Yelling is Getting Me Nowhere

31 May, 2019
Q I'm tired of yelling at my teenaged son. He just ignores me. What else can I do?

Answer

 In this counseling answer:

•It is important that you stop yelling and stay calm, and not react to your son’s moodiness.

• You can help him to be anchored through insisting  that he does chores in the house which is his duty and role in the running of the home, and if you have not done this, well in the long run, it would be wise to make a start now, so that develops a sense of responsibility.

•Maintain eye contact with your son during conversations. Good eye contact allows you to keep focused and involved in the conversation.

•Be interested and attentive. Your son will sense whether you are interested or not by the way you reply or not reply to her.

•Focus on “what” your son is saying and not “how” he is saying it. If he is upset, for example, he may exhibit the kind of body language that may be distracting.

•Listen patiently and avoid getting emotionally involved in the conversation. If you do so, you will tend to hear what you want to hear, as opposed to what is really being said. Your goal is to remain objective and open-minded during your discussions.


As salamu `alaykum,

Of course you are tired of yelling at your son, and your son is more than likely tired of you yelling at him; and the likelihood that he will listen to you if you continue to approach him in this manner is zero.

Try to remember what it was like when you were young. Even though you might not have blatantly ignored your parents, did you listen to everything they asked for? Did you want to be respected as an adult and not treated like a child? Were there are other activities that you wanted to do instead of what your parents wanted to do? Did you feel that your opinion was being ignored or not valued?

Young people today are like young people in any generation, the only difference of today’s youth is that they have more to influence them, more to distract them, more to tell them that they are ready to develop a certain lifestyle (even if they are not), and a more competitive social environment that makes them more bold. Also, there is more confusion around them and less to guide them in the right direction.

Yelling is Getting Me Nowhere - About Islam

On their road to becoming individuals, they are more likely to criticize and challenge their parents, and you as a parent can feel more alienated as they try to lay claim to emotional and physical space away from their parents. Your son is going through a process called ‘Individuation’.


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This is nothing more than trying to loosen those parental bonds to make space for their own sense of self. They will swing from wanting to be like their peers, to seeking the truth of their existence, who they are in this world and questioning if they have what it takes to make it in this world. Caught between childhood and adulthood, they will go through mood swings and suddenly erupt, to wanting to be alone. By resisting these mood swings, you are increasing the pressure and they are more likely to reject anything you have to say.

It is important that you stay calm, and not react to your son’s moodiness. You can still be the mom who is there for him to talk to, but as a friend. Not as the mother who sees her son as being a child, but the mother who is learning to be her son’s trusted friend. You can help him to be anchored through insisting t hat he does chores in the house which is his duty and role in the running of the home, and if you have not done this, well in the long run, it would be wise to make a start now, so that develops a sense of responsibility.

Learn to be there for him through light conversation, and in this way ou can remain in touch with his thoughts, his feelings and what is going on in his life. This means developing the kind of listening skills that shows to him that he does matter and that you are really interested in his feelings, thoughts, opinions and his life. If you:

  1. Make assumptions about my teens feelings and thoughts.
  2. Bring up past issues during current disagreements.
  3. Interrupt your son’s conversation.
  4. Respond to a complaint with a complaint.
  5. Respond to your son with phrases like, “Rubbish.”

Then there is some room for improvement in your listening skills.

“…Each one of you is a shepherd and each one of you is responsible for his flock” (Bukhari  4173, Muslim 1829)

Facilitate taqlid, emulation, for this is where your influence in his life lies.

“A mentor who is a liar, cowardly and dishonest person cannot expect to make his subject a truthful, bold and honest individual. The children don’t pay much heed to the lecturing of the elders. They rather prefer to emulate their actions. It is therefore imperative to promote the habit of emulation in the children. Care has to be exercised to see that the elders perform such actions in the company of children that they grow into ideal individuals. For the love of their children the parents must reform their own habits to provide an ideal image for them. The parents should always bear in their mind that it is very difficult to stop the children from emulating their own habits, good or bad”. – Ibrahim Amini

To improve your listening skills, try the following:

  • Maintain eye contact with your son during conversations. Good eye contact allows you to keep focused and involved in the conversation.
  • Be interested and attentive. Your son will sense whether you are interested or not by the way you reply or not reply to her.
  • Focus on “what” your son is saying and not “how” he is saying it. If he is upset, for example, he may exhibit the kind of body language that may be distracting.
  • Listen patiently and avoid getting emotionally involved in the conversation. If you do so, you will tend to hear what you want to hear, as opposed to what is really being said. Your goal is to remain objective and open-minded during your discussions.
  • Avoid cutting your son off while he is speaking. This will show him that you respect his right to have an opinion, as well as to freely express it.
  • Avoid distractions or trying to multitask during your conversations. This may be okay at work; however your son may perceive that you are not interested at all in what he has to say.


“The upbringing and training of the child is better achieved by setting an example for him rather than through precept. Emulation of the actions of the elders is an automatic phenomenon in the children and they needn’t necessarily be told to perform these actions. If a parent is boorish, impolite and impertinent the child will follow in his footsteps. When a mother is nagging, shrewish and insensible then there is very likelihood of the child copying her”. – Ibrahim Amini

It might seem as though your son is pushing you away, but really he craves attention and consideration. Make sure he gets good healthy meals to eat and does not fall into the bad habit of eating junk food which contains chemicals that can affect his behavior, interfere with his hormonal balanced and decrease the amount of time he spend with his family. You live in a quiet environment, so make the most it and encourage him to release any energy build and/or tension through physical sports like swimming, football etc.


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

Read more:

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Parenting: Not What I thought It Would Be

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About Hwaa Irfan
Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.