How do we get to the point where our blood curdles over and we're yelling at our kids? In a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, "researchers suspect parents are yelling more. Parents have been conditioned to avoid spanking, so they vent their anger and frustration by shouting instead." In an attempt to understand why I yelled, I decided to stop for a week... and try whispering instead.
Dr. Phil came on the Today show to talk about a new study on parents who yell and offered up the advice to whisper instead. "“If a child is having a tantrum, the best thing you can do is whisper because it is so different from what they normally hear. If you get down at their level and whisper, then they kind of have to shut up to hear you. They’re very, very curious.” I tested his advice and found that he was spot on - when I whispered, they listened more.
With prolonged whispering (as in, for more than a few sentences), I found that my toddler son would focus better and play with his toys for longer stretches of time and in a more calm fashion. Who knows if it was the whispering or the otherwise lack of chaos around of us, but I certainly felt less inclined to yell due to disruptive behavior.
While I'm not a huge yeller, and I don't spank my kids, I am certainly guilt of checking out when situations become difficult for me to manage. Instead of hitting or yelling, I'll check my phone or my email, which only escalates the negative behavior. Whispering is a tool I could use to stay present, yet diffuse my frustrations while rectifying the conflict.
I love watching my 4-year-old whisper with her little brother. It's not always easy being the big sister, and by whispering with them, I've also modeled a tool for her to use when dealing with frustration.
I probably won't continue to whisper as much as I have this past week, but I will certainly continue the practice. Yelling boils my blood and creates an immeasurable amount of tension in me that can't at all be healthy. Whispering emotes without overtaking your body, and ultimately makes for a more laid back mom.
As noted in the WSJ, "Parents can learn to notice signs that a blowup is brewing and dial down their own tension. Warning signs can include: tightness in the throat or chest, shallow or rapid breathing, a clenching of the teeth or jaw, negative thoughts about oneself or feelings of being overwhelmed." By removing the yelling in our home, albeit for a short time, even my husband and I have fallen into a less stressful routine.