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Do you have a “yeller” in your family?

Are you the “yeller” in your family?


Lest you are confused…let me define the word. A “yeller” is…

Someone who knows no volume control.

Someone who shrieks no matter what the issue is… large or small.

Someone who has no sensitivity to pitch. The only pitch is loud and louder.

Someone who wants to be noticed, and in turn becomes a “verbal terrorist.”


Now that you can recognize the “yeller”, let me tell you about the negative effects of this behavior.

Current research shows that someone who yells is as abusive as someone who uses physical force. Yelling inflicts emotional abuse, producing the same scars on children as a slap in the face. These scars are ones you cannot see, but are as deep and poignant as if you were physically abused (and have a longer lasting resonance).

Research also shows that many yellers are not aware of alternatives. It is those alternatives, in fact, which actually produce the desired result. So, lets look at the alternatives and find a healthier way to communicate.

Create a family sticker chart. Include all members of the family. To keep it light, you might even put the family pet on the chart. Each time you choose an alternative behavior to yelling, give yourself or the family member a sticker. If you have gone 7 days without yelling, there will be a small prize at the end of the week. (Your family can think of a meaningful reward for each family member). If you yell, however, remove a sticker. This can be a great incentive to replace yelling with new patterns.

To develop new patterns, here are seven keys to reduce yelling:

1. Count to 5 when you feel like yelling. Take a deep breathe as you’re counting. Count slowly. Breathe in and out.

2. Give yourself a time out when you feel like yelling. Even mommy and daddy can have time outs to remove themselves from a stressful situation. When you feel more in control, come back and speak in a calm manner. Share your experience with your family in a concrete way. i.e.: mommy almost lost her temper and felt like yelling, so she gave herself a mommy “time out”.

3. Yelling is often a substitute for an expression of anger. Have a family discussion about anger.

4. Have a family whisper hour.

5. Point out characters in movies or on television who yell as a way to express anger. Does it have the desired effect on the person they are yelling at?

6. After a family member yells, have a family discussion (or a one on one) about why they felt it was necessary to yell. i.e.: did they need attention, were they frustrated? What behaviors could have been alternatives to express their feelings?

7. At bedtime, praise your child when they are able to control yelling.

Notice how good it feels to be calm and to be more able to express yourself without hurting others. That may be the biggest reward of all!