Screaming at your teenagers to discipline them can make their behavior worse – even if you otherwise have a warm family relationship, researchers say.
The effects were comparable to those in studies that focused on physical punishments, the researchers said. “From that we can infer that these results will last the same way that the effects of physical discipline do,” the lead researcher, Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor of psychology in education at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement.
The researchers wrote that harsh verbal discipline has a “dramatic impact” on teens' behavior and emotional development. Still, they cited earlier researcher showing that about 90% of U.S. parents have used harsh verbal discipline – which they defined as shouting or other verbal intimidation, vulgarity, and humiliation such as calling the child lazy or dumb.
The scientists looked both at the effect of parents' actions on children and the effect of children's actions on parents. It created a “vicious circle,” Wang said. Adolescents' misconduct at age 13 also predicted increases in the parents’ use of harsh verbal discipline. That, they researchers wrote, has been the subject of few studies.