Stop Yelling

Question: why do I get incredibly uncomfortable, to the point of having a strong desire to leave the area, when a parent is yelling or otherwise strongly disciplining their child (“Don’t make me count to three!” and so on)?

Was I not yelled at enough as a kid? Am I just a huge pushover? Do I think on some level that such things should be kept a secret?


8 responses to “Stop Yelling”

  1. Adults very rarely use as much undisguised aggression on each other as we feel free to do when disciplining a child under our care. So it’s natural to feel uncomfortable in such situations. It’s just a shadow of the discomfort we feel when adults actually are that aggressive at each other — i.e. when you see a really earnest verbal or even physical fight go on in a public place.

  2. I think it’s because you hate counting. You’re naturally afraid that if the adult fails, you’ll be asked next.

  3. For me, such situations are uncomfortable if it’s clear to me that the parent has lost his or her temper, which is often the case if the parent is yelling. Obviously, I’ve never had a child of my own, but I’ve been a classroom teacher long enough to know that when I feel that I’m about to lose my temper, the smartest thing I can do is disengage and get the hell out of there before I do or say something I’ll regret.

    The other thing that makes me cringe is when I see a parent giving a firm ultimatum (“if you don’t stop, we’re going straight home right now”), have the kid call them on it, and then the parent isn’t willing to follow through.

    None of this, of course, explains why you feel so uncomfortable when you see it happening. I do know that I always felt incredibly bad when I saw those situations until my brother got married and started having children. At this point, I’ve observed enough public child meltdowns that I’ve gotten used to the experience, which I think just about any parent would say is unfortunate but not out of the ordinary.

  4. I used to hate that sort of thing when it happened at the airport. I can’t imagine why any parent would want to see a whole bunch of strangers see them treat their kid like that. Mostly it was just embarrassing to watch the way some “adults” behaved, and how they took their frustration out on us or their kids.

    Of course, we saw some terribly-behaved kids, too. Airports don’t exactly bring out the best in people.

  5. Does it make you equally uncomfortable if the parent is strongly disciplining the child but being consistent/following through with the threatened consequences as it does if the parent is just yelling?

  6. from sociology class: because a large part of punishment is humiliation, and by standing there you’re hearing it and unwillingly adding to the humiliation, when you may well not agree with what’s being punished.

    from my own experience, maybe you hate yelling.

  7. I’m a “loud talker”, in that I get louder the more excited I am about the topic. In this way I am very much like my father, to my mother’s chagrin.

    I could buy the humiliation angle… but it feels more like guilt for having heard it, though.

  8. I’m sometimes tempted to tell a parent, “Excuse me, but if you are disciplining your child on my account, because you feel that your child’s behavior is causing you to lose face in the eyes of a stranger, you might want to know that all of the losing-face-in-my-eyes that is going on here is coming from you yelling,” or maybe, “If you want to both teach your child and save face, kindness might work better” (to mom) plus “Your mother is right, you know” (to child). But there is a general adage about mother bears, their cubs, and betweenness that ought to be observed.

    What I don’t want is for my exasperation at the parent to contribute, via a sense of losing face, to the parent’s exasperation at the child.

Nurd Up!