While many parents have been there, yelling at children as a form of punishment is actually detrimental to development, and new research proves it.
Speaking with Fatherly, Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, says there are several issues with this parenting method and will cause more problems down the line. The expert says that children are not as emotionally mature as adults, so the faces a parent makes when they yell can be negatively impactful.
“They’ve done studies where people were filmed yelling. When it was played back to the subjects, they couldn’t believe how twisted their faces got,” says the doctor.
This causes a few different issues. First, it breaks down the lines of communications with the child. When a parent is yelling, the kid, there is only so much they can take emotionally, and could shut down — nothing will get through at that point. Not only that, but it could trigger a fight, flight, or freeze, defense mechanism inside the child's brain. Dr. Markham says that with a younger child's underdeveloped brain, yelling could cause them to run away, or even hit the parent. Yet worst of all, consistent yelling could normalize the behavior, and cause the child to start yelling back when they're older. She says that once a child stops reacting to yelling, there's a big issue.
With all that said, there are times when yelling is important for parents. Most importantly, when children put themselves in danger. In this instance, Dr. Markham says raising your voice is a great way to ensure your message is being heard and retained. If hollering isn't normal, a kid will remember that moment. Essentially, it's best to use yelling for warning purposes, yet when its time to explain what the child did wrong, use calmer tones.
There is hope for parents, however, it just takes a bit of reevaluation. Dr. Markham says that a good shout can put an end to bad behavior in the moment, but it slowly eats away at the trust in the relationship. Instead, parents should respond with humor. This way, they keep their authority, without intimidation.
It's understandable why parents yell. Having children isn't easy, and it can be frustrating at times. Yet, with more information than ever regarding how raising your voice can impact your relationship with your kid, it's worth thinking about how your action impacts your child's development.