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Submission for February 2021 the article
Three Tips for Taming the Yeller in You
by: Topher Wiles
“Loud.” The best word to describe my childhood family was “loud.” I’m talking the kind of loud that could stress others out just by the sheer volume we brought to ballgames, restaurants, and movie theaters. Don’t even try to imagine the decibels achieved by arguments in our family. Many of you can empathize with my roots, so it comes as no surprise that one of our most frequent parenting tools pulled from the dad toolbox for discipline is increased volume and verbal energy. In short, we’re guilty of unnecessarily yelling at our kids; a part of my dad life that I’m not proud of.
Sure, my wife has gently reminded me to calm down when I amped up the discipline energy level too high. Yes, my personal growth readings from self-help books, devotional articles, and the Bible regularly remind me to be focused on gentle correction rather than screaming direction and punishment at the top of my lungs, yet sometimes I still struggle with yelling at my kids. I read an ancient author recently, Saul of Tarsus, who knew exactly what I was going through when he penned, “Brothers, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, correct such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won't be tempted.”
When my 11 year old son recently got into an argumentative shouting match with my 6 year old boy in the back yard, I pushed the gas pedal to the floor, launching into a loud lecture that the whole neighborhood could hear. It was the hurt look on my elder son’s downcast face that let me know I had taken the verbal lashing too far. His misty eyes made the lightbulb switch on in my brain, humbling me as I realized my boys were only modeling my corrective methods with each other.
There is hope for those of us who find ourselves unnecessarily loud with our kids, desiring a quieter and gentler way of parenting. After prayer, a quick google search can produce a lot of great ideas from many parenting sites, including here at All Pro Dad. Here are three quick tips that I’ve ingrained to help me become a more disciplined dad.
1) Sit Down! When I spot an offense, I’m often out of my seat in a flash, booming my corrective decrees and edicts. Yet, when I choose to sit down or even kneel at eye level with my kids while correcting, I find that my volume and tone lowers with my posture. Train yourself to immediately sit when correcting. Even better, give your spouse permission to remind you to sit with a simple hand gesture next time you start yelling at your kids.
2) Leave the Lesson for Later. Memorize this little alliteration pulling it out of your back pocket when you start to go loud and long. Once you’ve stopped the bad behavior in its tracks, remember that the corrective lesson can be saved for a better time when you are calmer, cooler, and collected in your thoughts (i.e. before you start the bedtime routine). You will save yourself a lot of time and energy from wasted lengthy loud lectures if you’ll remember, leave the lesson for later.
3) Know Your Triggers. Make a list and check it twice to know when you are likely to be naughty or nice. For me, I know that the worst time I can handle correction is coming home from a stressful workday or after an important phone call. Bad timing accounts for much of my temptation to yell at my kids, so I avoid those trigger moments by making sure I have time to destress with my wife for five minutes after calls and work. Knowing my triggers shifts me into discipline dad mode with a calmer mindset.
Dads, it takes time to change our loud lifestyle habits, but with grace we can do it. Apologize to your kids for your failings and have a chat with your wife about your new strategies to tame the yeller in you. Sit down, leave the lessons for later, and know your triggers as you achieve a more respectful relationship with your kids.