Do you live near neighbours who yell all the time? Do their kids scream constantly and you hear every word that is shouted between the whole family?
Well, I’m so sorry because you must live next door to me.
We are SHOUTERS. We yell in joy, frustration, anger and sorrow. We yell when dinner is ready, we’ve stubbed our toe or if one of the kids is swinging the cat around by her tail again. We shout ‘LOVE YOU!’, ‘You’re going to your room!’ and ‘Can I ever get a second to myself?’
We also love fresh air, so every door and window in the house is usually open, so all the shoutiness escapes into other peoples ears and lives.
I feel awful about it, but I can’t stop.
Last night my daughter got up from the dinner table half way through eating and I yelled; “You’re not going anywhere till you’ve eaten something!”
My husband was walking through the door and he yelled; “Wow! I just heard you all the way up the street!” God, how embarrassing.
But I didn’t have time to think about it because my daughter was yelling “That’s not fair!” and my son was shouting “Mama! Mama! Mama!” over and over again for no apparent reason. So I shouted “WHAAAAAT?”
When I am about to go outside and hang out the washing, I shout; “I’M HANGING OUT THE WASHING!”
Then, inevitably I will hear a loud “MAMAMAMAMAMA!” in stereo from the two kids.
To which I will yell; “I SAID I’M HANGING OUT THE WASHING I’LL BE THERE IN A MINUTE!”
This can go back and forth the whole time it takes me to complete my task and get inside.
I feel so sorry for my neighbours.
But I have no idea how they are all so quiet. I accept that we must be a bunch of loudmouths, but I don’t really know how to keep my voice down at home.
Is it bad for kids to live in a shouty house?
According to the experts, it can depend on the child’s personality. But the most important factor is the words that are being shouted. Is it an instruction, such as ‘Please clean your room’, a statement, like ‘You are making me very cross’ or an insult such as ‘You are an idiot!’? Yelling insults all the time can be damaging. It also depends on how loving a household is. If there’s a lot of shouting and a lot of loving, then kids may not end up being that messed up. I hope.
I would like us all to yell a bit less though. Shouting that dinner is ready and please come to the table 15 times in a row does nothing for my nerves. And also gets no reaction.
Here are some tips for shouty parents who want to turn down the volume.
· Get on the kids level, hold their hand, look them in the eye and tell them what you want them to listen to. Ask them if they understand and if they do, give them praise for listening to you. Repeat if it doesn’t work.
· Use gentle reminders – don’t shout from another room, but be a physical presence and speak in a softer voice.
· Use their name such as ‘Zoe, please go and clean your room now.’
· Keep it simple. Don’t fire a million instructions in a longwinded manner.
· Turn down the devices. If your house is full of noise and distraction, no one will process any information effectively.
· Realise that kids ignoring you is not personal. I may feel like it is, but it’s not.
I am going to try 24 hours of no yelling. No cranky yelling, no joyous yelling, no yelling for yelling’s sake.
Wish me luck.
This post originally appeared on the Nick Jr Parents website