Parents' Harsh Words Might Make Teen Behaviors Worse

Posted on September 18, 2013

"What are the effects of yelling to or at your child on this one day and then another one next week?"

Most parents yell at their kids at some point. It often feels like the last option for getting children to pay attention and shape up.

But harsh verbal discipline may backfire. Teenagers act worse if they're yelled at, a study finds.

Researchers asked parents of 13-year-olds in the Philadelphia area how often in the past year they'd yelled, cursed or called the kid "dumb or lazy or some other word like that" after he or she had done something wrong.

Almost half of the nearly 900 parents said they used harsh verbal punishment — 45 percent of the moms and 42 percent of the fathers.

The parents who used more harsh words when the child was 13 were more likely to see increases in their teenager's conduct problems when asked again a year later. And the children who faced high levels of harsh verbal discipline were more likely to have symptoms of depression at age 14.

That squares with other studies that find that 90 percent of parents say they've yelled at their kids. One study found that half of parents say they've cursed at their teenagers or called them names.

The problem with verbal or physical punishment, Kazdin says, is that they are ineffective ways to get people to improve behavior. "People like me are against it because you don't need it to change behavior."

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Category(s):Parenting, Teenage Issues

Source material from NPR