Why We Don’t Yell

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I had a great childhood, but if I could change one thing about it, I would have stopped all of the yelling and fighting. My parents’ communication methods consisted of yelling, shouting, and criticizing. From as early as I can remember, they never got along. And from as early as I can remember, I promised myself I would never be in a relationship like that.

As with most families, the dynamic between my parents trickled down into their parenting style which meant that not only did they yell at each other, but they yelled at us too. A lot. We got yelled at for anything and everything — if we didn’t listen, if our rooms weren’t clean, if we didn’t make dinner correctly, if we thought differently than them, and on and on and on…

I coped by trying to never make mistakes, and I always tried to please them so they wouldn’t have anything to yell at me about.  When I wasn’t the one involved in whatever trivial argument was going on that day, I would lock myself in my room and play music while I cried. I never knew what to expect when I woke up each morning, and to this day when my mom or dad call me unexpectedly – I’m never surprised when something like, “We’re getting a divorce,” or “The police just left,” comes out of their mouths.

Sad, but true.

I’m sure that some of you reading this were raised in a similar environment, or in one with another issue altogether, and can understand why we have decided to do whatever we can to avoid history repeating itself. No argument between my husband and I is worth making our kiddos feel the way I did growing up.

For the most part, I turned out to be a healthy adult, one with successful personal and professional relationships. That being said, healthy communication habits don’t come naturally to me. When I am faced with conflict, I tend to be overly emotional, anxious, and will do anything I can to avoid the situation {including, but not limited to – yelling, insulting others, and shutting down completely}. I’m not proud of those things, but it’s the truth. And I think these behaviors stem directly from the toxic environment of my childhood. Thankfully, with age and practice, I’ve been able to improve my habits, and now my husband and I try to stick to three basic healthy communication rules in order to avoid the pain and frustration that comes from the behaviors listed above.

  1. No arguing or fighting in front of our children. We have agreed to save arguments for after bedtime or for whenever we can talk privately. We’re not perfect, and we’ve definitely failed at this one, but we try to stick to it as best we can in order to protect our little ones from the emotional damage that can stem from seeing mommy and daddy argue.
  2. No yelling at our children unless they are in danger. This is so hard, and I’m sure some of you won’t agree with me {and that’s okay}. But this one is non-negotiable for me. Children are tiny humans with big emotions, and they are exploring and learning about a world they just entered into. Do they do things they know they shouldn’t do? Yes. Do they purposefully disobey and test their limits? Yes. But yelling at them isn’t going to change that, and from what I’ve observed — it only makes the behavior worse. There is no one-size-fits-all answer on how to effectively communicate with your children without yelling, but there are so many great resources and articles out there that we can all find a way to be successful with a little experimentation. Again, we’re not perfect in this category, and we have both yelled at our two year old, but each day we make our best effort not to yell at her and will do the same with her little sister.
  3. Ask to be excused or ask for help. If we feel like we can’t control our emotions, we ask to be excused from the situation or ask each other for help. While in a stressful situation, if either of us feels like we can’t control our temper or volume – we always have an exit strategy in place.Whether it’s a word, a phrase, or a smoke signal, it’s so helpful to create something with your partner to let them know when you need a break to cool off. This prevents a lot of hurtful things from being said in the heat of the moment.

So far these simple rules have served us well, but we will adjust them accordingly as life changes and our daughters get older. And I’d love to hear from you – what works best for your family? We’re always open to advice and would love to hear how you make it work for your family in the comments below!

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