6 Eye-Opening Reasons Why You Should Stop Yelling at Your Teen

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 6 Eye-Opening Reasons Why You Should Stop Yelling at Your Teen

There’s not a teenager on the planet who hasn’t riled up their parents at one time or another…

Teenagers are hard-wired to push boundaries in attempt to seek more independence. So, it should only be expected that with all that “boundary-pushing” going on there are going to be times when our kids push our buttons and cause us to, well… lose it.

Nearly every parent loses their temper occasionally… that’s normal. However, using yelling as a primary form of getting our kids’ attention or as discipline is more the issue we’re addressing here.

The fact is, there’s nothing wrong with getting frustrated or angry with your teen at times. What matters is what you do with that frustration and anger. (And, we all know that by the time our kids hit their teen years, they know exactly which buttons to push to trigger our tempers.)

Here are 6 eye-opening reasons why you really need to stop yelling at your teen, why it’s damaging your relationship, and techniques to apply to keep your emotions in check.

6 Eye-Opening Reasons Why You Should Stop Yelling at Your Teen

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#1 Yelling is More About You Than Your Teen

You’ve asked your 15-year-old son to take out the trash five times. Yet, every time you ask him you get a “I SAID I will… just hold on a minute!” response. Eventually, it sends you over the edge. 

Your daughter is yelling and screaming at you. She’s furious that you said “no” to something she wants to do that’s simply too dangerous in your eyes. Even though you know you’ve made the right parenting decision, you can’t help but chime in and yell back. Before you know it, you’re in a full-blown shouting match and no one is winning.

You have to own up to your behavior. It’s ultimately up to you to decide how you respond to your child. As difficult as it might be at times, we have to set an example. Our kids are taking in everything we say and do. If we yell, so will they. If we toss out inconsiderate, nasty remarks, so will they. If we insult them, they will retaliate in some way.

#2 It Conditions Your Teen to Ignore You UNTIL You Yell

You’ve tried everything and nothing works… until you yell, that is. So every day you find yourself yelling at your teen to hurry up, get off their computer or phone, start their homework, come down for dinner, or clean their room. 

Heads up, parents… it isn’t your yelling that’s prompting your teen to finally listen, it’s the fact that you’ve conditioned them to ignore you UNTIL you reach the boiling point and yell. 

#3 It Fuels Anxiety, Low-Self Esteem, and Depression

Nothing can shake a teen’s confidence more than being yelled at continuously by the parents they’re counting on to love them unconditionally.

In fact, Neil Bernstein, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of There When He Needs You: How to Be an Available, Involved, and Emotionally Connected Father to Your Son,  says that negativity is the fuel anxiety and depression need to exist and that being yelled at creates an “explosion of negativity that lingers for a long time.”

Scientific studies have also shown that conflict literally wreaks havoc on our kids’ brains. A flood of stress hormones is released which causes our kids to go into a “fight or flight” mode and when that happens complex-decision making shuts down.

#4 It Creates a Pattern That Breaks Down Your Relationship

One mom recently told me, “I come from a long line of yellers. I’ve been making a concerted effort to stop, but it’s a lot harder than I imagined.” The fact is, yelling can become a nasty habit — a habit that can slowly break down the foundation of your relationship with your teen. 

Whether you have a low boiling point or you just have a tendency to do conflict “loudly,” you’re not doing your relationship with your teen any good by blowing up every time they do something you don’t like or don’t agree with. Chances are, they totally shut down when you yell or start yelling back to defend themselves – neither of which is healthy, productive, or drawing your teen closer to you – it’s pushing them away.

#5 It Makes You Look Out of Control

According to an article in the New York Times, “Yelling doesn’t make you look authoritative. It makes you look out of control to your kids. It makes you look weak. It’s the response of a person who either doesn’t know what else to do or who can’t control their emotions.”

In the article, Alan Kazdin, professor of child psychology at Yale says, “If the goal of a parent is to get their frustration out of their system and show just how mad they are, then yelling is perfect. However, if the goal is to change their child’s behavior or develop a positive habit in their child, yelling is not the way to do that.” There are other strategies that don’t involve screaming like a maniac.

#6 Harsh Verbal Discipline Mirrors the Negative Affect of Physical Discipline

Most parents wouldn’t dream of punishing their teens physically. Yet, a study conducted by Ming-Te Wang, assistant professor of psychology in education at the University of Pittsburg’s School of Education, found that a parent’s use of verbal discipline – defined as shouting, cursing, or insulting their teen – may be just as detrimental to their teen’s long-term well-being as physical discipline.

The study also found that rather than minimizing teens’ problematic behavior (the same behavior that triggered the yelling/verbal discipline), it actually aggravates and exacerbates it. 

Even more profound, the study also revealed that “parental warmth” or the strength of a parent’s bond with their child didn’t seem to matter. Even when parents yelled at their child “out of love,” or “for their own good,” researchers found that it didn’t lessen the damage inflicted by harsh verbal discipline.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how much you love and support your teen, when you fly off the handle with a heavy dose of verbal discipline, you’re damaging your relationship with your teen and leaving them with long-term emotional scars. 

Strategies to Help You Stop Yelling

It can be difficult to abandon the idea of yelling because it gives you the false impression that you’re parenting your kids. But there are other, far more productive, ways to get through to your teen, get them listening and be a strong role model. 

#1 Acknowledge the Problem

Recognizing that you have difficulty controlling your anger/emotions is the first step in making a change. Simply by identifying the problem, you can begin to switch your brain from its “feeling” mode to its “thinking” mode. 

#2 Pay Attention to Your Triggers

When you blow a gasket, it doesn’t happen out of the blue. There’s typically a trigger. Figure out what those triggers are and you’ll be far more likely to hold your tongue when your teen sets you off.

#3 Plan How You’ll React Instead of Yelling

When you start to feel your anger or frustration rising to the surface, take action to calm yourself. Pause, take a deep breath, count to ten or count backward, walk away, take a walk, go for a short drive, or call a friend who can “talk you down.” 

#4 Focus on Your Relationship with Your Teen

Remember, when your teen feels heard and validated, they’re far more likely to listen to you.

#5 Solicit the Help of Your Kids

Talk to your kids and let them know that you’re trying to stop yelling. Tell them to gently remind you when you raise your voice so you can quickly correct your behavior.

#6 Make Sure Your Expectations Aren’t Too High

With teens, keeping expectations realistic is key. Sometimes, the reason we yell is that our expectations don’t align with what’s feasible or a reality. If you overreacted (all parents do at times) be sure to apologize. 

#7 Put Consequences in Place

Give a warning or two, that’s IT. If your teen doesn’t listen, stop yelling and stop being a pushover. Put consequences in place and stick to them. 

#8 Practice Self-Care

Make sure you’re not vitamin deprived or that you don’t have any underlying health issues that could be triggering your frustration and/or inability to control your emotion. Be sure to take care of YOU – the more rested and healthy you are (physically and mentally), the better parent you’ll be.

When you do yell, just remember, it’s not the end of the world. You’re human. Changing crummy habits can be tough, but with a little self-reflection and self-control, you can establish a calmer, more respectful dialogue with your teen. 

“The louder your teen gets, the quieter you should be. The angrier your teen becomes, the gentler you should become. The meaner your teen behaves, the kinder you should be.” ~ Eva Rito

If you enjoyed reading, “6 Eye-Opening Reasons Why You Should Stop Yelling at Your Teen,” you might also enjoy reading:

How to Stop Being an Angry Mom: 10 Triggers that are Setting You Off (and How to Manage Them)

Things Every Parent of Teens Needs to Stop Doing

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