Parental Shock Syndrome: This is Why You Are YELLING (Or Is It?)

We all know yelling at our children (or anyone for that matter) is wrong, but sometimes we just can’t help it!

The evidence is in. Research shows that regularly yelling at your children can have a negative impact on their self-esteem, their behaviour and on your relationship with them.

Not to mention the soul-crushing guilt you feel afterwards. If you find yourself yelling regularly, is there anything you can do to stop?

Brain behaviour specialist, Terri Bowman, reckons she knows why you’re yelling. Terri believes your brain is in survival mode, having gone into shock from the demands of having a child, starting from the newborn phase. Being in survival mode leads to intolerance of trivial things – and yelling is the result.

Terri calls this phenomenon “Parental Shock Syndrome”.

Terri’s suggestions for helping your brain get out of survival mode include more sleep, a positive attitude, a support network and being happy.

So is Parental Shock Syndrome real? Or is it just a convenient excuse for losing your cool and raising your voice at the children?

To be honest, I’m not convinced. Sure, there’s been times when I’ve raised my voice because I’m exhausted and stressed. But even when I’m well-rested, feeling happy and have the support I need, there are times when the kids push all my buttons and I feel the temperature rising.

I don’t know about you, but here’s some of the reasons I’ve yelled that I probably can’t use Parental Shock Syndrome as an excuse for:

Getting my kids ready in the morning

could you have parental shock syndrome

Look familiar?

Talking to my kids can be like talking to a brick wall (or a volleyball!). I try my hardest to be patient, I try to make sure we’ve allowed enough time to get out of house, but lord have mercy on me, sometimes they push me over the edge with their procrastination. Just put your shoes on already!

Deliberately doing shit I’ve just told them not to do

This one’s a doozy. I’m sure you’ve seen it before. Kid is doing something they shouldn’t be doing. You calmly ask them to stop, and attempt to redirect them to a more appropriate activity. Kid looks you square in the eye and does the wrong thing anyway. Cue steam coming out of my ears!

Sensory overload

“For the love of God, child! Get out of my face!” If you live near me, you may have heard me say this one or two times. I really like my personal space and have sensory issues – neither of these things is conducive to being a parent of small children.

Scaring the bejesus out of me

Running out on the road, attempting to climb over the retaining wall, rifling through the knife drawer, deliberately undoing their seatbelts on the freeway…all these things have made me yell. I know, I’m sorry kids, I didn’t mean to scare you, but you just about gave me a heart attack!

I’d like to think that getting some more sleep and having a positive attitude would be enough to make sure I never yelled again – but I just don’t think it’s that simple.

The reasons why we yell are complicated and nuanced, and often different for each person. Certain behaviours in our children trigger feelings from deep inside us, which can cause us to yell irrationally. We get caught up in trying so hard to raise good kids, that when they behave like kids do sometimes, we feel like we’re failing and all hope is lost. We feel the need to control situations, and we enter into power struggles with our kids, which we can never win.

If you feel concerned about how much you yell at your kids, just know that you’re not alone, and by admitting that it’s a problem, you’re well on your way to living a life where you yell less.

Parental Shock Syndrome?

Well you decide … but always remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so look after yourself first and foremost.

Avatar of Alison Boston

Alison is a freelance writer and communication strategist whose experience as a mother to her six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter inspires her to share stories with other parents, to hopefully help everyone make it out the other side with their sanity intact! Alison lives in Sydney with her husband and kids in a half-finished dream house she hopes will be completed before the kids move out, and spends her spare time scouring Pinterest for design ideas, searching Gumtree for second-hand furniture and sweeping the never ending dust off the floor.

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