If I shout, have I screwed up as a parent?
My parents generation shouted and smacked. I didn't want to shout - or smack. I don't smack - EVER - but I find myself shouting over the madness A LOT. And then I lie awake at night feeling terrible about it and resolving to count to three the next time. Give it to me straight, am I screwing it up by shouting (my kids are school aged not babies).
2 experts and 4 parents have answered
No, you are being a human. Look, it's never ideal, is it, but believe me I have gone puce with rage yelling at slow and uncooperative kids who are taking their own sweet time getting ready for school. And there are plenty of mums I know who do exactly the same. And yes we all feel cruddy for it afterwards. I too never smack and I do strive not to shout but occasionally you know there's only so much a person can take before something goes pop. I do try to consider why situations arise that tend to make me shout. So if things are going wonky in the mornings then I will make changes to try to give us all more time. The mornings are much more pleasant when we're not all leaving the house in a mad dash with teary kids and grumpy mum. Additionally I make sure the children know I made a mistake. I tell them - sincerely - that I am sorry and that shouting is wrong and that sometimes grown ups don't get things right, and I give them big cuddles. I never let them leave or go to bed with us all feeling bad. Also I try to encourage them to speak up for themselves. I think it doesn't hurt for them to remind me if I'm being unfair and I don't want them to be too afraid to challenge me. And finally I am slowly trying to recognise the things about myself that make me lose it and endeavour not to take those out on others - especially the kids. It doesn't always work, but I am gradually getting better at it, and although there are sometimes raised voices, there is generally a bit less shouting. Best of luck. The first step to making a change is recognising the problem. And be kind to yourself. We all do it sometimes, and kids need to have boundaries and discipline.
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I don't shout at the kids and because of that my girlfriend feels that I am the more patient parent. That is bull. I don't shout because I am not with them all day long, I'm at work and it is easier for me to see these things from a distance. I have no doubt were I to be the one at home with the kids throwing tantrums my voice would be raised at times too.
I can only really agree with what the others have said. If you shout try and explain afterwards why you did so, children need to know that it is ok to be annoyed and that no one is perfect. We are there to teach them and if we were only to show smiles and rainbows and bunnies we would be doing a terrible job.
The most important thing is that they know that you love them; that is what they will remember as they grow up.
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I can't really add much to what Siobhan has already said other than to just re-assure you as a parent myself, this is completely NORMAL! I wouldn't ever smack either, and I aspire to not shouting but my goodness at times I fail at that. The crucial thing here is that you are aware of the fact you're shouting and working on ways to reduce it - the self-awareness you have is important but please don't lie awake worrying.
It's important our children see us for what we are - human beings who occasionally mess up but aren't afraid to say so and aren't too proud to apologise - that's great role modelling. As Siobhan suggests, try to see if there is any kind of pattern to when you raise your voice - are there particular stress points you can identify and if so, what needs to change to reduce the stress that causes you to shout? You say you find yourself shouting over the madness which probably means your noise is adding to the general noise in the house in which case who at that point is modelling calm, quiet behaviour (if there is such a thing!)? I have found myself simply standing there in the kitchen watching the ensuing chaos wide-eyed. Eventually, the chaos stops, everyone looks at me and I slowly, calmly explain what needs to happen i.e. you go and fetch your school bag, you finish your toast and brush your teeth etc. and remarkably that seems to work. That's on a good day mind :-)
If you find you're shouting at the kids day in day out then there may be some benefit in taking time out to talk to someone independent of the family about this, but please don't beat yourself up about it. We're all striving to be brilliant parents when actually 'good enough' is well, good enough.
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I could kiss you both. This is my hugest, biggest thing and I am so bad at it. I lost it this morning because I was tired, ill and single-parenting and she threw a fit about how she hates her curly hair. Every attempt I made to sort it out was met with tears. Eventually I got so angry I shouted. Man. I am still feeling bad.
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There are times when you have to raise your voice. With my eldest I intentionally shouted when he undid his seat belt in the car while we were moving. It was rare at the time for me to raise my voice, and it had the desired effect. We could have had a long discussion, on why we don't do that, I wanted to make it clear that on issues of safety there is no negotiation. Saving the raised voice for the times when you need them to comply is great if you can manage, but it hasn't been so easy with the youngest. Because he is competing just to be heard, his voice is often raised to begin with and we have to go one better to break through. If we were better at strategy we might avoid those situations, and we can, when we have time, but we are still learning. Take the time to give them time when you can and it might help. Like most of the other parents who responded, we were smacked as children, but don't smack ours. If we are lucky, we will raise parents who manage not to shout. (As often.) Hopefully they won't be too self-righteous about it.
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This is a big issue for most parents! They feel guilty because they shouted at their kids and then feel terrible about it.
First of all, it has already been said and goes for ALL mistakes, we are all HUMAN, and humans will always make mistakes. This is a lesson in itself, for both your kids AND yourself! Allow yourself to make mistakes and show your children how to mend a broken bond, by apologising and asking for a second chance!
Second, I'd like to know what you said before I can tell you if your shouting is harmful or not. If you call your kids names, degrade them and make them feel humiliated, let's put it this way: you have probably experienced the same thing as a child and haven't had the opportunity to learn an alternative to treat your kids differently. And yes, it can be harmful to humiliate your children or call them names, but you are NEVER too late to turn things around. Children are resilient beyond belief, so don't worry!
Third: if you shout about your OWN feelings and needs being frustrated, don't worry, let them know what is happening inside of you. As long as you don't put the blame on them, there's no need to worry. This way, you will nurture their empathy, yes, really!
If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact me, I'd love to help!