We all get frustrated with our kids; for the things they break and the noise they make. That still doesn’t mean we get to yell at them. If we feel it coming on, its always best to count to 5 (or 20 if you need to) and then talk to them in a firm and quiet voice. Mellow kids come from mellow parents who don’t make everything an emergency.
However, there is one time when you can, and should, yell at your kids: when they are about to do something that might hurt, or even kill them or others. I’ve done this when my son was about to put his finger into the stove and many, many times when both kids threatened to run out in the street. The one that happened recently was finding my son perched on the couch leaning out an open third story window to yell at one of his little buddies. My mind projected into the future as his 7 year old grip slipped, he fell forward and tumbled out the window to the pavement below. I screamed at him to get down and scared the bejesus out of him. Once the danger was gone, I calmed down and instead of spanking him, held him close to me and told him how much I loved him and that his safety was the most important thing to me. I wanted to make sure he knew that I yelled only because I love him so much that a dangerous situation provoked a reaction that he rarely sees in his father.
Why is that important? I think my son knows that mostly broken objects and loud noises upset me less than they annoy me. Annoyance is a trifle. It doesn’t mean anything that can’t be fixed and then forgotten. He definitely knows that if I yell then he better react. He’s heard it so seldom that I bet he associates it with real danger. And ultimately, I want him to remember a childhood where we seldom raised our voices, except to express how strongly we felt about those closest to us.