A couple of times I encountered situation where people had a following policy

If a parent yells at a kid out of frustration with no meaningful reason (e.g. the kid just got on their nerves but wasn't actually doing something punishment-worthy), that parent MUST shortly apologize to the yelled-at child.

Is that considered to be a good approach? What are the pros and cons?

Please note that the discussion of the concept of yelling at a child in general is out of scope for this question.

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    – user420
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 21:38

5 Answers 5


Kids need to be shown how to apologize and who better to learn than their parents. Consider the alternative: you never apologize to your kids even though there are numerous times where you should have. Yes you will control your kids to an environment where it will be easier for you to live in, kids will fear you, they will perform, but they will not grow healthier in a fear based setting. In the end, they will repeat your same patterns. It takes greater strength to admit fault then to hide weakness.

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    Welcome to the community! Great first post. I hope you're here to stay:)
    – Dariusz
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 9:33

Losing your temper and yelling at a child, whether it was appropriate or not, should always be apologized for. As a parent it's our job to keep our cool and handle whatever our children throw at us. Sometimes that's easier than others; and sometimes we will fail to keep calm. Regardless of what the child did, a parent should apologize for losing his/her cool and remind the child that he/she is loved, even if his/her behavior is unacceptable. This shouldn't lessen the punishment - these are two distinct actions.

This isn't particularly different from other social situations. If you're at work, and someone screws something up such that you have to do extra work, you shouldn't yell at them, right? You should make it clear to them that they made your job harder, and that it is unacceptable performance, but if you lose your temper and yell at them, you're going to apologize for that behavior. You might still fire them, but you still apologize for yelling.

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    I would add that your child will model the behaviors he sees. If you demonstrate that yelling is an okay way to resolve things, he will follow that example. By apologizing, you teach him that it is not as well as teaching him what to do when you make a mistake.
    – MJ6
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 14:05
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    @you clearly never worked in financial industry. Yelling is quite a norm even at best firms
    – user3143
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 14:16
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    Yelling was once the norm for parents, as well. Perhaps there's hope for the financial industry yet.
    – Joe
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 15:34
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    @Joe - looking at modern kids (zero discipline, talking back to teachers, zero work ethic, medals for "participation", overall mememe attitude) I'm somewhat unconvinced that recent trends in parenting are necessarily a GOOD thing in the first place :)
    – user3143
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 13:21
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    @DVK people say things like that - but also, crime rates among teens and young adults are falling and have been for years (US figures, similar trend across west), and while I can't find stats right now, I'm sure I've heard that rates of volunteering, new businesses and patents among young people are increasing in the west. Every generation says its kids are getting worse - I think it's because we adults get grumpier as we get older... (and we forget what we were like!) Commented May 21, 2014 at 17:59

If you are teaching the child to yell when they're frustrated by modeling that behavior, then it's a good idea to teach them more valuable lessons like admitting when they were wrong and making for actions done out of frustration.

The benefit of learning contrition outweighs the loss of a pretense of infallibility that you could attempt to maintain by refusing to apologize.


Children are human. If you yelled at anyone not your own child, would you immediately apologize (once identifying your behavior as ineffective/poor)?

If you would treat anyone else in such a manner, by what rationale would you treat your own child in any lessor of a manner?

We are not Gods, we are Guides. We must lead by example and where we fail, the example ought to be one of properly atoning for our mistakes... and not repeating them. Yelling every hour and immediately apologizing will be as effective as having never apologized. Yelling once and apologizing will leave a positive, permanent impression.

So, in short, my answer is, "Do not fear being perceived as imperfect! Show the strength of your humanity."

Finally, yes, sometimes yelling is necessary and appropriate. When I yell, "Halt!", my daughter knows there's a very good reason and stops immediately -- it's something I do only when there's an imminently dangerous situation to save her from.

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    "Children are human" Exactly. If you wouldn't do it to a fellow adult, you probably should not do it to a child. Same goes for eg. spanking.
    – Konerak
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 7:40
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    I agree. Apologizing to an adult for your mistake does not make you lose authority - on the contrary, it shows maturity. The same holds with a child.
    – ignis
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 9:48

Johnny, I want you to know that Daddy is sorry he raised his voice. Daddy was just very surprised, and people sometimes yell when they are surprised, you see? But you understand that it's not nice to do what you did, right?

(There are reasonable circumstances for raising one's voice, and then there are less than reasonable circumstances, in which it is just bullying of the child.)

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