WHEN a four-year-old boy stepped into his mother’s kitchen not long ago, a small pail slipped from his hand. Sand spilled onto the newly scrubbed floor. Angered, the mother screamed and struck her son, sending him sprawling on the floor. After more screaming, the mother stormed from the kitchen, leaving the child still on the floor.
Have you ever seen anything like that happen? Has it happened in your home?
Screaming a family problem
Screaming is frequent in many families today. Not only do parents scream at their children, but often marriage mates shout abuse at each other. Why?
Some persons may feel it is normal. Their parents screamed at each other. Their acquaintances do it. Also, they may have heard that it is harmful to bottle up emotions. So they feel justified in screaming when they are angry.
Women often scream when they feel under pressure. It may be that the children are sick and irritable. Perhaps the mother herself does not feel well. Preparation of supper may have been interrupted. Just about everything may seem to have gone wrong, and she feels at her wit’s end. Under such circumstances, it is little wonder that she feels like screaming.
Men, too, are under pressure more and more. Often there are financial worries. A father may face the loss of his job. His nerves may be worn to a frazzle. Then even the slightest irritation, such as noisy children, may make him feel like exploding verbally.
Bad effects of screaming
Is such a verbal outburst beneficial? On the contrary, it can be damaging in many ways to oneself, as well as to those screamed at. Consider what happens to a person physically when he gives way to angry screaming.
Blood pressure rises. Circulation is adversely affected. Digestion is interfered with. Undue strain is put on the body’s defense system. Thus, such serious conditions as strokes or heart attacks may result. Angry verbal outbursts can actually shorten one’s life-span!
And what about the effect on others—for example, a marriage mate who is screamed at? Will this cause that one to want to be with the mate? Will that one be eager to see the mate in the evening and hold the mate in his arms?
Regarding the effect on a child frequently screamed at, one New York doctor observed: “The child is certainly harmed emotionally. He frequently feels alienated from his parents. He often becomes withdrawn. And he may engage in abnormal, even delinquent behavior.”
Is screaming worth such possible physical and emotional effects? Does it improve the situation at hand? Will the child screamed at be more inclined to view you with respect and love? Or will he feel uncomfortable in your presence and avoid you?
Does this mean that there is never a time to raise one’s voice? Parents at times need to be firm with their children, and a somewhat enlarged voice may emphasize one’s point. But this does not call for an uncontrolled verbal outburst or explosion.
“But what,” you may ask, “can be done when I am at my wit’s end, and screaming and abusive words seem to leap from my lips?”
What to do when you feel like screaming
Drug companies advertise that that is the time to reach for one of their sedatives. But resorting to drugs provides no lasting remedy. Rather, it can create even worse problems.
Another bit of common advice when you feel like screaming is ‘to count to ten.’ The idea is that this will provide time for you to simmer down and hold back angry words. This may help.
Other practical measures when you feel like screaming may be to get away from the trouble or problem if possible. Go for a walk. Listen to soothing music.
But is screaming ever justified? Yes, it is. For example, when your life is threatened or when trying to ward off an attacker.
As for other circumstances, if you feel like screaming, stop and consider its effects. Do you want to hurt yourself physically, alienate other persons, and adversely affect your relationship with others?
Work hard to be kind, forgiving and tenderly compassionate. With the help of such qualities, you will be able to refrain when you feel like screaming.