Parents!Remove Screaming…Insert Pleasant!

by denny hagel on January 24, 2011


There's a lot of talk in the parenting community these days about parents who scream or yell at their children. In fact, right now the best-selling parenting book on Amazon is "Scream Free Parenting" by Hal Runkel. Of course we all acknowledge the inappropriateness and subsequent harm screaming does to children, but what about the simple unpleasant attitude that many parents have when they speak to their children in everyday situations.

"Mom, can I have a cookie?""No, I am not cooking dinner because I have nothing better to do…you will spoil your appetite!" Have you ever looked at a child's expression when he gets a response like that? He looks defeated. He feels exactly the way the comment was meant to make him feel…stupid and selfish.

And yet these same parents truly do love their children deeply. They put an enormous amount of energy every day into the well-being of their children. Many work two jobs just to provide the basic necessities. So, why then are they quick to snap at them in a simple conversation?

I was at a friend's house one day when her 10 yr old daughter asked her mother why she thought the terrorists attacked the Trade Center in New York. Her mother replied in a very sarcastic tone, "Because they are terrorists and that's what terrorists do!" I know if I had asked my friend the same question we would have had an in-depth conversation that involved sharing views and opinions, and yet she dismissed her daughter as if she had asked if she wanted two heads instead of one!

So, my question to you is this…why do some parents take the role of being a parent as a license to speak to their children in a disrespectful manner, using a tone of sheer annoyance that makes their children feel nothing but negativity?

Sure, parents are overworked, stressed and frustrated. Being a grandparent raising my two grandchildren, ages 14 & 15, I know how long the days can sometimes seem. But if the stress is manageable in order to speak civilly and pleasantly to others, can't the same effort be put forth when speaking to our children?

How do you speak to your friends and colleagues? When they ask you a question do you respond with a snippy short answer…questioning why they are asking you what they just asked you or do you pleasantly respond giving them the best answer you have?

Children learn from what they see their parents do. Long gone are the days of "Do as I say, not as I do!" and "Because I am an adult and you are a child!"

The words and manner in which parents choose to speak to their children will be the words and manner their children will one day speak back to them.

Don't your children deserve the same courtesy and respect that your friends and colleagues do?


Denny Hagel is a child advocate and parenting coaching, devoting over 25 years to the success and well being of all children. She is the published author of over 150 articles on parenting, several of which have attracted international attention.

Denny was blessed with forward thinking parents who raised her to live according to the principles of the law of attraction long before it became a household term. Subsequently she has purposefully studied and practiced the law of attraction for over fifteen years. Her formal education was in early childhood education, psychology, and substance abuse.

She is the founder of Awakened Parenting LLC, and created the Face Book group "Awakened Parenting Discussion Forum". She does on line coaching with parents and teachers who consult her on a regular basis. Denny collaborates with counselors, authors, coaches and others working with parenting and the law of attraction.

Denny Hagel is the author of "Mini-Me Syndrome", "The Missing Secret To Parenting", “Parenting Using the Law of Attraction” and Becoming an Awakened Parent".

  • Susan McKenzie

    Denny, I love to be around families who respect each other… it’s beautiful to just be in their presence. Conversely, when there is disrespect and rudeness I just cringe… If more parents become aware of the power they have to change their environment by changing the way they think, speak, and act I believe it would become contagious and change the world. Your article encourages me to really take stock of my own responses inside of my family circle! Thank you :)

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  • Anonymous

    You and I are so much on the same page Susan…world change begins at the heart of the family! I share your view that what begins in our homes will “spread” throughout society, here and throughout the world. That is what is at the core of my passion…reaching one parent, one child at a time. Thank you for your continued support! Blessings~


    Great post Denny! Screaming is like a fever, it is caught and spread. Parents, should work on their tone or it will be caught by their kids, used w/ siblings and peers and will become a staple of their own parenting! Great post!!

  • Amity Hook-Sopko

    In the crowded grocery store this weekend, I heard a dad whine at his preteen daughter, “Will ya stop stepping on my heels already? Give me some room already!” I just cringed – partly because I felt sorry for the girl, and partly because I’m sure that’s how I sound when I whine or complain at my kids.

    Thanks for bringing this issue into the light, Denny. Your perspective is always so real and so balanced.

