Effects of Yelling at Your Children


It’s common knowledge that shouting at children is not the way to go but as a parent you also know that it requires every ounce of strength not to yell at them. Kids can push you to the limit and allow your emotions to get the best of you and before you know it you are screeching on top of your lungs. Parents yell because they feel frustrated, overwhelmed or angry but it rarely resolves the situation. Peace and quiet may prevail for a while but it doesn’t make a difference in their behaviour or attitudes.

What happens when you yell at a child is that they learn to fear you rather than understand the consequences of their actions. Children learn from their parents and if they begin to perceive anger and aggression as “normal” in their family, it will show in their behaviour.

There are both short-term as well as long-term psychological effects of yelling at a child. It’s a bit comforting to know that almost every parent faces the same issue and parental frustration is normal. It’s also possible to change the way you talk to your children and indulge in a respectful dialogue rather than a yelling monologue.

Yelling at a Child – What Happens

If you are wondering can yelling at a child be harmful — there is no doubt about it.  Yelling at a kid doesn’t make your message any clearer. In fact, they learn to tune out, making discipling them even harder. It eventually makes them more physically and verbally aggressive as shouting at children is an expression of anger. It also scares them and causes them to feel insecure.

Talking to them calmly but firmly is reassuring to them and they feel accepted and loved in spite of their inappropriate behaviour. Verbal insults and putdowns while yelling qualify as emotional abuse and can cause long-term effects like low self-esteem, anxiety and aggression. They are also more susceptible to bullying as their understanding of boundaries and self-respect is rather poor.  Studies by the American Psychological Association  show that children can learn both violent behaviour and compassionate behaviour from their parents very early in life depending on what they are subjected to.

Psychological Effects Of Yelling At A Child

Short-term psychological effects of yelling at a child are visible almost immediately and your child may show anxiety, aggression and withdrawal. Statistics show that children showed more aggression when subjected  to corporal punishment, disappointment and yelling by parents. Children who were spanked, had time-outs and were shamed had higher anxiety levels. In fact, studies show that verbal abuse causes more behavioural problems than corporal punishment. Boys and girls also react differently to verbal abuse. Boys subjected to verbal abuse often showed low self-control while girls subjected to verbal abuse usually reacted with anger or frustration.

Children mimic parental behaviour. What happens when you yell at a child is they will yell back at you because  you are teaching them how to communicate. If your child has an introverted personality,  they may not display aggression or talk back, but may instead withdraw from you or have mental health issues. They may rely on peers or teachers rather than on you. Adults who desisted from shouting at their children usually had  better behaved kids than those who yelled at their children.

Strategies That Help:

Children who feel safe and unconditionally loved and have a b emotional connection to their parents are easier to discipline. They are more receptive and listen before things escalate into a yelling match. There are a few strategies you could incorporate on a regular basis to prevent yourself from shouting at children.

  • Take a Time-Out
  • Recognising that you struggle helps you get in better touch with your emotions. Step away from the situation before you succumb to anger and frustration and start shouting. By doing this, you give yourself a chance to  breathe deeply and calm yourself down. It is also a good way to teach children  how to manage b emotions in a healthy and respectful way.

  • Talk About Emotions
  • It’s a good idea to talk to your children about different types of emotions. Anger is a normal emotion and should be managed properly. By acknowledging emotions from joy to sadness, jealousy, anger and frustration, your child learns that they are all normal. Talk about your feelings and encourage your children to do the same or give them books on the topic of emotions. It will help them to respect themselves and others and form healthy relationships in life.

  • Be Calm, But Firm
  • It’s normal for children to misbehave occasionally and if you talk to them firmly and calmly, their dignity is left intact while making it clear that certain behaviours will not be tolerated. Always get down to their eye level rather than speaking to them standing and from a height as it can be intimidating. 

  • Use Consequences, Not Threats
  • Threats and punishment creates anger, resentment and arguments without developing inner discipline. These humiliate and shame children and can cause insecurity. On the other hand, if you explain the consequences of a particular behaviour, it helps them make better choices.

  • Ignore Frustrating Behaviour
  • Sometimes, it’s best to ignore annoying or irritating behaviour like whining or tantrums rather than getting into a dialogue about it.

  • Encourage Two-Way Interactions
  • Children hate being ashamed or embarrassed as much as adults  and so it’s best to encourage two-way interactions. It’s okay to address the mistakes they made, but without hurting their dignity.

  • Praise Respectful Behaviour
  • Always praise your child when they are respectful while talking, in behaviour and problem-solving as it helps them both in the short term and long term.

  • Remember That Children Are Still Learning
  • Sometimes you have to remind yourself that children are still learning about life. Testing the waters and making mistakes is part of learning and growing

What to Do if You Slip Up

  • If you do shout at children sometimes, it’s alright and you just need to own up to it and apologise. This teaches children that everyone makes mistakes and we need to apologise.
  • If your children yell, gently remind them of boundaries and how yelling is not acceptable. They need to be told that they have your attention as long as they speak respectfully.
  • Give yourself time to cool off before talking to your children when you are upset or frustrated.
  • Your behaviour will teach your children to be understanding of their own and other’s mistakes and realise that forgiveness is important for healthy communication in a family.
  • Have a talk with your children about how yelling and anger are not healthy ways of managing situations.
  • If you do make mistakes, don’t give up as no one said parenting is easy.

Yelling at children doesn’t work well on the psychological health of children. It’s a major cause of problems like anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Behavioural issues like aggression and bullying are also commonly seen. Teach your children about how to handle emotions and praise your kids when they communicate and behave appropriately. In case you would like more tips on this topic, do get in touch with the EuroKids website for the latest updates.