Why You Shouldn’t Yell at Your Kids

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Children tend to get on our bad side now and again. I used to find myself shouting at the top of my lungs as a way to express my anger. They would storm off to their safe space and lock themselves shut. Had I not realized the repercussions of my tone, I wouldn’t be enjoying the thriving relationship I have with them now. 

Here are viable reasons to quit yelling at your kids: 

Crushes Self-Esteem

There’s an absolute level of power that you hold over your little ones. To them, you’re a human that’s double their size and provides the basic necessities of life. When such an important person in their life frightens them, their sense of security becomes threatened. 

A study was conducted where adults were recorded yelling. When the clips were played to the subjects, the researchers couldn’t believe their facial reactions. Kids may give off an adult-like character, but they lack the emotional sophistication to handle your harsh verbal punishment.

As obvious as it may sound, yelling frightens kids. Always being on the receiving end of aggression and intimidation makes them highly anxious. It takes away their self-esteem and leads to depression at an early age. 

What follows, as you’d expect, is a surge in behavioral problems.

Triggers Aggressive Behavior

Aggressive behavior in children often stems from insecurity and frustration. Kids who receive frequent verbal punishment grow up imitating their parents’ aggression. Although your parental frustrations may be justifiable, it matters a great deal how you express them to your kids. 

Most parents believe that hollering at their children is effective enough in instilling discipline. On the contrary, what yelling does is scare them and shoots up aggression in their behavior as they develop.

To them, yelling ultimately becomes a conventional way of grappling with their frustrations and negative emotions. This will easily reflect in their behavior. 

What you can do as a parent is simply to tame your emotions. When you yell, you’re basically telling them that adversity is handled only by an angry voice and a raised tone.

Shift to a more respectful dialogue and bury the toxic yelling monologue. The calmer you are, the more reassuring you become to your child. In turn, they will grow up with a boosted self-esteem and reduced physical and verbal aggression.

Fight, Flight, or Freeze 

While you may not be ruining your kids’ brains as you yell at them, you’re adjusting them. The psychological ramifications of yelling at juveniles are real. During calm situations, the neurotransmitters in the brain come alive.

They dispatch relaxing biochemicals to offer a sense of safety. This occurs in children when they establish neural pathways to be at ease.

Take a situation where you’re yelling at your infuriating toddler. Since the kid’s prefrontal cortex is underdeveloped, they instead secrete flight, flight, or freeze biochemicals. 

Once these substances are fully pumped into your little one’s system, they become capable of anything at this point. They may hit you, take off, or freeze like a deer in headlights.

Needless to say, none of those are healthy for normal brain formation. If you yell at them time and again, you’re not exactly helping them to establish healthy communication skills

Sparks Guilt 

“Why are you so mean!!!” my son yelled as he stomped his way up the stairs to his room. For a few moments, I stood in the same position trying, to internalize what just happened. I then decided to walk up to his room and have a chat, but the door was locked. He broke a rule, and I responded to his disobedience the best way I could—yelling. 

As a parent, I’ve never felt proud of myself after yelling at my kids. The rage I direct toward my little angels paints me as a major control freak. Even worse, it makes me look weak. Screaming like a maniac to your kids is more of a release than a strategy. Luckily, I found a way to deal with the post-yelling guilt.

Rather than yell, what you need to do is try out the ABC (antecedents, behaviors, and consequences) praise method. The next time your child messes up, be effusive and smile, albeit sarcastically. Then, touch your child and give them a form of nonverbal praise. 

Doing so will get rid of your temper tantrums and relay your message in the nicest way possible. Speaking of relaying messages…


Hinders Effective Communication 

Despite being the most ineffective form of communication, yelling is quite common among parents. When you yell at your kids, here are three toxic messages you’re putting across:

  • Being aggressive and raising your tone is the way to go.
  • You’ve lost control of yourself and the situation.
  • Kids are there to be controlled and lorded over, rather than nurtured and loved. 

Yelling is a mechanism parents use to express their anger or disappointment. However, it’s a very poor form of communication as it offers temporary results. All that remains after you yell at your child is resentment and bitterness. 

Scaring your little one into submission is simply merciless and graceless. It belittles them, and you make it seem as though there is zero room for error. Who you become at that moment is the worst example of what your child would consider a role model.

Causes Chronic Pain

A recent study was conducted to find the relation between chronic conditions and negative childhood experiences. Sure enough, there was a definitive link between the two. Among the most common forms of chronic pain include bad headaches, arthritis, back and neck problems, just to mention a few.

The connection between childhood trauma and chronic pain is yet to be fully established. However, it may have a lot to do with physiological health. When you raise your tone towards your child, their body’s stress response becomes activated. 

However, once the response stays activated for extended periods, stress occurs. What follows next is that the vital neural connections within the child’s developing brain become damaged. Here’s the hard part: the biological impacts can be impossible and difficult to completely reverse.

Prevent your child from suffering later in life by not making them feel threatened. The best way to do that is pretty simple: stop yelling at them. 

Final Thoughts

Parents are human, and we have feelings too. But yelling at your kids is never the way to go. Keep in mind that they don’t push your buttons intentionally (well, most of the time). Try and give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Before passing unfair or inaccurate sentiments, step away from the situation. 

Get your emotions in check. When your mind is relaxed, get back to your child, and have a calm dialogue. The most essential part of parenting is knowing how to blend discipline with effective communication. 

Your child’s long-term health and personality development depend on your current parenting choices. I sincerely hope you make the right ones!

Cristin is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice, and the loving mother of two wonderful children. In her free time, she can often be found in a yoga studio or catching up on her favorite shows.