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Why yelling doesn't work as discipline, and what parents should try instead

Posted at 1:54 PM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-23 15:54:12-04

Jessie Shepherd, LCMHC, says yelling is the least effective form of communication, and it just doesn't work for discipline.

She says there are actual consequences of yelling which include a reduction in brain function.

She explains that when we're being yelled at we enter "Flight or Fight" mode. Human brains cannot learn in this mode. It is simply about survival. If you are being yelled at frequently, you are more prone to this mode and have a difficult time in other areas like school or work, even when not being directly yelled at.

Jessie says if you don't want your kids to yell back, you need to model the type of behavior you are looking for.

She adds that if you are frequently told how wrong or "bad" you are, you will start to believe it. Every negative interaction should have four positive interactions to combat the damage the negative interaction has on the relationship.

She shared some tips for what to do instead of yelling:

1. Know what you would like to see happen and why
2. Make a plan
- Cope in the moment: deep breathing, step away, physical exertion (push ups, jumping jacks), and say as little as possible until you calm down
- Be clear about the behavior and what will happen if they continue the behavior (if...then…)
3. Move forward, but check in.
4. Always follow through. Be reliable and consistent.

You can learn more from Jessie by visiting