What Does Yelling Do To a Child? New Study Provides Insights

What Does Yelling Do To a Child? New Study Provides InsightsParenting is a constant balancing act between showing love to your child and managing their unpleasant behaviors. But no parent is perfect. Often, when a child behaves poorly, it’s easy for mom or dad to lose their composure and resort to yelling at the child. Now, a study warns that yelling or shouting at children can damage them as much as physical or sexual abuse does.

The 2022 study, conducted by university researchers in North Carolina and London, analyzed 166 earlier studies on childhood verbal abuse. They found that children subjected to this type of abuse may suffer its effects in their adulthood, such as depression, substance abuse, or even obesity.

What is Childhood Verbal Abuse?

Based on scientific literature, the study authors say the most common definition of childhood verbal abuse is “language intended to cause distress to the target.” This may come in the form of negative tone, volume, or speech content. The recent analysis enumerates these examples of verbally abusive acts towards children:

  • Shouting or yelling
  • Insulting
  • Humiliating
  • Demeaning or belittling
  • Shaming
  • Threatening
  • Swearing or cursing
  • Blaming or scapegoating
  • Negative predictions
  • Negative comparisons.

According to the analysis, the lasting effects of childhood verbal abuse include mental distress such as depression or anger; physical health issues such as obesity; and externalized symptoms such as substance abuse or criminal activity. Childhood verbal abuse survivors may also turn into perpetrators of abuse as adults.

Can Childhood Verbal Abuse Affect Child Custody in Colorado?

Colorado courts consider verbal abuse as a form of domestic violence, hence verbally abusing a child can affect a child custody case. The parent who has perpetrated the abuse may have a weaker case for winning custody or parenting time with their child.

Even so, domestic abuse is only one of the many factors that a Colorado judge considers when determining child custody. If other factors overshadow past incidents of verbal abuse, it may still be possible for either parent to be granted parenting time.

One major factor that can sway the court’s decision is the child’s wishes as to which parent to live with. If the judge believes the child is mature enough to have an independent preference, they will take that preference into account. However, no matter how old the child is, their preference won’t be the final say. The judge will still make the child custody determination based on all relevant factors.

How Can I Discipline My Child Without Shouting?

Whether or not you are seeking child custody, it’s always beneficial to learn healthy parenting methods. Here are some tips to practice child-appropriate discipline without verbal abuse, as shared by Unicef:

  • One-on-one time. Regularly spend a few minutes one-on-one with your child, whether it’s washing dishes or singing songs. This helps build a relationship of communication and trust.
  • Set clear expectations. Understand what your child is capable of doing, and use clear words for what you’re instructing them to do. Example: “Please put all your toys in the box” instead of just “Put away all that mess.”
  • Use calm consequences. Explain the undesired outcomes of your child’s bad behavior. It can be as simple as reduced playtime, for example. It’s important to follow through with these repercussions calmly but consistently.
  • Praise the positives. Pay attention to your child’s positive behavior, too. Praise their good actions to create a “positive feedback loop” in their mind. Your child will also learn that they don’t have to act out to get your attention – their good behavior gets noticed, too.
  • Breathe when stressed. When you’re frazzled by your child’s behavior, pause for a moment and take five deep breaths. This helps you reset and calm your emotions, so you can respond more mindfully.

As we try every day to parent better, it’s important to understand our occasional shortcomings as well. There will be inevitable moments of raised voices and charged emotions. These don’t automatically make us undeserving parents, as long as we don’t allow these moments to escalate into a pattern of abuse.