Study Says Yelling Is As Hurtful as Hitting
By Mel Fabrikant Sunday, September 08, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT
Dr. Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder is an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University in New York. She is co-author of the book “Teenage As a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual.” She is a clinical administrator on an adolescent inpatient unit in a private psychiatric hospital, and maintains a private outpatient practice.
Professor Powell-Lunder is a published researcher, accomplished speaker who has presented both nationally and internationally, and consultant on teen issues for national and international media outlets.
She is available to comment on the report that parents who yell at their adolescent children for misbehaving can cause some of the same problems as hitting them would, including increased risk of depression and aggressive behavior, according to a new study. Conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan, the study was published Wednesday on the journal Child Development's website.
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"Children learn so much about behavior by observing," says Dr. Powell-Lunder, who wasn't involved in the study. "Parents are the main role models of behavior for their children. As previous research has also reflected, how parents behave has a far greater impact on our children's behavior than most of us may realize.
"When parents yell and scream at their children, or at others with whom they interact, their child gets the message that this is appropriate behavior. In turn these children may interact similarly with their peers, parents, teachers, and coaches. This behavior can cause a host of problems for teens in the outside world.
"The best approach to encouraging positive behaviors in children and teens is twofold. First, parents need to practice what they preach. Secondly, parents need to create a structured and supportive environment for their kids. Such an environment includes clear rules, consequences and of course reinforcement through praise and continued encouragement.
"The best way to get kids to buy into a system of rules and consequences is to make the process an interactive one. Kids should work with their parents to create rules and devise consequences. Rules that aren't working need to be reviewed. So often parents get stuck on trying to make something work that never will. At these moments, parents are better served re-examining the specific rules that are ineffective. They should partner with their child to create a more productive solution to the problem."