Stop yelling!

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  November 11, 2009 06:00 AM

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Hi Barbara,
My six-and-a-half-year-old daughter is very slow in eating and writing. Only if I shout at the top of my voice she listens to me. First I tell her very soft and nicely, then I lose my temper and shout - only then she does her work. For example, her homework, changes her uniform, wash hands when you come home. One more habit which has been there from 2 years of age, she holds and twists her hair and now she is losing hair, too. She does this while drinking milk, while watching TV, while writing, sleeping etc. Please help.

From: Ginny, Bangalore

Ginny,

If you yell on a regular basis, children don't hear you. They tune you out, they accept it as normal. But worst of all, if you are angry, sarcastic, or insulting when you yell, your child will, over time, accept it as a sign of rejection. A recent article in the New York Times, "For some parents, shouting is the new spanking," is an excellent perspective on this.

The fact that your daughter holds and twists her hair and is loosing her hair can be a sign of anxiety. Hair pulling can be a serious medical problem known as trichotillomania.

It sounds like you could use some professional help in managing your temper and to get a better understanding of your child's development so that you can set reasonable expectations for her behavior. It also sounds like your daughter might benefit from medical attention regarding the hair pulling.

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1 comments so far...
  1. I agree with Barbara on so many levels on this one. I think developing a firm voice that commands authority is possible without a) yelling and b) stressing out the child and leading to hair pulling. What are the consequences to not "listening" (is she not hearing? is she not paying attention? does she have any specific attentional issues? or is she chosing to ignore because she believes the mother is not serious until she starts yelling?) and what are the rewards for following through (positive attention, specific and meaningful praise and appreciation)? The bit about reasonable expectations for her behavior is also key.

    Posted by Michalita November 11, 09 09:13 PM
 
1 comments so far...
  1. I agree with Barbara on so many levels on this one. I think developing a firm voice that commands authority is possible without a) yelling and b) stressing out the child and leading to hair pulling. What are the consequences to not "listening" (is she not hearing? is she not paying attention? does she have any specific attentional issues? or is she chosing to ignore because she believes the mother is not serious until she starts yelling?) and what are the rewards for following through (positive attention, specific and meaningful praise and appreciation)? The bit about reasonable expectations for her behavior is also key.

    Posted by Michalita November 11, 09 09:13 PM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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