I was recently reminded that it's not our yelling that makes our kids listen to us. Rather, it's the action that follows our yelling that compels our little ones to take notice. Yet, most of us, from time to time, catch ourselves yelling at our kids. Why?
The yelling threshold is usually something I arrive at after telling my child several times to do something, and yet my child fails to respond. It's at that moment of repeated defiance that I find my anger level rising, and my voice steadily begins to climb in volume. Unfortunately, my anger as a parent does little to nothing to produce good behavior in my children. Rather, my children begin to listen because they know at this point action will likely follow. Any anger and yelling on my part only adds to increasing my blood pressure and sets a poor example for my kids.
God’s word tells us, "…the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." (James 1:20). Without question, I believe there is a direct application of this verse as it applies to parenting. My anger, that is often accompanied by a louder voice, does not compel or result in better behavior being displayed by my son or daughter. If anything, I'm only training my kids to respond with anger when they don't get their way. That hurts just thinking about it. In my zeal and desire to see my children do things well for the Lord, I'm actually teaching them, by example, to do something I should not be doing.
Looking at that passage from James, God wants us to be slow to anger and to be doers of His Word. This is the example I want to be setting for my children, especially when they are not listening or being disobedient. It’s at that moment of willful disobedience, I want to help them realize their act of defiance is first and most a sin before God. As with any sin, it first goes vertical against God and then horizontal against others.
So the next time my child acts up or fails to listen, I need to respond in a way that turns his or her heart toward God. I also want to connect his behavior with pre-defined consequences. The more prepared I am reduces the risk that I’ll resort to an emotional plea that exudes anger and yelling. This also communicates love and respect to my children, something every child needs from his or her parents.
Here's a classic video clip from Dr. Dobson that touches upon this subject and a great reminder to all of us that, as parents, we must teach our children that behavior always yields consequences—both good and bad.