comfort him. That broke my heart.

In that week of silence, I learned to stop yelling at my kids and focus more on positive parenting. I learned to teach good manners and behavior by listening. I had to communicate in different ways, so I hugged more. I smiled more. I could still laugh. I also walked away when necessary instead of yelling. I instituted a new rule—no more shouting between rooms. If you need something, come to me and ask.

The first time I raised my voice again after the surgery, it hurt…in every way possible from my throat to my heart to my conscience. I could see the disappointment on my children’s faces.

So, even though my voice is back, I tell myself that yelling at my children will hurt. Because it always does.

Bright Horizons Parent Podcast

Hear from early childhood experts Ellen Galinsky, the Chief Science Officer at the Bezos Family Foundation and Executive Director at Mind in the Making, and Rachel Robertson, the Education and Development Vice President at Bright Horizons, as they discuss common parenting challenges and the science behind parenting that can turn frustration into great skills for life.


Elizabeth Patterson Bright Horizons BloggerI’m Elizabeth Patterson. In my late 40s, my life has completely turned around in a few short years. I was single, but now am married with two children. I used to live a simple, organized city life, but am now in the suburbs, trying to find my car keys and finally understanding years of TV commercials about serving dinner in under 30 minutes. There are ups and downs, but I think I’m the luckiest person in the world.


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