Do know how yelling affects ADHD? It probably affects you more than you think. Many ADHD-ers experience getting yelled at; especially during childhood, from siblings, parents, and friends.
If heated arguments, and screaming matches is your go-to problem-solving move, then this may be a result of getting yelled at as a child.
Many people with ADHD seem to be locked in a struggle with self-destructive habits such as; forgetfulness, dealing with authority figures, and carelessness. Even though ADHD is associated with these traits, the problem may lie in how your ADHD was reacted to in the first place.
My childhood was filled with shouting, scolding, and yelling from my mom. But yelling affects ADHD really bad. Bad enough that the online parenting magazine, Today’s Parent says it’s just as bad as spanking. And the Catch-22 is; ADHD kids get yelled at for doing exactly what ADHD is notorious for.
Why is that so? First, we have to understand how the ADHD brain processes emotions.
Emotional hypersensitivity is a core trait of ADHD. Think of ADHD as the great multiplier. If you give rotten lemons, you get a ton of shitty lukewarm lemonade; conversely applied, juicing good lemons will give you an ice-cold pitcher of Michelin-star grade lemonade.
The effects of longterm effects of yelling are:
1. Destroys self-confidence
My mom’s a wonderful person, but she has no filter. She’ll say what she wants, and she’ll say it loudly. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good mix with her fiery temper. Little things set her off, like forgetting to clean the dishes, or misreading instructions for setting up the new TV. Fights with my mom are intense, and real nasty. She resorts to raising her voice a lot of name-calling.
I was called: stupid, lazy, a waste of space, idiot, good-for-nothing, the list goes on. And when you hear that from your mom, especially as a kid, that shit hurts. And the worst part is, when you screw up, you start to believe those things about yourself.
“If you yell at your child, you either create somebody who yells back at you or somebody who is shamed and retreats,” says Megan Leahly, a parenting coach, in an article by the Washington Post. “You’re either growing aggression or growing shame. Those are not characteristics that any parents want in their kids.”
2. Yelling doesn’t teach you how to deal with conflict properly
Yelling is identified as a hostile activity. When we feel as if we’re being attacked, our brain naturally goes on defensive mode.
Harsh verbal discipline lowers receptivity. Think about it. If someone ever shouted at you in an argument, did you actually listen to what they just said?
A study points out that yelling makes children more aggressive, physically and verbally. Even animals interpret yelling as threatening. Loud noises activate fight or flight senses in the brain, making it nearly impossible to properly rationalize a situation.
When my mom and I fought before, we would have screaming matches that were heard from across the Pacific Ocean. During these moments, there comes a point where my brain goes on auto-pilot. I’m not able to control what I say, and how I say it.
Our fights made me afraid to confront people, because I learned to identify conflict as a zero-sum game.
3. The effects of yelling are long-term
Yelling affects ADHD in the long run. In a New York Times article, Dr. Straus, director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire said “Yelling sets the tone for family relationships that carry over for dating relationships where you get a lot of psychological aggression,”.
For the longest time, I had serious anger issues. I used to freak out and have these mad temper tantrums. And it wasn’t even about anything big. I turned from Bruce Banner to the not-so Incredible Hulk over burnt a pieces of toast, or losing a pen for the tenth time. There was a time I threw my friend’s controller on the ground when I lost in FIFA, though to be fair, FIFA is a life or death case. FIFA drives people seriously mad.
I nailed this issue to how I get yelled at by my mom. My brain subconsciously taught itself that tiny mistakes warranted being called useless, stupid, or walloped by a belt.
I learned to lie to get myself out of trouble. Lying became part of my system, and it took a long time for me to flush out. Many friends of mine who have ADHD, had problems with lying as well.
When you treat people harshly for making a mistake, you’re telling them they can’t trust you. Liars are born when people don’t feel accepted, so they create a different story to make it like so. Lying is a coping mechanism, because the alternative of telling the truth seems much worse.
For me, the hardest part of being ADHD was fighting my deeply-rooted anger issues, low self-esteem, and habitual lying. These problems took years to fix, because of how ingrained they were in my system.
So how do we fix our problems? Like right now?
There’s no silver bullet to correcting the various effects of yelling. It’s a long process that requires conscious decision-making and self awareness.
You have to be self-aware. I make it a point to know what triggers me, how much pressure I can handle, and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. Knowing thyself makes it easier to face tough situations, and helps you make better decisions.
The second step was taking myself out of volatile situations. An effect of ADHD is emotional hypersensitivity, so the best way to deal with bad situations, is to simply learn to walk away from them. It’s better to solve a problem with a clear head because, barely anything gets solved when you’re emotionally charged.
I’m also very lucky to have a good support group. I had minimal therapy for my ADHD , and never took medication; but I had people who knew and worked well with my limits. My mom, despite her unfavourable discipling method, took time to try and understand ADHD, my sister and I even suspect she has it too.
The last tip is to forgive. You have to understand that your ADHD might make you do things that might not be received well. Our society’s understanding of mental health is still at it’s infancy. When people don’t understand something, their natural tendency is to lash out at it.
So forgive the people who don’t know how to handle you, and go easy on yourself when your ADHD makes you forget to refill the dog bowl.
ADHD is a life hack, it just needs to be nurtured. When you understand how great your ADHD can be, you can hack your ADHD to success.
Disclaimer: Whether you need medication or not is a case to case basis, and it’s still highly recommended that you consult a medical professional before making any decision.