Yelling at children is a common but harmful practice in parenting that often leads to negative outcomes in children’s development. It is important to note that no culture or society explicitly approves of yelling at children as a parenting practice. Parents can model healthy coping strategies by managing their own emotions and teaching their children alternative ways to deal with frustration and anger. This approach can help children develop important life skills such as self-regulation and problem-solving, which are essential for their overall growth.
Getting to the roots of yelling in parenting
There is a myriad of reasons why parents might get triggered to yell at their children. For example, some parents don’t know how to set personal boundaries with their children. However, setting limits from an early age is crucial for successfully modeling personal boundaries.
Speaking honestly about limits helps guardians detach from feeling responsible for every emotion their child feels. The truth is, to grow into an emotionally stable adults, children need to express their emotions and, therefore, interact with their parents in an honest manner (Lansbury J, 2013).
It seems that some parents expect their children to behave perfectly and meet their high standards throughout the process of growing up. When they don’t, guardians can lose their temper and fall into the vicious circle of yelling. As a result, the child may feel neglected or unloved, leading to further issues within the family dynamics. Consequently, high expectations are not only unrealistic – but also deeply harmful to the parent-child relationship (Successful Homemakers, n.d.).
The impact of yelling on children’s development
A research article published in the Journal of Child Development in 2014, revealed that yelling can lead to outcomes comparable to physical discipline in children. These symptoms include elevated levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and an increase in behavioral issues. Yelling is not only highly ineffective – but also harmful. Families who frequently engage in shouting are likely to raise children with low self-confidence (Marche S, 2018).
While it’s true that yelling can worsen a child’s behavior and consequently create a cycle of misbehavior and withdrawal from parents, boys, and girls experience this phenomenon differently. Boys are more likely to lose self-control, and girls often react with anger or frustration.
These short-term effects can easily escalate and turn into more daring discipline problems if not properly handled. Shouting at children can also change the way their brains are developing, which can cost the child and family other, more serious health problems later in life (Radhakrishnan R, 2021).
Navigating the line between discipline and child abuse
A study in the State of Qatar found that about one-third of parents do not consider yelling as a form of child abuse. In other words, they don’t believe that yelling can affect growth and development. However, around 70% of parents believe that yelling is less harmful than hitting. Despite parents believing they have good knowledge of child abuse and neglect, the study shows deficiencies in parental knowledge. The study shows the need for community health intervention to address parental attitudes and perceptions (Hendaus M et al, 2020).
Likewise, in Chinese culture, parents typically have faith in equipping their children with strong work ethics as a way of preparing them for the future. They tend to be stern and sometimes resort to yelling to discipline their children. Although this controversial parenting style produces varied outcomes, studies have shown that some children experience lower academic achievement and are at a higher risk for emotional problems (Dewar G, 2019).
It is important to note that no culture or society explicitly approves of yelling at children as a parenting practice. While some cultures may have a more authoritarian approach to parenting, which may involve raising one’s voice or using a stern tone, it is not considered an acceptable or positive parenting practice to yell at children in any culture.
Techniques for managing anger and frustration in parenting
If parents give in to yelling every time, the issue becomes more complicated and the feeling of annoyance intensifies. Children can recognize that the person who is shouting has completely lost control. What if, instead, parents would resort to a different response that would teach their kids problem-solving skills?
One of the best techniques is to take a couple of minutes to react before addressing the misbehavior. Although it might feel urgent to deal with the child on the spot, politely letting them know that now is not the time to talk tends to diffuse the tension (Lehman J, n.d.).
Positive reinforcement is known to be one of the most successful techniques that parents ought to use as a preventative measure. In a nutshell, positive reinforcement refers to a strategy that focuses on praising children for their positive behavior. This parenting strategy includes but is not limited to, verbal praise, hugs, and toys. Parents are supposed to point out their child’s positive behavior, even if it’s rare. This way, the guardians leave less room for children to seek attention and act aggressively (Kadane L, 2022).
With economic difficulties affecting more parents in recent years, it’s not uncommon to encounter parents who are struggling to cope. In cases where parents have exhausted all their resources, seeking the advice of an expert in child and parent psychology, such as a child psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist, is often the best course of action. These professionals can offer guidance and support to address underlying issues and improve relationships within the family.
“Here’s a secret: when you get yourself under control, the kids will also usually calm down. Remember, calm is contagious—and so is anxiety. It’s been proven that a parent’s anxiety about their child contributes significantly to the anxiety of their child.”– Debbie Pincus, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Children are always going to test their limits by pushing their parents’ buttons. Due to their greater age and experience, parents have the advantage of leading the family in a direction that is more favorable. Hence, it is more important to “respond thoughtfully rather than simply react” (Pincus D, n.d.).
At Humanium, the well-being of children is our top priority. We hold the belief that in order to understand and address the needs of today’s children, adults must first connect with and acknowledge their own needs. Our approach is crafted by human rights advocates, including life coaches, psychologists, leadership graduates, and therapists. Our shared values promote a parenting style that is gentle and emphasizes accountability.
If you wish to be a part of making a positive impact on someone’s life and supporting our cause, we invite you to consider volunteering your time, making a donation, or sponsoring a child. Every contribution, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated and can make a significant difference.
Written by Lidija Misic
Dewar Gwen (2019), Traditional Chinese parenting: What research says about children and why they succeed. Retrieved from Parenting Science at https://parentingscience.com/chinese-parenting/, accessed on March 2, 2023.
Hendaus Mohamed et al. (2020), Child abuse and neglect in a rapidly developing country: Parents’ perspectives. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7491849/, accessed on March 3, 2023.
Kadane Lisa (2022), The one parenting trick everybody needs to know. Retrieved from Today’s Parent at https://www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/positive-reinforcement-one-parenting-trick-everybody-needs/, accessed on March 7, 2023.
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Pincus Debbie (n.d.), Calm Parenting: How to Get Control When Your Child Makes You Angry. Retrieved from Empowering Parents at https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/calm-parenting-get-control-child-making-angry/, accessed on March 2, 2023.
Radhakrishnan Rohini (2021), Can Yelling at a Child Be Harmful? Retrieved from MedicineNet at https://www.medicinenet.com/can_yelling_at_a_child_be_harmful/article.htm, accessed on March 2, 2023.
Successful Homemakers (n.d.), The Root of Yelling. Retrieved from Successful Homemakers at https://successfulhomemakers.com/the-root-of-yelling/, accessed on March 2, 2023.