The Adventures Of Fatherhood – March 31, 2023

Parenting teens brings out the best and worst of me.

In some ways, I feel like I am going through puberty all over again with my son, Beckett, who turns 15 in May. He’s a great kid with a huge heart. His positives far outweigh his negatives, but there are moments when he upsets me and his mom by the way he treats us or approaches things.

I am a patient person but there are times when my teenager frustrates me and I lose my cool and raise my voice. There have been some passionate conversations that could be construed as screaming matches. These sorts of confrontations are the worst, and I have come to realize it’s bad for him and us.

Scrolling through social media this week I came across a story on the Raising Teens Today website headlined, “6 Eye-Opening Reasons Why You should Stop Yelling At Your Teen.” It was a good read with a few takeaways to remind me to take a deep breath, walk away and chill before raising my voice.

#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: … 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, 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.

… 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

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.