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STOP YELLING! To make kids listen, Dr. Phil says, try a whisper

Jan. 30, 2014 at 11:15 AM ET

Video: As a new study reveals that parents admit to yelling at their kids once a month, Dr. Phil McGraw tells TODAY that yelling “stops communication.” His suggestion? “Whisper. They’re very curious,” he said.

Families know: As your frustration with the kids rises, so does the volume inside your home.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal suggests parents, in their quest to avoid spanking, may be yelling more as a way to discipline their children or express their anger.

Three out of four parents yell, scream or shout at their kids about once a month, according to the report. The TODAY anchors noted that doesn't actually seem like that often.

Dr. Phil McGraw admitted he’s familiar with the concept.

“I thought my kids were deaf till they were 5,” he joked on TODAY Thursday. “You just yell out of necessity.”

But the psychologist and host of the popular “Dr. Phil” show said raising your voice to get your children’s attention or get them to change a behavior is often ineffective.

“It stops communication, that’s the problem. As soon as you start yelling, they just kind of go into shutdown (mode),” McGraw noted.

“If a child is having a tantrum, the best thing you can do is whisper because it is so different from what they normally hear. If you get down at their level and whisper, then they kind of have to shut up to hear you. They’re very, very curious.”

TODAY'S Carson Daly noted that when his father raised his voice at him, it didn't mean much, but when he was disappointed, that’s when it really hurt.

Children who are yelled at may be more likely to have behavioral problems, symptoms of depression and less satisfying relationships as adults, according to studies cited by The Wall Street Journal. McGraw wasn’t sure about the extent of the damage.

“Is it going to scar the child? I don’t know,” he said. “I was certainly yelled at.”

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