  • Victoria Gazeley

    This is so important. Kim John Payne has a nice little technique that I’m trying to use before opening my mouth (on those frustrating days). I ask myself, of what I’m about to say: is it kind, is it true, is it necessary? Most times, my initial reaction is is none of these things. Thanks for bringing this topic to light, Denny.

  • Carla

    Thanks for another great article full of tips for parents and grandparents, too. As I read your piece today I couldn’t help but think of how I answer my husband at times. Your advice can help even husbands and wives communication. I must admit I’ve been guilty of the “snippy” reply and never thought about it until reading your article today. Thanks for the head on advice to always give our speech seasoned with salt and not “hot sauce”.

  • Carol Giambri

    Loved this post. I never was a control freak or yelled at my kids, but sadly I see one child who turned out to be that way. My granddaughter is 5 still, but I’m sure with her sharp memory she will see the “get to your room” too often and stupidly in my opinion. It was very hard to see and daughter thought it was her child as if she was the only one with a child in this world. Great post. I’m sure it will help many.

  • Claudia Looi

    Great content. I remember when my children were younger, I did a lot of that because I had issues with myself. Thank God, I got dealt with and now I am a better parent. Thanks for sharing.

  • Angelabrooks

    Denny – *head down* I am guilty for being a yelling mom some days and yes I blame it on being tired. However that is a poor excuse because I would not speak that way to someone out in public. This weekend we made extra effort to take advantage of the cold weather and had a movie night. We laughed and talked about the movie as it played out. Kids ask lots of questions and they only want a simple answer most of the time. Thank you for being a reminder that how we speak to our children matters.
    My kids are the moon and stars to me and they deserve the respect that the moon and stars get. Zoot to you Denny for being the kids advocate

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing Angela, your total honesty reflects what a great parent you are…your children are blessed to have you! *High Five* Zoot right back at ya!

  • Anonymous

    How wonderful that you had the awareness and the determination to be the best you for your children! Thanks for commenting Claudia!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Carol, It is always so difficult to witness something that is potentially harmful to those we love and feel helpless to do anything…I am sorry. Never underestimate the power of “grandma’s”!

  • Anonymous

    You are so right Carla! It applies to all those we love…I even received an email today saying people shouldn’t scream at their pets either! Thanks for you insights!

  • Anonymous

    I love it! My mother’s advice was to consciously breathe deeply when you are frustrated…makes you take your mind off of your frustration when you are thinking about whether you are breathing shallow or deeply! I am going to try Kim John Payne’s technique! Thanks for sharing

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing and your kind words Amity!

  • Anonymous

    Exactly! Our children are our mirror! Thanks for commenting!

  • Rachelle


  • Debbie Pokornik

    Great article Denny! I have wondered about this for a long time and while I totally appreciate how frustrated and/or stressed we sometimes feel as parents, treating our kids in this way seems very counter-productive.

    I think some of this behaviour comes from being tasked with such an important job (raising our future generation) and not really getting clear support on how to do this. Parents are told not to punish, yet aside from a few fantastic support people :) are not given ideas for how to raise their kids without these kinds of tools.

    I’m offering two free teleseminars this week discussing the difference between punishing and using strategies that guide our kids, instill self-discipline, and create strong respectful relationships in the family. Feel free to tune in and share with your followers. I believe it aligns nicely with what you share already.

    Keep up the great work – our future generations can only benefit from people like you being around 😉

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts…all of which I agree with! Your teleseminars sound wonderful! Thank you!

  • mary b.

    I know several moms who try valiantly to maintain their ‘in-door’ voice while tending to day-to-day situations. I was a ‘talker’, every time, because I would try to cover all the possible ‘bases’ so that MY kids wouldn’t become the rowdies. HA! There is such a thing as too much information at one time….children will absorb what makes sense to them, and look sidewise at their brother or sister to see if they got the rest of all that…what mom said. LOL. I just had to inject some levity Denny, this hits so close to home.

  • Anonymous

    Always love your insights and comments Mary!

  • Susan McKenzie

    It’s so good to be on the same page with you, Denny! I really believe the family is the backbone of society, and my own failures (as hard as I have tried to be a good parent) only serve to fuel the fire for a real change, at the foundational level – which is the family! I love what you are doing and the message you are promoting!

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  • Pat Moon

    Denny, there is so… much wisdom in this article.  Our children are all adults but we all can be observant as to how we respond to those closest to us.  Thanks for this reminder.

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