Misbehaving teen: your yelling aggravates more


Do you have a teen throwing constant tantrums and ignoring your every request?

A recent study reveals that meeting their behaviour with hostility has the opposite effect of what you were hoping for, rather promoting bad behaviour than curbing it.

This was revealed after a study involving 976 primary middle-class, two-parent families and adolescents in Pennsylvania was conducted and recorded in the Child Development journal. All families were already participating in long-term research that studies the interaction of families and their adolescents, with particular focus on their mental and relational wellbeing.

The study author, assistant professor with the department of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education Ming-Te Wang, says -Most parents who yell at their adolescent children wouldn’t dream of physically punishing their teens. Yet, their use of harsh verbal discipline – defined as shouting, cursing or using insults – is just as detrimental to the long-term well-being of adolescents.

He continues, -Our findings offer insight into why some parents feel that no matter how loud they shout, their teenagers do not listen. Indeed, not only does harsh verbal discipline appear to be ineffective at addressing behavioural problems in youth, it actually appears to increase such behaviours.

Verbal assault cancels your good deeds

As can be expected, nearly nine out of 10 American parents admit that they have used harsh verbal discipline at some point in their child’s lives, with half of them saying that they have subjected their child to the harshest of forms of verbal assault like cursing or name-calling.

Children between 13 and 14 years of age were asked to reveal their behavioural issues such as disobedience at school, stealing, damaging property, lying to parents and fighting. Parents, on the other hand, had to disclose the regularity of their harsh verbal discipline like yelling, shouting, swearing and name-calling.

Adolescents had to describe the degree of warmth they felt toward their parents.

Wang said they found that -parental warmth did not lessen the effects of the verbal discipline. The sense that parents are yelling at the child -out of love’ or -for their own good’ does not mitigate the damage inflicted. Neither does the strength of the parent-child bond. Even if you are supportive of your child, if you fly off the handle it’s still bad.

The adolescents who felt emotional pain and discomfort as a result of harsh verbal discipline, showed an increase in anger with a decrease in inhibition – a dangerous combination. This lead to more lying, fighting, etc.

So how do I deal with my out-of-control teen?

Wang advises: -Parents who wish to modify their teenage children’s behaviour would do better by communicating with them on an equal level, and explaining their rationale and worries to them. Parenting programmes are in a good position to offer parents insight into how behaviours they may feel the need to resort to, such as shouting or yelling, are ineffective and harmful, and to offer alternatives to such behaviours.

-But it is important to point out that we’re not just talking about shouting in frustration which everybody has done. It’s one thing entirely to raise your voice at your child. That happens. But it is another thing entirely to say to your teen -you’re dumb’ or lazy, or issue vulgarities, says Rahil Briggs, the director of paediatric behavioural health services at Montefiore Medical Centre and an assistant professor of the paediatrics with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Briggs continues, -The issue is that your parents are supposed to be on your side, on your team. But here we’re talking about verbal intimidation and humiliation, which is in many ways the most damaging to children trying to find their way in life. So, this finding is not surprising at all.

Source: Inside Edition: America’s News Magazine, online

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