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Stressed about your divorce or custody? Yelling won't help

Parents who are going through a contentious divorce or fighting over custody struggle with intense, painful emotions. They can feel frustrated, helpless, angry, betrayed and scared, and these emotions can be enough to make anyone lose their temper more easily.

However, it is crucial that you take whatever steps you can to control this temper around your kids when it comes to disciplining them. Even if you aren't spanking them, you could still be causing damage if you yell. In fact, as noted in this article in The Wall Street Journal, some studies show that yelling at kids regularly can cause damage to a child's future relationships and sometimes lead to depression.

Yelling can affect kids' confidence, happiness and satisfaction in future relationships, and later showing remorse or apologizing doesn't necessarily erase the damage

This is not to say that parents are expected to always be nice, soothing and calm around their kids. Most parents will raise their voice from time to time. However, yelling as a personal attack or for harsh verbal discipline is what seems to be the most damaging.

In order to avoid this, parents can be on alert for signs of a blowup and use some avoidance tactics to ward off a screaming match. Try to be especially aware if you notice:

  • A tightness in your chest 
  • Rapid breathing
  • Clenching jaw
  • Negative, overwhelming feelings

If you start feeling these things, leave the room, go outside, practice deep breathing or call a friend to vent your frustration. Even yelling into a pillow can be helpful. Once you've had the chance to cool off a little, you can talk to your kids in a more construction, loving way.

Your stress level is already quite high when you are going through a difficult divorce or custody battle, especially if you have just had an upsetting altercation with your ex. However, yelling at your kids will only wind up making you and them feel worse. Remember, too, that the drama with your ex will subside; your impact on and relationship with your child is forever.

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