The Wall Street Journal:
Nearly every parent loses control and screams at the children now and then. But what if you do it repeatedly?Researchers suspect parents are yelling more. Parents have been conditioned to avoid spanking, so they vent their anger and frustration by shouting instead. Three out of four parents yell, scream or shout at their children or teens about once a month, on average, for misbehaving or making them angry, research shows. Increasingly, therapists and parenting experts are homing in on how it hurts a child, as well as how to stop it.
Raising your voice isn’t always bad. Loudly describing a problem can call attention to it without hurting anyone, says Adele Faber, a parenting trainer in Roslyn Heights, N.Y., and co-author of “How to Be the Parent You Always Wanted to Be.” For example: “I just mopped the kitchen floor and now it is covered with muddy footprints.”
Yelling becomes damaging when it is a personal attack, belittling or blaming a child with statements such as “Why can’t you ever remember?” or, “You always get this wrong!” Ms. Faber says.
Many parents lose control because they take children’s misbehavior or rebellion personally, research shows: They feel attacked or think the child’s actions reflect poorly on them. Parents who see a child’s negative emotions as unexpected, overwhelming and upsetting tend to feel more threatened and frustrated with each new outburst, says a study published earlier this month in the Journal of Family Psychology. This pattern, called “emotional flooding,” triggers a downward spiral in the relationship, disrupting the parent’s problem-solving ability and fueling emotional reactions, such as yelling.
Teens whose parents use “harsh verbal discipline” such as shouting or insults are more likely to have behavior problems and depression symptoms, says a recent study of 976 middle-class adolescents and their parents, published online last September and led by Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor of psychology and education at the University of Pittsburgh.
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