We’ve all been there, done that — yelled at our toddler, that is. No parent can honestly claim she has kept her cool the entire time, no matter how loving, understanding, or patient she may be.
Of course, it’s regrettable that it has to happen at all. Just seeing your kid close to tears and red in the face out of self-pity or shame will awaken all the mom guilt in you. But if you were hoping to let your child realize what he did wrong by blowing your top, get this: your child might not even understand what you’re yelling about, saysDr. Kathryn Smerling.
“When a child hears a parent yelling, they feel terrible and don’t understand what it is that they did, or they don’t necessarily know that it’s wrong.” (So — all that for nothing, how about that.)
Not only does your toddler not get why his parent is so upset, your yelling also makes an impact on the way he feels about himself.
At this age, your child is only beginning to grasp the concept of right and wrong. What you may think was a deliberate offense to disobey you may actually be nothing. Moreover, because you’ve lost your temper and the tone of your voice is stressing him out, it may be even more difficult for your child to process what you are saying. And if it does seem like he’s finally following your instruction, know that it’s not primarily because he understands — he just wants you to stop yelling.
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He loses confidence
If the parent keeps finding something a child did wrong, he will likely begin doubting himself if he can do anything right. It’s bound to happen. “A chronic pattern of psychological maltreatment destroys a child’s sense of self and personal safety,” reads part of a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics. As a result, it may also loosen the ties you have with your child.
He feels insecure
Being constantly on the receiving end of a negative emotion (and not having the tools to process it properly) can harm your child in the long term. A study published in the Journal of Child Development found out that those children who grew up seeing yelling as a normal way to communicate had higher chances of growing up with anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues.
Added Smerling, “Yelling is a learned behavior, and a child who gets yelled at will learn and most likely also yell at people.”
A study which involved children who are constantly yelled at by their parents shows that harsh verbal discipline can have the same harmful effects as spanking a child.
Says Meghan Leahy, parenting expert of The Washington Post, “You’re either growing aggression or growing shame. Those are not characteristics that any parents want in their kids. If you yell at your child, you either create somebody who yells back at you or somebody who is shamed and retreats.”
Well, nobody said parenthood would be easy. It’s a tough balancing act — but it can be done. Try this mom’s trick to avoid yelling at her child if you’re out of moves. And know that even when you fail as you try, you tried.