Sunday 21 December 2014

Shouting at children 'makes their behaviour worse'

Emma Jane Hade

Published 15/04/2014 | 02:30

Parents need to explain to children why they're angry with them
Parents need to explain to children why they're angry with them

PARENTS who tell their youngsters off without offering any explanation as to why they are angry are more likely to see their child's behaviour deteriorate rather than improve, according to experts.

New research shows that "excessive shouting and severe punishments were counterproductive".

The study by the London School of Economics found parents need to strike a balance between ignoring bold children and over-reacting.

Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, says that the research, based on 19,000 children, has merit.

"Often times, it can seem that all we do is bark orders at children and too much of that is counterproductive for everyone. Honest communication is good for everyone in the family," she explained.

Data gathered for the research was collected from parents just before their child's first birthday, then when they turned three, five and seven.

The researchers found that a mother's parenting-style "influences the mental health of the child" rather than physical well-being.

Ms Heeney believes that many parents get angry with children in the heat of the moment but regret it afterwards.

STRESS

"It's so important to explain to the child why Mam and Dad shouted at that particular time in the day.

"And, how it was because of the stress of the situation rather than the child's fault," she told the Irish Independent.

She gave the example of a child crying at the supermarket checkout for a treat, and rather than giving into the child and purchasing the treat, you should explain to the child why they can't have it.

"We also heard that maybe there is another approach other than ignoring the child. And, that is about taking the time to tell the child her story," she said.

"Helping the child with her story does much more than manage the immediate behaviour – it gives children ways of making sense of themselves and their world. It builds on their strengths and reassures them that you have listened and understood."

She has suggested that parents remind their children what they are good at, as well as mirroring the rules from school in the home in a bid to introduce consistency and clarity in their children's lives.

"Guiding children is a big part of parenting and early childhood education. And, consistency is the critical message we need to remember," Ms Heeny said.

She added: "Of course, every family is different in terms of work, money, health pressures, but all benefit from a little 'thinking time'.

"And time to work out the most important things for that day or week, and perhaps dropping a few things and learning to say 'no' to over scheduling."

Irish Independent

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