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A shout-out

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”

There was a time that I almost lost my voice almost completely. I had to reserve what a little vocal power I had left for truly important communications and just bite my tongue for everything else. 

When I started to recover, I was very careful not to shout or raise my voice so as not to strain it. I became volume conscious. It was about that time when my eldest daughter asked me to tutor her math. Usually, my husband teaches her while I handle all other subjects. She said she was very scared he would get mad. When I asked her exactly what she meant by that, she said her dad’s voice becomes louder the more he explains something. I attribute that to him getting excited about math (he is a math geek). Apparently, it was intimidating her in some way.

I understand how she feels, because my father, who is known for his very short temper, used to raise his voice all the time when I was young. Even if it happened everyday, it would upset me each time. He would bark about little things. Even if I was not being accused of anything in particular, just hearing that someone is in a foul mood already put me on edge. It was impossible to have a lighthearted, casual exchange after those outbursts.

This propensity to shout to stress a point, or to convey our anger or frustration to our children is a tactic we should use sparingly, it at all. I understand shock value — I have a child who needs the “bulaga” factor once in a while. However, if we raise our voices too often, and for insignificant things, we are actually just transmitting several negative lessons to our kids. 

The first problem with shouting is we project ourselves as people who are volatile and unable to contain our emotions. If we want our children to exercise self discipline and thoughtful restraint, we should model those behaviors first when we feel the need to vent our anger or rage. Count 1-10 and take a 10 minute break if necessary in order to cool down. Your face can register all the ire you want, but don’t open your mouth until you have composed of your thoughts.

The second problem with shouting is it degrades the person you are talking to. If it is done in front of other people, it is even worse. Losing face or being made “pahiya” in that way saps pride, which doesn’t heal quickly. The “Shut-up!” or “Just get out of my sight!” retorts are so powerful and so hard to take back. 

The third problem is that it ruins the mood of everyone around you, regardless of whether they are involved in your situation. When the atmosphere is charged with negative feelings, it’s very difficult to get an open flow of communication going again. And keeping channels open with our kids is something we should strive to do even when we are extremely exasperated with them. If you are angry with someone else and you vent it out through shouting, your children will be hesitant to approach you for any other matter for fear they will get an earful, too — even if they have done nothing wrong.

Lastly, shouting is just another form of bullying. People shout to make them have a bigger, more intimidating presence and to make the offending party feel smaller. 

With our children, we may think the consequences are negligible, too, but the impact on their psyche is there. Like pride, self-confidence is something that is hard to build and easy to destroy. Tread carefully. *

If we raise our voices too often, we are just transmitting several negative lessons to our kids.

by: Jen Abila


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