Washington Times 28 Sept 2013
Spanking has become taboo in many communities, and the favored method of discipline for unruly children across the country has become the time out. However, when children, especially those troublesome toddlers in the “terrible twos” start disobeying, many parents first result to yelling to communicate their displeasure. A new study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published in the journal Child Development finds that yelling at children may be as harmful as hitting.
While this may come as a shock to parents, the study finds that children who were frequently yelled at, called names like “lazy,” or cursed at suffered even if the rest of the parent-child relationship was warm and stable. The effects of the negative language were not as visible as physical abuse to the average person, but rather the problems were more emotional and behavioral.
Children whose parents reported using harsh language with their children experienced higher behavioral problems in the following year than children who parents did not yell. These children showed increases in the following year in fighting with peers as well as with their parents, doing poorly in school, lying and showing signs of depression. Surprisingly, these effects were the same as with children whose parents used spanking or pushing as a physical discipline approach.
While the study group was composed of adolescents ages 13-14, the principles can still be applied to young children. The study said that yelling had such a negative impact because of the developing self-image, and it makes them feel incapable and hurts their self-image.
Young children also are developing an important sense of self during the trouble time of toddler-hood and pre-school when they are trying to exert their independence and explore the world around them in new ways. If yelling has such negative consequences on older children who are developing into young adults, think what it can do to the self-esteem and confidence of a young child. The potential is for it to set up a negative cycle of failure and discipline problem for years to come.