3 Ways Yelling Hurts Your Kids


Aaron! she yells out to her son.


No response.


“Aaaaaarooooooonnnn!” Her voice gets louder and angrier.


I try not to listen, but I can’t help but overhear as my neighbor’s shouts leak through our apparently too thin walls.

While I’ve seen some great moments of love and parenting from this woman, yelling is all too frequent at her house. One day when she was talking to me about it, she said, “Oh, the kids are really well-behaved for other people. But it seems like they just won’t listen to anything I say unless I yell!”

For many parents, yelling may seem like the only way to get kids to actually listen and do what they’re told. But how does yelling affect your kids? And is it really an effective way to help kids behave better?

Here are just a few of the effects yelling can have on children.

1. More behavioral issues

When you’ve tried asking nicely a thousand times, yelling may seem like the only option. But research suggests that yelling doesn’t actually help kids behave better! One study found that harsh verbal discipline was connected with more behavior issues in teenage years (2). Another study found that verbal abuse, including yelling, increased the likelihood of delinquent behavior (2).

So when you feel like yelling, remember: it probably won’t improve their behavior long term.

2. More emotional issues

Yelling at your kids doesn’t just lead to misbehavior; it can also have a big emotional impact. In fact, research shows that high levels of verbal aggression and harsh verbal discipline are related to high levels of depressive symptoms for youth (1) (3). Yelling can be particularly hard on kids emotionally if it’s combined with threats or insults, leading to self-criticism, depression, and anxiety (4).

When you’re about to yell, think about the impact it may have on your child emotionally.

3. A damaged relationship

What if your spouse constantly yelled at you? Or your boss? Or your friend? Odds are, you wouldn’t feel very good when you were around that person. You might look for opportunities to avoid them, or you may even look for a new job or friend to get away from the yelling.

It turns out that your kids don’t like to be yelled at any more than you do. Dr. Justin Coulson summed it up well when he said, “Yelling and anger leave . . . our children feeling worthless and our relationships damaged” (5).

So next time your child isn’t responding and you’re tempted to yell, think about what matters more: whatever you’re yelling about, or your relationship.

Steer Clear of Yelling

While it’s normal for parents to get fed up sometimes and lose their cool, it’s important to do the best we can to steer clear of yelling. Yelling at your children will only lead to worse behavior, hurt your kids emotionally, and damage your relationship with them.

» Click to show references


1. Wang, M., & Kenny, S. (2014). Longitudinal links between fathers’ and mothers’ harsh verbal discipline and adolescents’ conduct problems and depressive symptoms. Child Development, 85(3), 908-923. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cdev.12143/full

2. Evans, S. Z., Simons, L. G., & Simons, R. L. (2012, August). The effect of corporal punishment and verbal abuse on delinquency: Mediating mechanisms. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(8), 1095-1110. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10964-012-9755-x

3. Donovan, K. L., & Brassard, M. R. (2011, October). Trajectories of maternal verbal aggression across the middle school years: Associations with negative view of self and social problems. Child Abuse & Neglect, 35(10), 814-830. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213411002031?via%3Dihub

4. Sachs-Ericsson, N., Verona, E., Joiner, T., & Preacher, K. J. (2006, July). Parental verbal abuse and the mediating role of self-criticism in adult internalizing disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 93(1-3), 71-78. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032706000917?via%3Dihub

5. Coulson, J. (2016, January 24). No yelling here! Dr. Justin Coulson explains how to discipline your kids without shouting. Retrieved from http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/kids/no-yelling-here-dr-justin-coulson-explains-how-to-discipline-your-kids-without-shouting/news-story/5363128d2c755fed009b4d6dfa8cea04

» Click to hide references

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Agree? Disagree? Or just want to share your own experience? Leave a comment. We love to hear from our readers!