Thoughts on, “Why You Should Stop Yelling at Your Kids”

The Firefox blank homepage has this feature called “Recommended by Pocket” that I suppose spies on your surfing habits and suggests articles you should read. I guarantee I don’t look up articles on how to raise kids (I have none), but decided to read an article called “Why You Should Stop Yelling at Your Kids” by Stephen Marche. anyway. It was an interesting article and I decided to share some thoughts on it.

The author cites a peer-reviewed journal article that says yelling at children results in increased level s of anxiety, stress and depression along with an increase in behavioral problems. I didn’t look up how the study was done but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt (assume no confirmation bias, scientific data wizardry, etc) and concur that yelling isn’t exactly the best way to discipline kids.

So far, I’ve agreed with everything the author wrote, but then, he says that yelling, “makes you look weak” and you do it because, “let’s be honest… you are weak.” I don’t think yelling at your kids necessarily makes you look weak nor does it mean you’re weak, it just means that’s the form of discipline you chose to enforce. At this point, some readers might be turned off to the author’s opinion and not read anymore because he essentially said anyone that yells at kids is weak. I kept reading because I’m pretending to write a serious article and needed material.

The preferred method Marche writes about is the ABC method which is promoted by Dr. Kazdin. It stands for antecedents, behaviors and consequences. Here’s how it works (or at least how Marche describes it):

  1. Antecedent: tell the child what you want them to do before you want them to do it. I’ll buy this one.
  2. Behavior: the parent should lead by example. I’ll agree with this one as well.
  3. Consequence: this involves “an over-the top Broadway-style belt-it-to-the-back-row expression of praise with an accompanying physical gesture of approval.” If the time comes, call me a bad parent when I don’t do this.

I do believe in positive reinforcement, but I do not believe in over-the-top positive reinforcement for everything a child does. This is a great way to build a sense of entitlement where a child believes they should be praised for everything they do. Am I going to celebrate the fact that my child washed the dishes? No, I’m going to teach them the value of individual responsibility and sense of duty. I may tell them good job, but I’m not going to make a big deal about it if its not a big deal.

I try to keep my articles short, so I’ll wrap it up with this last thought. The idea that we need to positively enforce every achievement is creating a society where people think they need to be rewarded for simply doing their jobs. I have to listen to people complain all day about how they don’t get promoted even though their only notable achievement is simply doing their job. That paycheck you get every two weeks is the pat on the back you need for doing your job. That promotion? That’s a reward for transcending the basic requirements of your duty.


  1. Nice post Harry.

    Maybe he recommends over-the-top positive reinforcement for something that the kid isn’t used or refused to do and only do that for the first instances until it becomes a habit.
    I would suggest to favor emotional connection when possible. Taking the time with the child when he/she is in a state to be fully receiptive and discuss together why it is important and how it benefits him/her and others.

    Totally agree on people constantly complaining not being promoted without taking any consequent initiatives.

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