With Teens, the More You Yell, the More Behavioral Problems Result

09/08/2013

Dealing with teens photoTeens can be hard to deal with, their hormones running wild and their consistent plight to confirm their own identity. But the urge to yell and scream at your teens may make the problem that much worse, according to a new study. Yelling and screaming at your teens may actually increase behavioral issues. 

In a recent study, published in the journal of Child Development, parents that used harsh verbal discipline on 13-year-olds put their teens at greater risk of depression and instances of acting out. Kids with more problems tended to get screamed at more often, which only made the problem worse. 

"No matter how much you shout, your teenagers don't listen," says Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor of psychology and education at the University of Pittsburgh, and lead author of the study on NPR SHOTS. "It makes things worse and worse, and makes the relationships more tense."

In another study, more than 90 percent of parents reported shouting at their kids or using harsh verbal discipline at some prior time. The study looked at 976 families with a mother, father, and middle-school aged child, living in Pennsylvania. Parents were largely middle class, both white and black. In the past year, 45 percent of mothers and 42 percent of fathers had used harsh verbal discipline with their teenagers. 

Harsh verbal discipline created behavioral problems even if parents were otherwise supportive and caring. 

"What are the effects of yelling to or at your child on this one day and then another one next week?" We really don't know, Alan Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center says. "But we do know that yelling, nagging, hitting, etc., does not strengthen the child to help them handle life."

Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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Read More: Teen Binge Eating Signals Larger Problems


Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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