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Yelling at Your Kids Doesn't Work, Makes You Look 'Weak'

There is a better way, and Stephen Marche explains one option
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2018 2:48 PM CDT
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / vm)

(Newser) – In the 1960s, 94% of parents used physical punishment on their children. In 2010, just 22% of parents did. Parents have figured out that there's a better way than spanking—and now it's time for yelling to experience that same reckoning. Most parents today yell at their kids, and in the New York Times, Stephen Marche calls the practice "the most widespread parental stupidity around today." Studies have found that shouting at kids can lead to increases in anxiety, stress, depression, and behavioral problems and decreases in self-esteem. It makes parents look out of control and weak, and all it accomplishes is teaching kids to yell themselves. "Yelling, even more than spanking, is the response of a person who doesn’t know what else to do," Marche writes—before explaining what else you can do.

He highlights the ABCs of parenting, a process that does require advance planning:

  • A: antecedents. Instead of yelling at your children every time they leave their shoes strewn around the room, clearly explain to them what you want them to do—before you want them to do it. In this case, talk to them in the morning about putting their shoes away when they come home from school.
  • B: behaviors. Define, shape, and model the behavior you want. Put your own shoes away, and help your kids understand what to do.
  • C: consequences. When your child puts his or her shoes away, or even gets them closer to where they're supposed to go, go over-the-top with praise, both verbal and nonverbal (touching).
"The beauty of having a system is that instead of reacting after your kids do something bad, instead of waiting for them to mess up and then getting angry, you have a conscious plan," writes Marche. His full explanation of the system is here. (Read more parenting stories.)

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