Is yelling at kids really OK?

Advice

December 03, 2006|By HARRIETTE COLE | HARRIETTE COLE,United Features Syndicate

DEAR HARRIETTE

I love your column and, while I don't always agree with your counsel, I usually think you're on point.

However, I think your advice to Deborah in Chicago, who was scared for a little girl being yelled at, was lacking.

I am a mother of a 2-year-old, and when I chastise my daughter and sometimes raise my voice to her, it doesn't mean I am "strung out by emotion."

Children need to be disciplined when they act up. That discipline ranges from a time-out, to getting a light pop, to getting yelled at. In this day and age, children are so disrespectful and ill-mannered, and it's not because children are different now, it's because parents are so different.

Parents need to stop being friends to their kids and start being parents. Children like to test limits -- it's part of growing up -- and it is the parent's responsibility to lay down the rules.

I go to stores where children are screaming wildly, having tantrums and telling their parents what they are going to do and not going to do.

At restaurants and stores, many of these same parents come up to me and say how lucky I am to have such a well-behaved child. But I am not "lucky," I am simply doing my job.

My daughter is no angel, and she can be a major brat sometimes, but she knows how far to go. Deborah was right to keep quiet, unless she saw some real form of abuse.

And while she feels sorry for the little girl, think about the father who feels like he can't be a parent because of what someone might think or say.

He might have been "strung out by emotion" owing to all the peering eyes.

Yesenia

YESENIA --Points very well taken! To clarify: The situation I addressed did seem extreme, where the father was screaming at his child. I know very well that discipline is essential for children.

I have a 2 1/2 -year-old daughter. I also believe that when parents lose their temper, they lose the power to control the situation. Staying calm and clear works much better than screaming.

DEAR HARRIETTE --I have five children and have found compassion can sometimes go further than dirty looks or scolding words in these situations.

I remember once, a young mother was really losing it and being mean to her two toddlers.

When I passed her in the aisle, I smiled and told her how beautiful her children were. She paused, and a look of pride came over her face. When I next saw her at the checkout, mom and kids were smiling and getting along much better.

We don't always know the pressures or problems parents are facing. While there is never an excuse for abuse, there is always a reason for kindness.

Tiffany

TIFFANY --Great idea. Thanks!

Send questions to askharriette@ askharriette.com

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