Sunday, March 17, 2019

Yelling at Children (and Huskies) Carries With it a Very High Cost

My grandsons love dogs; Huskies in particular. They are looking forward to the day when they will be able to have a Husky of their own. Yesterday when my son came to pick up my grandsons from their sleepover, he shared how Nicolas Petit was leading in this year's Iditarod; and was expected to win. But then something unexpected happened. One of his dogs jumped onto a younger dog and Nicolas yelled at the older dog. All of the dogs in his team heard him yelling; something which he said just does not happen with him and his dogs. When he started yelling, all of the dogs refused to go a step farther in the race. Nicolas said the dogs refused to move anywhere, so they ended up having to call in snowmobiles to get them off the ice on the coast of the Bering Sea and he had to withdraw from the race. Yelling at his dogs cost him the race.

I found this so interesting, because just as yelling at the dogs caused Nicolas' dogs to "shut down" and caused him to pay a high price, yelling at our grandchildren/ children also brings with it a high price. There has been significant amounts of research about how yelling impacts children and overwhelmingly the evidence shows if we yell at children we are physically and emotionally harming them - and this actual damage is able to last throughout their lives. If you would like to read some of the research about how yelling damages and harms children check this link and this link.

If you would like some ideas of things you could do and say instead of yelling consider the ideas from this link - I'm sharing a few of my favorites here, but read the article at the link for all of them.
  • Instead of shouting, say; "Stop it". If you need to sit down with them and calmly explain why you want them to stop, do so. Know it is likely you will have to repeat this, so be ready to do so, calmly.
  • Give yourself a, "time out" and take time to breathe calmly. Do not react in anger to what your children are doing. Be calm, so get calm if you need to do so.
  • Use a firm, but soft, tone. Our Grandma with Heart, Linda Ranson Jacobs calls it a, “this is how it is” voice or a matter-of-fact voice. Read what she has to say about it at this link. Keep in mind, it is almost impossible to sound angry when you are speaking softly. An angry voice from you is likely to result in anger from your grandchild reflected back to you. Do not use an angry voice.
  • Set rules and follow through, no matter what, do what you say you will do.
  • Always let them know when you catch them doing something right - even if it is something small. Tell them you knew they could do it and give them a hug! Celebrate!
At this link Linda Ranson Jacobs shared some wonderful ways for adults to change their conversation and tone of voice by saying.
  1. What upset you so much?
  2. What did you want from us (me)?
  3. Sweetie, what was the reason you started screaming?
  4. What do you want to say now about what happened?
  5. I don’t have a consequence or punishment for you. I’m more concerned about your welfare right now. I want you to feel like you are part of this family, and as a family we have to work together.
And remember, God's Word has quite a bit to say about how we talk with others - and this most certainly applies to our grandchildren/children.
  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. - Proverbs 15:1
  • Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. - Ephesisans 4:29
  • Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. - 1 John 4:11
  • It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. - Luke 17:2
  • Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. - James 1:1
  • Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. - Proverbs 17:27
These are just a few verses, but it is crystal clear God does NOT want us to yell at children. He gave us the grandchildren we have for us to love them and show His love to them. God offers them, and us, His love and grace and we need to be grandparents who do the same thing - this means we do NOT yell.

Remember, if we yell, we will end up paying a very high price. We will not win the "race" . . . for us it is not the Iditarod, it is something far, far more important. We want our grandchildren/children to grow up knowing they have value, they matter and they are loved by us, and by God. Do NOT yell.

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