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Dr. Helen

The above quote is by “annonymous” and I read it in a memoirs book recently. I thought about the quote as I read this article from the WSJ entitled “Study Says Yelling Is As Hurtful as Hitting”:

Parents who yell at their adolescent children for misbehaving can cause some of the same problems as hitting them would, including increased risk of depression and aggressive behavior, according to a new study.

A good, warm relationship with Mom and Dad doesn’t protect teens from the negative effects of parents’ yelling, cursing or lobbing insults, such as calling teens “lazy” or “stupid,” the study found. Conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan, the study was published Wednesday on the journal Child Development’s website.

While spanking has become taboo in many U.S. communities, yelling doesn’t have nearly the same social stigma. Indeed, parents sometimes think yelling will make their charges listen and behave. But the study found the opposite to be true.

As some of the commenters to the article point out, often researchers don’t seem to distinguish between yelling insults (this is not generally effective) and raising one’s voice harshly to make a point. It seems that “experts” lean more and more towards studies showing that no discipline works except something like “time-out” or taking away privileges. Pretty soon, all discipline will be said to be “useless.” Without discipline, kids have no guide as to what is right or wrong, or how to solve a problem, or stay out of trouble. Some kids need a firm hand, others not as much but to say that certain types of discipline are always wrong because they are disagreeable to a bunch of “experts” is harmful. But as long as the researchers feel good about themselves and the state agrees, they will continue to chip away at parental control.

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All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
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There ain't nothing wrong with raising your voice to let them know A)you mean business or B)you are upset with them/they are in trouble. Also a well timed spanking never hurt a kid. "Experts" be damned.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm reading Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys and it was pretty good but it seems to be infiltrated with feminist thinking (have you read it?). There's a section against spanking (I have three boys and a daughter - and my two under 8 years old - I still spank) and the concern is that people spank in rage (which is the concern with yelling as well) but I think it's a healthy part of discipline but I guess "experts" disagree
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How long until raising your voice to your child is considered abuse and will involve child services? Glad I'm a man on strike, unmarried, and childless in this Brave New World.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The "Experts" are not expert at anything other than leftwing cant and the BS artistry that goes along with a Sociology degree.

They don't like discipline because they didn't like it when they were kids and they suffer from arrested development, as well as a raft of childhood issues they should be addressing for themselves, rather than inflicting their worthless opinions on the rest of society.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I particularly liked the comment by GawainsGhost – thank you. It brought back memories of my childhood in California. I came from a spanking family, but it always seemed to me that smacking was the preferred form of discipline among the parents of my friends. Spanking and smacking were forms of discipline I routinely witnessed. Both techniques were highly effective and never seemed abusive to me.

I would like to make two brief additional comments.

First, human beings are imperfect. Parents often administer discipline at moments of extreme pique. Sometimes such discipline exceeds what is appropriate. We, parents, are not alone. Judges, juries, school administrators and others charged with administering justice routinely overreact in the line of their duties too. To describe such excesses by parents as abusive unfairly holds parents to a unique standard – when a judge has a case remanded for resentencing because the original sentence is deemed excessive by a higher court, the judge isn’t considered an abuser and criminal sanctions for the judge are never in the mix. Abusive parenting is an extreme breach of societal norms, and nothing less.

Second, I think “time-outs” are abusive. Time outs have negative psychological aspects that are associated with shunning and solitary confinement. To a child, time-outs communicate that their parents’ love is not unconditional, but instead, is only granted to a child who follows the rules. Is that really the message a loving parent wants to convey to a child? Does such a message make our children more confident adults or more effective citizens? When a religious cult engages in an incident of shunning that makes the news, it is generally greeted with public outrage. Then why is such behavior deemed appropriate in the context of the parent-child relationship? In my role as a parent, I have refused to engage in administering time outs as an act of moral principle.

Now you know what a crank I am.

Thanks, Dr. Helen, for the great blog.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agree that time outs are a terrible idea and never used them as discipline. I also never, ever hit my kids. What I did for discipline was to assign hard labor, or depending in the age and the infraction, sentences or essays. Believe me, this was considered torture! lol. "Nooooo! Not an essay!" However, they learned the lesson, whatever it was, and I didn't have to shun them or hit them.

Parental discipline should be thoughtful and deliberate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Re: Two threads ago; "Social Sciences". This supports the point that it isn't science and can never be.
The best behavior book I have every read is Proverbs. Give it a try.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We'll see this affect schools most because men aren't going to teach in institutions if they can't discipline out of line students.

