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Bad Yelling Habit

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I am a stay at home mom with a son, four years , and a daughter of two and a half. I yell so much that I have noticed my son starting the same trend. I always regret it later but it keeps happening. What can I do to control this?

A: You are to be congratulated for noticing and wishing to correct a habit that is unpleasant to you and your kids. Being alone with two children at these current ages can be quite difficult at times. Your son is clearly picking up on your yelling as an acceptable form of communicating.

Let's break this habit down into smaller parts that we can identify and work on. First, you must keep a journal and write down every time you yell. Keep three columns on one page of the journal. In one column write down the exact time you yelled and how long the yelling lasted (e.g., 8:20 a.m.-8:23 a.m.). In the next column write what caused you to yell (e.g., my son wouldn't stop teasing my daughter). In the third column write down how your children responded to your yelling (e.g., they cried, my son yelled back). Review your columns at the end of each day and write down how much less you are going to yell the following day.

Two more behavioral techniques: Set up a "yelling chair" in one room of your house. Select certain times of the day when you will go into that room, close the door and yell in your designated yelling chair, as much and as loudly as you choose. Also call Parent's Anonymous and ask them if you could set up a buddy system with one of their members to call them when you either feel you are about to yell or have begun yelling. Additionally, I would require you hug and say kind words to your kids as you do eight times each day; keep count to make sure you meet that total and write down your kids' responses to your hugs and kind, loving words each time you give them. Keep me posted . You will turn this habit around and take pride in doing so.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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