Study says yelling is as hurtful as hitting

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Published September 05, 2013

| The Wall Street Journal

Parents who yell at their adolescent children for misbehaving can cause some of the same problems as hitting them would, including increased risk of depression and aggressive behavior, according to a new study.

A good, warm relationship with Mom and Dad doesn't protect teens from the negative effects of parents' yelling, cursing or lobbing insults, such as calling teens "lazy" or "stupid," the study found. Conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan, the study was published Wednesday on the journal Child Development's website.

While spanking has become taboo in many U.S. communities, yelling doesn't have nearly the same social stigma. Indeed, parents sometimes think yelling will make their charges listen and behave. But the study found the opposite to be true.

"Shouting cannot reduce or correct their problem behavior," said Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor in the departments of education and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and a co-author of the study. "On the contrary, it makes it worse."

Timothy Verduin, clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, who wasn't involved in the study, said parents can effectively discipline kids by taking away privileges, such as screen time or the car keys.

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