With about 90% of American parents admitting that they yell harshly at their children, the results from the latest study from the University of Pittsburgh should make them reconsider.
Scientists looked at 976 two-parent families and their children, the majority of which were middle class. The study, published in the journal Child Development, found that not only does harsh verbal discipline appear to be ineffective at addressing behavior issues, but that it may make things worse. Teens who are shouted at and otherwise severely verbally disciplined, tend to suffer more depressive symptoms and are more likely to have conduct problems such as misbehaving at school, lying stealing or fighting.
Interestingly, these results hold true even in families who show maternal and paternal warmth. Researchers think that the verbal discipline and the hostility it contains could lead to an increase in the risk of delinquency because it lowers inhibition and fosters anger and irritability in teens.
As teens approach adolescence, wise parents should focus on their relationship with their teen and talk more with them about expectations for behavior and consequences. Listening to the teen’s side or version of events and calmly discussing things will always lead to a more satisfactory outcome. The study supports what most parents of teens already know, the louder your voice gets, the faster they tune out. Don’t shout at or insult your teen.