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Science says yelling is as bad as hitting. What should parents do instead?

The natural response of a parent after a tiring day is yelling instead of talking. For parents, yelling at kids is the easy way to take control of the situation than responding calmly. Some of us label yelling as disciplining our children, whereas, yelling for some is a weapon to grab their kid’s attention. But as a responsible parent, you must understand the psychological effects of yelling at a child.

Some child behaviour can be enough to provoke your yelling instinct. Unfortunately, your toddler is not capable enough to decode adult frustration. Yelling doesn’t solve anything, neither it solves the problem at hand. Rather, yelling and cursing at a child may trigger psychological effects that can be both long-term and short-term. At some extremes, yelling can change the way how your child’s brain processes, and can lead to serious child psychological issues.

Scientific proof of how yelling at kids is as bad as hitting

According to a study conducted by the Society for Research in Child Development, there are strong links between adolescent depression and parents who yell. The alarming findings of the study were parents who yell at their kids are unable to balance their affection towards their children. Such parents also fail to undo the emotional harm that they have caused by yelling.

What happens to a child's brain when you yell?

While many parents take yelling as a disciplinary measure, it can cause an adverse long-term effect on your child. Here is what yelling could do to a child.

• Yelling encourages child behavioral problem

Shouting at your child does not facilitate disciplining them rather, it will trigger their willingness to show even worse behaviour in the future. This means that to make your child listen to you, you have to yell a little louder every time and the cycle will continue. However, the effect of yelling at a child is the same, irrespective of who is shouting, the mother or the father. 

• Yelling hampers the brain development in children

shocking study revealed that those who suffer from anxiety of being yelled at, compared to those who have not experienced yelling or verbal abuse in their childhood, have a noticeable physical difference in the parts of their brain that are responsible to process sound and language. So for those parents who have a question in mind that ‘can screaming cause brain damage? The answer is yes!

Childhood verbal abuse also remains with your child when they become adults and they tend to be more vulnerable to behavioural issues.


• Yelling can cause depression in children

Other than feeling scared, hurt, or low, your child can develop serious clinical depression, which can continue even when they turn adults. Angry mother effect on the child, can go beyond your imagination. Your child will also remember the episode of your yelling and tend to reciprocate similar behaviour when adults. Depression can also increase the chance of drug abuse, sexual activity, and self-destructive actions in your child. 



• Yelling causes physical health effects on kids

Parents yelling at each other can be similarly harmful as yelling at kids. A yelling family may nurture a physically weak and unhealthy child. Yelling can cause several health effects in the long run.

• Yelling at kids leads to chronic pain

According to a study, it is seen that kids who have faced verbal or physical abuse during their childhood are more likely to develop chronic pain such as headache, backache, neck problems, and other chronic pain.


Can’t stop yelling? Try positive yelling

Well, can you stop yelling at your child immediately? Most probably the answer is no! So let’s find out the best way to take control of the situation as an authoritative parent. 



• Don’t relate harsh words that leave behind emotional hurt

Most of the time parents combine harsh and rude words while yelling at kids. This creates a deep emotional effect on kids. So, while you yell at your child, make sure not to use any hurtful words or expressions.



• Never use shouting as an attention-grabbing tool

Yelling at children doing homework is most commonly done by parents to grab their attention. This only leads to distracted attention where your child’s brain is shut to all the information you are providing.



• Don’t lecture your child after a yelling

Parents who yell too much also tend to lecture their kids afterward. This takes the yelling effect to the next level. Hence it is better not to revisit the topic once over.



• Decide your audience before you yell

It is indeed important to judge the age and ability of your child to process your yelling. There is no point yelling at a 3-year-old toddler who does not possess the ability to understand what you say. However, when parents yell at each other, this creates a negative impact on the child that remains with them for a lifetime.



• Count how many times you yell in a day

When people point out our mistakes such as yelling, we end up denying the fact. When you keep a check on your daily emotional outburst in writing, then you will be able to judge yourself and reduce the things that can make you a bad parent.



When is yelling at kids acceptable as parents?

There are instances when there is no way out other than yelling at kids. The following instances are completely acceptable. 

  • While saving your child from physical harm- While your child is unknowingly running towards a hot utensil and you yell to stop him, then it is not harmful. You are doing it to grab his attention to stop him from physical harm.
  • To make them aware of the immediate situation- As experienced parents, we are aware of consequences such as what happens when we run in the middle of the road, why playing with scissors is dangerous, etc. So if you find your child on the verge of exploring some of the dreadful events, then yelling is of great help.

Let’s sum it up

Relax and love your child and make them feel every day that they are loved and cared for. This will solve most of your problems as parents. Foresee your child’s future and judge the impact of yelling at kids, and that may change how we see parenting today. 

If you have any suggestions or questions, please write back to me. In case you find this blog helpful, share your thoughts, I would love to hear from you. 

If you still find it difficult to handle your anger with your child, then connect with me for a free consultation.


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