'I had chest pains from shouting': Why this mum wants parents to stop yelling

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·5-min read
Yasmin has learned to use different strategies with her daughter (Collect)

Hurrying her daughter out of the door on the school run, Yasmin Shaheen-Zaffar could feel her frustration growing. Like most six-year-olds, little Vanessa* was easily distracted and not paying attention to her mother.

‘Like many parents, I’d find the mornings very stressful and sometimes, after the fourth time of telling her to get her coat on, I would snap and start yelling at her,’ says Yasmin.

"I could go from zero to rage in seconds and I’m really not proud of that. Her little face would look so scared.

"There were times when I was shouting at her that she would run and hide under the bed. I feel very guilty about that now."

Today 50-year-old Yasmin says she and her daughter, now 17, get on brilliantly. But those early memories that haunt her are one of the reasons why she has set up a new campaign to stop people raising their voices in anger.

Called Let’s Stop Shouting, it aims to promote non-aggressive communication.

"Someone who is aggressively shouted at a lot can not only suffer mentally but also physically too," says Yasmin.

"Studies show that they can be more vulnerable to things like heart disease and diabetes. People seem so angry at the moment – with everything from Brexit to the pandemic – and it’s in all our interests to learn how to communicate with each other and be respectful of people’s opinions, even if we disagree with them."

"We can learn to communicate without shouting" says Yasmin. (Collect)

Yasmin’s own anger issues, she believes, stem from her childhood. She grew up in the West Midlands with her parents and younger sister and says she was a sensitive child, always afraid of being in trouble.

"I always seemed to be aware of people shouting, whether it was in my family or at school and it really had a negative impact on me," she says.

"I went to a very strict Catholic school where the nuns would always be shouting. There would be a lot of beatings, people would be punished with plimsolls on their backsides and even in primary school you’d get blackboard rubbers thrown at you in class if you misbehaved.

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"I also went to the Mosque, and was whacked frequently. It’s the sort of thing that wouldn’t be tolerated now but back in the Seventies, it was accepted and it could be terrifying at times.

"It’s only in the last three years that I’ve been diagnosed as dyslexic and dyspraxic, meaning I could be terribly clumsy at times. I would be so scared if people shouted at me.

"There was one occasion when I was about six years old when a school mother thought I’d been teasing her daughter, and she tore into me at home time. I was so scared that I wet myself and never told anyone, I was so frightened."

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The mum is determined to help other parents cope without losing their temper. (Collect)

Her nervousness continued into her teens and even as a young adult, she says that life scared her.

"I was incredibly shy as a teenager and was even scared to do things like go into McDonalds," she says. "If shop assistants approached me, I’d run off."

It was when she’d had her daughter in her early thirties that she realised that history was beginning to repeat itself and she was determined not to be a shouter.

"It was a real turning point for me because I saw that I kept losing my temper with my little girl and I didn’t want her to grow up like I had, always scared and nervous," says Yasmin.

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"Also, I was getting chest pains after shouting. I was a single mother so I’d be under a lot of pressure but that’s no excuse. I’d go from being calm to really angry in seconds.

"It made me really ashamed to think of that now. When children are small especially, they need to know that you – their parent – is their ‘safe place'."

It was after the suicide of a close friend that Yasmin chose to seek help. She underwent counselling and then decided to become a psychotherapist and counsellor herself.

"Children need to know that you are their 'safe place'" says Yasmin. (Collect)

"It’s been an emotional journey. I can still slip up - that’s human, but I’ve discovered strategies to manage my anger and shouting and these are strategies that can easily be taught to others – choosing the right time and place for difficult conversations, being more organised with time and staying self-aware enough to step away from a conversation if you feel yourself or the other person heating up."

The reaction to her campaign has been very positive so far and Yasmin is looking for funding to expand across the UK.

"Around 50 counsellors were involved but we’d love to be able to train up to 600 counsellors and bring in a Let’s Stop Shouting programme in schools," she says.

"I really want to do this as part of my contribution to society – to make people stop shouting, start listening and being more respectful."

Read more: letsstopshouting.com

*Name changed

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