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When not to shout at your kids!

May 11, 2014

1509896_687343708268_2110143034_nIf you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you’ll probably know that I’m a dad to two young boys; Caleb-Jack (aged 3 and a half) and Reuben (aged 18 months).

Now I’m no expert to parenting and I’d never profess to be, but I have learnt a few things here and there.

I’m a big fan of discipline, in fact I would argue that our society is suffering because of a lack of it… BUT there are 5 scenarios I’ve come across when I really think it’s a bad idea to shout at your kids:

1. When your kid does something wrong because they genuinely didn’t know any better

Imagine the scene – you’re pushing the supermarket trolley down a packed aisle and then you notice your 1 year old has grabbed a jar of mayonnaise only to throw it on the floor. Mortified you shout at your kid as you figure out what to do about the mayonnaise mess your kid has created.

The thing is, did your child realise it was wrong to grab the jar that was positioned within reaching distance? The likelihood is they had no idea, and all that’s happened is you’ve taken your embarassment out on your poor child who doesn’t understand why.

Now obviously discipline doesn’t necessarily mean shouting or smacking – sometimes it can just mean advising. In this sort of situation there’s nothing wrong with being firm and explaining that it’s not OK to just grab things from shelves – but is it really fair to shout or smack a child for doing something that he or she didn’t understand was wrong to do?

Sometimes we would solve a lot of problems if we as parents were a little better at communicating to our children what we expect of them.

2. When your kid does something they see you do

angry_parent_baby_800472989I remember telling off my eldest boy Caleb-Jack for biting my arm and even giving him a light smack on his hand. He cried of course, but I knew I was right to smack him… or was I? I had a friend with me at the time who very graciously pointed out that just a few minutes earlier, whilst tickling Caleb-Jack, I had been playfully biting his arm. I couldn’t believe how hypocritical and unfair I had been. He was just wanting to continue playing and I shouted at him for it.

I wonder how many times we shout at our kids for only doing things they see us do.

We have to be careful with this one of course – just because we’ve done it too it doesn’t always mean that it’s right to be copied, but it’s worth remembering that when dealing with young children it can be incredibly difficult for them to learn what’s wrong and right if they copy the behaviour they see from their parents only then to be punished for it.

3. When your kid inconveniences you

Shamefully this is one that I can so often be guilty of. Frustration can lead to a sincere lack of patience, especially when you’re tired and then all of a sudden we find ourselves treating God’s precious gifts with such disdain.

A small example can be found when I’m putting my boys to bed and they want me to read just one more story to them and I have a shed load of work to do so end up just shouting angrily at them.

Again it’s worth being careful with this one – children will push the boundaries and get on your nerves – it’s part of them figuring out what they can get away with. But when you’re getting frustrated mainly because your child is inconveniencing you then it’s worth remembering that this little person needs you to be gracious and patient with them… after all they are still learning… and so are you by the way.

4. When your kid accidentally injures you

I did this literally a few days ago. I was playing with Caleb-Jack and he head-butted me causing me to bite my lip. I got instantly cross with him. Thankfully however I managed to catch myself doing it and so stopped and apologised for being angry.

I wish I could say that I’ve always been quick to correct myself in this regard… but… well I haven’t.

If your kid accidentally injures you I’m not sure it’s ever right to get cross with them – even if it’s really tempting to.

5. When your child behaves childishly

A-child-playing-outdoors--005I guess it’s fair to say that a big part of parenting is about preparing your child for adult life, however it’s very easy in our day and age for children to grow up too quickly, and we’re not helping matters when we rebuke children for behaving childishly.

It’s easy for us as adults to get very grumpy and a little boring and as such we find the childishness of our kids slightly irritating.

NEWS FLASH: If your child is 5 – then it’s likely they will behave like a 5 year old. Yes it’s healthy parenting to encourage our kids towards adulthood – but don’t rush them – let them take their time. Allow them to enjoy their childhood – be the catalyst to them creating brilliant memories that they will carry with them long into the golden years of their life.

Childhood can and should be incredibly precious, and incredibly beautiful.

Everyone knows what happens if you try to rush baking a cake… it all goes horribly wrong. It takes decades for a child to turn into an adult – it’s not a process that should be rushed – it’s a process that should be nourished and enjoyed.

Just as a quick side point – your children will learn from you what adulthood should look like, in fact they’ll even start to shape their understanding of God on the basis of how you treat them. So consider them in the same way God considers you – precious and worth dying for, that perspective will always help with parenting.

Here are my 5 examples of when it’s not OK to shout at your kids – perhaps you have some other examples you’re aware of – please feel free to leave a comment.





From → Life Advice

One Comment
  1. Sylvia permalink

    These are all great reminders. Always distinguish between childish irresponsibility and wilful disobedience. For example, when he spills his drink all over the carpet it’s often more about lack of fine motor control than trying to annoy you!

    But please, unless the child is in imminent danger, don’t shout anyway! Parents are the adults and need to behave with self-control. Shouting usually means we’re full of anger and frustration and will rouse that in the child too or make them cower. Discipline should be a calm response to deliberately inappropriate behaviour, dealing out consequences which the child has been lead to expect previously. In other words, set boundaries and enforce them when challenged.

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