5 Ways that Shouting at Children Hurts them Long-Term

18 December, 2019
Different studies have suggested that shouting at children could hurt them emotionally, cerebrally and physically. Find out more in today's article. 

Different studies have suggested that shouting at children could hurt them emotionally, cerebrally and physically. Find out more in today’s article. 

Shouting at children is never the best option when raising them. Believe it or not, screaming is also another form of violence that can cause long term damage to your child’s personality and brain.

Next, we’ll tell you why it’s better to raise your children in a respectful way, and why you should avoid shouting at them. Keep reading and find out how you can discipline them using love and empathy.

Parent’s yells

Shouting at children isn't helpful.

Have you ever looked back on the times that you’ve yelled? Those shouts show that you have lost control. Therefore, you only shout when you want to be heard and impose your thoughts. Now, do you really think raising your voice will help to convey your message?

According to data published in the book Outsmarting Anger: 7 Strategies for Defusing Our Most Dangerous Emotion by psychiatrist Joseph Strand, Ph.D, when you start to raise your voice, the child’s limbic system is activated. That same system is responsible for the instinctive ‘fight or flight’ response.

Therefore, when you shout at your children, instead of getting them to listen and pay attention, you’re actually doing the opposite. You’re making them want to scream back or, if that doesn’t work, they want to escape and hide. 

Additionally, screaming doesn’t feel good, for you or your children. Let’s take a look at what consequences shouting has on the minds of little ones.

Read this article: When Childhood Stress Is Caused by Parents

1. Shouting causes changes in the infant brain

A mum yelling at her kid.

A 2011 study concluded that early and continued exposure to stress generated by yelling could change the way the brain processes the information it receives through language.

Shouting at children could change the way in which the infant brain develops. They may start processing negative information and events more exhaustively and quickly than positive ones. 

2. Shouting at children can cause depression and low self-esteem

Do you remember how you felt when your mother, father or teacher yelled at you? When you shout at children, you provoke fear, frustration and sadness. However, beyond those transient emotions, you could also affect the child’s psyche.

Raising your voice so that your child listens to you sends a loud and clear message. “They aren’t good enough to do things correctly, just as you expected.” That lack of patience and tolerance could make them feel that they don’t meet your expectations. This will end up damaging their self-esteem. 

Additionally, some research has suggested that verbal abuse could be the cause of psychological problems in adulthood. In fact, screaming has been associated with depression and anxiety. In addition, it has also been associated with self-destructive actions such as alcohol and drug abuse or risky sexual behaviors.

3. Emotional abuse could aggravate behavioral problems

A man shouting at child.

As we explained at the beginning of this article, shouting at children causes a response from their limbic system. This response is either fight or flight. In many cases, raising your voice at your child will only make the problem worse. It will actually increase their rebelliousness and stubbornness, which may even put them in danger. 

Researchers observed that 13-year-old children who had experienced stressful situations due to their parents’ shouts had increased their negative behavior in the medium term. Therefore, if you want to keep the situation from getting even more complicated, you should avoid shouting at children.

4. Shouting teaches them the wrong way to deal with things

Parents are the mirror in which their children look at. If we don’t know how to control our emotions, how can we expect our kids to? By losing control, we are teaching them to behave like us. When we shout, we are showing them that’s how you can get what you want.

Why don’t you try talking instead of shouting? Why don’t you teach your children to handle their frustrations in a positive way? Let’s set the example so that later in life they will turn into confident, empathetic and respectful adults. 

Discover:  They Never Go Out of Style: Respect and Good Manners

5. Screaming could affect children’s physical health

A man screaming.

As you have read, some studies have concluded that the stress children experience from their parents yelling at them could lead to chronic diseases. These diseases are caused by the endocrine discharge generated by stress. Among the possible physical problems are:

  • Arthritis
  • Migraine or severe headaches
  • Back and neck problems
  • Other chronic pains

In conclusion, if we want our children to become happy, emotionally empathetic, resilient and healthy adults, we need to learn how to manage our own emotions first. Shouting at children isn’t the answer to our problems, nor will it make our children learn any faster. 

Stop yelling today and try some positive techniques when it comes to raising children. When you feel like you’re about to explode, get away, breathe and calm yourself down. Talk respectfully to your child at his level. Remember that you are the mirror that your children look at, and the way they think about themselves in the future will have a lot to do with you.

  • NCBI. (2011). Exposure to parental verbal abuse is associated with increased gray matter volume in superior temporal gyrus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20483374
  • NCBI. (2012). The Long-Term Health Consequences of Child Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, and Neglect: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3507962/
  • Wang, Ming‐Te. Kenny, Sarah. Longitudinal Links Between Fathers’ and Mothers’ Harsh Verbal Discipline and Adolescents’ Conduct Problems and Depressive Symptoms. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12143
  • Al Odhayani, A., Watson, W. J., & Watson, L. (2013, August). Behavioural consequences of child abuse. Canadian Family Physician, 59(8), 831-836
    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743691/
  • NCBI. (2011). Psychological stress in childhood and susceptibility to the chronic diseases of aging: moving toward a model of behavioral and biological mechanisms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21787044?dopt=Abstract