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Is yelling the new spanking?

Dr. Melissa Johnson has worked at WakeMed as a pediatric psychologist and coordinator of the Developmental Team of the Pediatric/Neonatology Teaching Service for 23 years. In this position, she provides clinical services to the children and families in the neonatal, pediatric, and outpatient follow-up clinic.  

Melissa Johnson, PhD
Melissa Johnson, PhD

This week the New York Times included a lengthy article about how yelling has become the new norm  for American families.  It’s true that every parent has probably yelled at one point or another egged on by job stresses or confrontations; and for this they should not beat themselves up.  We are all human – even parents.  But if parents find themselves yelling a lot then they might want to evaluate different ways to manage daily situations to avoid having to yell. For example, if getting your child dressed is a hot button in your house like it used to be in mine, then you might want to rearrange your routine so it will go more smoothly.  Would setting the clothes out the night before be helpful?  Could you create a sticker chart where the child gets rewarded for being cooperative?  If you are stumped and cannot identify a solution, it would probably help to brainstorm creative ideas with fellow parents.

A firm tone of voice can be a very important tool in child rearing.  And if you yell all the time then it is likely that your child will not take you seriously when you are discussing something important.  Kids typically react in one of two ways to yelling – they will either be overwhelmed or they may just ignore it depending on temperament – but either way I think we can all agree that consistent yelling is not a constructive behavior.

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