My older boy was shouting to stop his younger brother from destroying his block tower. The younger one shouted back as he wanted some blocks too. As I stepped in to intervene, asking both to stop shouting and instead negotiate nicely, my eldest promptly replied that I always shouted when I wanted him to stop. I was rendered speechless at his matter-of-fact retort.
An alarming realization dawned upon me — everyone in my house speaks at a louder volume than normal. From my husband to myself and from my kindergartener to my toddler son, everyone shouts — a lot and all the time.
I don't know how it started or when it started. What I do know is I have begun to see how unpleasant as well as unhealthy it is. I was a bad role model to my sponge-like children who were absorbing everything they heard and saw, which in this instant was me shouting always.
The thing with shouting is that if we keep finding a reason for it we won’t have enough motivation to stop. Here are 3 myths of shouting I became aware of that helped inch me closer towards my goal to stop shouting.
Myth #1 — Shouting gives us control
I find myself being louder than usual when I want to assume control of a situation. I begin shouting as things get out of hand so others will start doing things how I want them to be done. That way, I'm back to being in control of the situation.
However, contrary to being in control, shouting shows that we have lost control. Shouting reflects our inability to keep a level head and communicate properly as we fail to control our emotions in adversity.
Instead of raising our voice when things go awry, keeping our cool and talking things through with those involved is the true way to be in control both of ourselves and the situation.
Myth #2 — Shouting gets things done
Shouting at my kindergartener seems to get things done faster than when I ask nicely and politely. I would start requesting sweetly with a please and thank you before it turns into a direct command in a normal voice. When all these fall on deaf ears, only the booming imperative works in catching my son's attention and sends him rushing to do my command.
While shouting perhaps gets things done in the moment, it teaches one to only react to shouting and otherwise not get things done without a raised voice.
Instead of taking a shortcut by shouting, we could consider investing more time in getting things done in the present as it will bear a bountiful harvest in the future. We can avoid shouting by working at cultivating an independent habit now so one will get things done by oneself in the long run, which is much more beneficial to all parties involved.
Myth #3 — Shouting makes us heard
It sounds logical that if we want to be heard, we need to be loud. For example, if we're whispering or mumbling softly, we won't be heard. While this is true to a certain extent, — a substantial volume is required for us to be heard — it doesn't mean the louder the better.
Often, I find myself shouting from a distance, like from the kitchen when cooking as I try to remotely get my sons ready for the meal, but to no avail. Technically, if we’re too far that we need to shout, then we are too far to be heard anyway.
As such, when we surpass the needed volume to be heard while speaking, our shouting becomes unwarranted. The shouting is hence regarded negatively by the recipient, resulting in the brain creating a barrier to block out the intended message. Instead of being heard, the opposite happens.
The solution lies not in raising our voice to be heard from afar, but in reducing the distance. Perhaps all we need for us to be heard is not increasing our volume but simply to have a face-to-face conversation at eye level.
A reason for shouting
Does all these mean there's no reason to shout? In a way, yes — there's no reason to shout, as in raise our voice to be in control, to get things done or to be heard — since shouting doesn't accomplish any of these; we should think twice before shouting.
However, what we could channel our voice to is to shout for joy. If there's any reason for shouting, let it be to rejoice in the Lord, to rejoice in others and to rejoice in ourselves. Now that's shouting I would love to get accustomed to for a lifetime!
Esther Koh is a stay-at-home mum living in Wellington with her husband and two sons. She loves people and has a passion for helping others find their purpose for living.
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