Why Yelling Doesn’t Work

I love being a Dad.  I really do!  That said, I am not the perfect parent.  I would like to be.  If I am being honest, I would like people to think I am.  I truly desire to be the perfect Dad, but I know that I am not.  There is only one perfect Father and He created us all.  Like everyone else, I get tired.  I get irritated.  I lose my patience.  I react when I should teach.  I punish when I should hug.  I ignore when I should deal, and I end up apologizing to my kids for my reactions far more than I would like to.  All that to say, this post is as much, if not more, for me than for anyone else.  Everywhere I write “you,” I read “I.”

SO, LET’S TALK ABOUT YELLING!  I think most parents yell at their kids – whether they are willing to admit it or not.  I also think that we, as parents, are very good at coming up with reasons and excuses for why we do yell at our kids.  The point of this article is not to discuss whether or not you should yell at your kids or the long-term impact that yelling may have on their lives.  No, this article is address yelling at a much more practical level than that.  My contention here is that we shouldn’t yell at our kids simply because:


Whether you think it’s justified or not – whether that’s the way you were raised or not – regardless of your take on whether it is right or wrong – the fact of the matter is that yelling doesn’t work.  It does not accomplish the goals you are seeking, and for that reason alone you should resolve to stop yelling.  Let’s look at why yelling does not work.

1. Yelling sets the wrong tone for your house.

You, as the parent, should set the tone for your house.  If you have ever watched as your children mimic you, it shouldn’t be any surprise to find out that your yelling will come back to you through your kids.  One of the reasons, likely the principal reason, that your kids are acting out in the first place is because you have set a tone where over-reaction is the norm.  Your yelling actually leads to the behavior that you are yelling in reaction to.  It’s time to stop yelling and change the tone of your house from one of out-of-control yelling to an even tempered atmosphere full of love and encouragement.

2. Yelling gives your child control.

When you yell to get your child to do what you want them to do, you hand over all control of your household to them.  They learn how to push your buttons and get you to react.  They start to control the entire household through their behavior.  In your efforts to regain control of your house by controlling their behavior by being loud, you actually hand control over to them.  It’s time to remember that you are the adult and it’s time to start acting like it.  That means not reacting to a childhood tantrum with an adult tantrum.

3. Yelling is a whole lot more about you than your kids.

Think about all the excuses that you use for yelling at your kids.  They make me angry.  I don’t deserve to be treated that way.  I didn’t raise them like this.  What will people think of me if they see this?  All the common reasons are all about you.  You yell out of selfish motivations.  No matter what you tell yourself, when you yell at your kids, it is never about what is best for them, it is about what allows you to blow off some steam, and it is selfish.

4. Yelling is like throwing gasoline on an open flame.

If you walk into your kitchen and there are flames jumping up from the range, what is your initial reaction?  Would you walk out into the garage and grab the lighter fluid?  Will that make the situation any better?  Likewise, when you walk into a situation where your child is misbehaving and start to yell, you are adding accelerant to an already heated situation.  Take, for example, a situation where your child has reacted negatively to being asked to do a chore.  When you react to that by yelling, you are only copying the child’s behavior and affirming that they have reacted in an appropriate way.  On the other hand, if you react calmly to the situation, you model for your child how someone should react to a situation that they find objectionable.

5. Yelling kills the chance for conversation.

One of our roles as parents is to take advantage of teachable moments to talk to our kids and lead them spiritually.  When we start to yell, we forfeit the chance to have actual meaningful conversations with our kids.

6. Yelling does not teach the heart.

As Christian parents, our goal is to reach our child’s heart.  The external behaviors which they show come from deep within the heart.  As parents, we must show them this and lead them to the Cross of Christ for forgiveness.  Yelling is never about the heart.  It is always about the external behavior.  Even if your yelling doe produce the behavior you desire, you will never produce more than a sophisticated Pharisee by that method – a person more concerned with external appearances than inward heart issues.

7. Yelling does not convey unconditional love.

We are called to love our kids unconditionally.  Most parents would say that they do, but the way we treat them says something entirely different.  When we fall into a pattern of yelling, and our kids come to understand that the way to make it stop is to behave a certain way, they learn that your love is conditional on their behavior.  You will love them, and stop yelling, if they behave the way you want.  A child needs to know that you love them through the good times and the bad times, the good actions and the bad actions, the nice words and the means words.  They need to know that you love them no matter what and you can never love them any more or any less.  This is the way God loves us, and this is the way he wants us to love our kids.

So, next time you are in a situation with your kids where you feel yourself ready to yell, remember that it will not work, and do what you need to do to avoid yelling.  Stop and count to ten.  Remove yourself from the situation.  Pray, pray, and pray some more.  Find a better way.  Cast off what does not work in favor of a Godly model for raising kids!

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is meant to suggest that you should not deal with the errant behavior that your child is displaying is it simply meant to dissuade you from utilizing a technique which does not work and is likely to do more harm than good.  We must desire to deal with our kids in a manner similar to the way our Heavenly Father deals with us.  We must pray for his guidance in doing that and repent when we fall short.  Our children’s behavior is a reflection of what is in their hearts, and as Christian parents, we must care more about their hearts than their behavior because God cares about most about their hearts.  As parents, God has put us in the position of shepherd and steward over our children’s spiritual development, and that is a role we must take very seriously.


  1. This is a punch to the gut for me. I loose my cool much more than I would like to admit. you are right on the money. Yelling does nothing more than make me feel guilty. Great post!

  2. J,

    As I said to my sister-in-law when she commented on this post over on facebook, I find it very easy to write when the target audience is me.

    I have seen first hand that yelling doesn't work, and I have resolved to stop – over and over and over again. Then I stopped resolving and started praying. I still fail, no doubt, but by God's power it is getting better. This was really the first step in that process for me though was the realization, and the reminder, of how futile it really is.

    I thank God every day that he is changing me from the inside out and slowly but surely working in me to transform me into the kind of parent that he wants me to be.

    Thanks for the comment!
    My recent post A Glimpse Into God’s View of Divorce