Also, you would have GREAT interest in this article from the NYTimes if you haven't already been alerted, as yet it's another reason for men to avoid marriage - http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/07/opinion/alimony-for-your-eggs.html?ref=opinion&_r=1&;. Consider if this passes, it means that even if men see fair laws now, they may not see those fair laws in the future.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I did see that article but thanks for reminding me about it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When I was a little boy I would run over to my grandmother's house, because I had toys to play with over there. Sometimes I would get a little too excited and start running around, jumping up and down, squealing, and my grandmother would grab me by the ear, drag me outside and say, "Mow the lawn!"

With a push mower. Most of you probably don't remember those, but they didn't have a motor, just some blades with two wheels and handle bars. Five years old I could barely reach the handles to push the mower around the yard. That was work.

Other times, she would grab me by the ear, drag me outside and make me run around the house until I was exhausted.

She was also very prominent in San Antonio circles. An award winning gardener, she did the landscaping for beatification projects on community properties all around the city. So there were often prominent people, city council members and chamber of commerce members, who would come to visit with her. When they came over, I was expected to stand up straight and address them formal, as in sir or ma'am. If I did not, she would smack me upside the head and say, "Manners!" She was strict. She earned her master's degree in the 1920s and worked as a school teacher for several decades.

My father was the same way. He never yelled at me or spanked me or abused me in any way. But whenever I got out of line he would smack me upside the head and say, "What do you think you're doing?"

My mother, on the other hand, would not hesitate to take a belt to my butt. I only got whipped twice while growing up though. Once because I was playing cowboys and indians in the living room, using lit matches as flaming arrows. I burned several holes in the carpet and on the couch. That was stupid, and I deserved that belt.

The other time was when we were playing in the neighbor's yard. Their house was on stilts, and the ball we were kicking around rolled under the house. I crawled under the house to retrieve the ball, and when I crawled out the neighbor girl hit me on the head with a 2x4 and laughed about it.

The next day I was standing on one side of the chain link fence, rubbing the bump on my head, and she was stading on the other side, laughing at me. So I dropped my pants and peed on her. Of course, my mother was watching from the window and she came outside, grabbed me and drug me inside and gave me a whipping I will never forget.

I would do that again, seriously. I mean, almost burning the house down is one thing. I deserved that whipping. But peeing on the neighbor girl because she hit me on the head with a board for no reason and kept laughing about it, that's something else entirely. I took that whipping, but I didn't deserve it. I felt justified.

All through school, in the 60s and the 70s, we were subjected to corporal punishment. If you got out of line in class, the teacher would paddle you in front of the class and send you to the office. There the principal would paddle you and send you home. There your parents would either paddle you again or ground you for a month.

I don't know whether that was abusive or not. That was just the way it was back then. It did work, but it's not allowed anymore.

As far as school goes, I spent 25 years in education. Including student teaching, substitute teaching, full time teaching, and part-time teaching, I've stood in front of a classroom at every grade level from 1st through sophomore college. And I can say with absolute certainty that a teacher is extremely limited, hamstrung in fact, in his or her, particularly his, ability to discipline students.

Yeah, sometimes the kids get out of line, talking, making noise, not paying attention, and a loud "Hey!" or "Pay attention!" or "Enough!" will sometimes calm them down. But that's about all a teacher is allowed to do these days.

Dr. Helen is right. There is a big difference between raising your voice and screaming insults. One sometimes is necessary, the other is clearly abusive.

In her autobiography, which she self-published, my grandmother wrote, "The problem with schools today is that the teachers are afraid of the principals, the principals are afraid of the parents, the parents are afraid of the children, and the children know it."

Truer words have never been written. Children can get away with anything these days, becasue the adults are all afraid of them. So much for discipline.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Disciplining somebody seems very much a "shades of gray" thing. Done properly, it teaches the child that there are consequences for antisocial behavior. Done to excess by a primary caregiver, the child, when grown, may move to the other end of the country and never speak to the caregiver again. Done habitually by everybody in the social environment and the result may be the human equivalent of the dog that's been hit too much and won't come near anybody.

I suspect that the trick is for the enforcer to use no more force than necessary and to maintain enough control to recognize how much is enough, probably not an easy thing to do for enforcers who are themselves under enormous stress.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agree that physical abuse, name calling and demeaning have no place in a parent's disciplinary repertoire, but a well timed (and loud) "Knock it off!" can be a very effective tool.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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