I am terrified of my parents yelling at me. The night before I couldn’t sleep and I had a panic attack because I was afraid to get my report card. I hate their lectures. I can’t tell them how I feel because they will just yell at me. So I just keep my mouth shut. But I can’t take it. How do I make it stop?
Thank you for reaching out to us. I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through a difficult time. Asking for support is a great place to start and hopefully you can find a solution to your situation that will give you peace and ultimately a better relationship with your parents.
I want to begin by asking you to briefly think about your relationship with your parents.
- What do you want your relationship with your parents to look like?
- What does respect look like to you?
- How can you go about creating this feeling of being respected and respectful?
- What are some things you would like them to change?
- What is within your power to make this relationship better?
It sounds like they have some high expectations about your grades and that you’re afraid that you are not living up to their standards. As a result, big emotions (it sounds like anxiety is present) can affect how much sleep you get and how you respond to your parents. We’ve all experienced anxiety at one time or another, but extreme anxiety (resulting in panic attacks) can negatively impact every area of your life. So let’s first talk about this. Can you think of ways you’ve successfully coped with anxiety in past situations? Are you able to use those tactics again when you’re feeling anxious?
I also wonder if your parents are aware of how their yelling is affecting you. What are some ways that you can communicate with them to help them understand how they are affecting you? You may find it helpful to write out what you want to say so you have a clear idea of what to present when the anxiety seems to be taking over. Perhaps if the anxiety is really intense, you can write them a letter of what you’d like to say and present it to them. Be sure to use lots of “I” statements, for example:
- I feel sad that I’ve disappointed you when my marks aren’t perfect. (Rather than “you always expect me to have perfect grades”).
- I feel very upset when I am yelled at. I feel scared and shaky and it makes me feel afraid to talk to you. (Rather than “You always yell at me”).
People tend to be less defensive and more open-minded when “I statements” are used in difficult conversations.
If your anxiety is severe and affecting your life you may want to see a physician to see if medication will help in the short term.
Moving forward, you can also draw on the support of other people in your life (friends, other family members, a teacher, etc.) and of course, a therapist can help you through this situation. The therapists at Insight would be honoured to work with and support you.