Breaking the cycle of yelling

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Breaking the cycle of yelling

It's very interesting how many parents will say to me, "My parents yelled at me and I swore I would never yell at my kids." And yet we repeat the same pattern over and over again; it's what I call a negative script. And sometimes, even though we know it's wrong, it's not as easy to change as we would like. The first thing, actually, is to just recognize we're doing it. Some people don't even recognize they're repeating some of the same behavior. The next thing is you have to start thinking about what are other options I have instead of yelling or whatever the behavior may be. And I've often said we are the authors of our own lives, and think of our lives as scripts; we all have scripts. And if you're the author, what would you like to say and do instead of yelling? And some parents will say, "I'm not certain yet," but they can start to consider it. And one mother who was yelling at her daughter a lot and telling her daughter to go to time-out realized that it was making things worse. And what the mother did is she changed the script and when she got angry with her daughter one day, what she said to her daughter is, "When we get like this, it's not very helpful," and the mother took a time-out, and the mother went into her room. And it was really funny because after a minute the girl knocked on the door and said, "What are you doing?" and the mother said, "I'm taking a time-out so I can relax." And the girl actually said, "Can I join you?" Now it's not always going to work like that, but so you have to be aware that you're following the script by recognizing you have the power to start with different scripts and using your scripts. This may mean getting assistance from a counselor or someone, but it's very important that you do so. And I am a firm believer that everyone can be the author of their own life.

View Robert Brooks, PhD's video on Breaking the cycle of yelling...


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Robert Brooks, PhD

Therapist & Author

Dr. Robert Brooks is a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.  He has lectured nationally and internationally and written extensively about the themes of resilience, parenting, family relationships, school climate, and balancing our personal and professional lives. He is the author or co-author of 15 books and has also appeared in several videos pertaining to helping children to become more responsible, self-disciplined, hopeful, and resilient.

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