Enriching childhood with empowering parenthood

What happens when you yell at a child

What happens when you yell at a child

For several years the breeding techniques have changed in most homes around the world, but not all was for the best, the blows with which the children were scolded were changed by shouting and the parents, without realizing, with these encouraged problems in the self-esteem of their children. If you are one of those mothers who yell at your children, stay to read this, a psychologist revealed what this act means and I am sure that you will not like it.

In homes where screaming is recurrent, children tend to develop low self-esteem and higher rates of depression. A 2014 study published in The Journal of Child Development found that shouting produces in children squeal similar to physical punishment: high levels of anxiety, stress, depression and an increase in behavior problems.


According to a psychologist shouting at your children does not make them see you as someone with authority, but as someone out of control. It makes you look weak. Being honest, you’re screaming because you’re weak. Shouting, even more than spanking, is the reaction of a person who does not know what else to do.

Yelling should only be used in situations of extreme danger when you really need to get your child’s attention. Yelling should never be a go-to disciple strategy. It doesn’t work as a long-term parenting strategy because if it did, parents wouldn’t be constantly doing it! She also says kids will become “parent deaf” where they tune parents out because they are trained to think they don’t have to listen until their parents yell because then it’s serious.

 We shouted them daily for the same reasons, and then we shouted them even louder because the first scream did not work. Pick up your clothes. Go down to dinner. Do not climb on the dog. Stop hitting your brother.

“It screams when emotions are unduly channeled. All parents end up shouting at our children sooner or later and whoever says otherwise lies. But that it is almost inevitable, does not mean that it is justified. Therefore, when it is appropriate to apologize, calmly explain the reasons why we have lost our nerves and recognize that we have not managed to manage the situation, to prevent it from happening more often.

What happens when you yell at a child

  • The cries generate in the child stress and alarm that usually trigger the crying. It is convenient to choose the appropriate words, tone and volume of voice and that are accompanied by a non-verbal communication (gestures, looks) according to the message that is intended to be transmitted.
  • The moments of emotional uncontrolled, as when nerves are lost and shouts, make difficult the fact that the child can calmly reflect on what provokes the anger of their parents. The screams block the child’s ability to discern about the situation. He will feel overwhelmed and his parents will not be a model to manage and express their emotions in an appropriate and adjusted manner in terms of form and intensity (tone and adequate volume of voice).
  • Of screaming parents, children who also scream. Children learn mostly by imitation. So, if we do not want to receive the same, it is preferable to control the volume of voice we use with our children. The parents are a mirror for their children in terms of how to express their emotions, in this case their anger.
  • The child can develop a negative self-concept and have low self-esteem. The child’s self-esteem develops above all in the relationship with his parents. When the screaming is common (especially if accompanied by negative messages), the child will feel that everything he does is wrong and is justified to scream at him.
  • Feelings of anguish and anxiety are generated. If the child is very sensitive and tends not to express his emotions and defend himself out of fear when his parents shout at him, it is possible that when he is in similar situations with other people, he feels anxious and blocks himself.
  • The screams create feelings of helplessness. If the raised tone of voice in the face of disagreements is the norm, the child may come to the conclusion that his feelings or needs are unattended and he will tend not to express them in the future.

Why do we shout after children?

Although they do not know in detail can yelling at a child be harmful. Parents know, basically, that their children will suffer. So why are they still doing it? Essentially for these two reasons:

Parents often reproduce patterns of behavior that they have experienced as children: if their parents have shouted, they will also do so with their children. Let’s get rid of the burden of bad parenting models, so that we do not condemn our children to do the same once they become adults.

We give in to stress and fatigue, exploding our anger against those closest to us, the children. We know it’s unfair, but also harmful: let’s stop this.

Effect of shouting on health

According to research, shouting about children negatively affects their neurological and cerebral development in four ways:

  1. The cerebral corpus callosum – which connects the two hemispheres of the brain – can receive a lower blood flow , which affects the child’s balance and attention span,
  2. As the cry serves to warn of a danger, it stimulates the production of cortisol – the stress hormone – which predisposes the body to attack or escape: the child’s body stiffens and the thoughts then get stuck.
  3. Shouting after children undermines their self-esteem: they may feel unloved, even if the intention of the parents is only to correct them.
  4. Children who experience verbal abuse can develop behavioral problems, such as attitude to lying, depression, aggression, and poor performance in daily activities.

Reasons not to scream

Although it is not easy, there are numerous reasons to stop shouting at our children. Damage to their self-esteem, unstable emotionality and distancing are direct consequences of raising the tone of voice.

1. Emotional distancing we lose the positive ability to influence them. They move away when they see in us aggressive reactions and the relationship is based on fear. This fear is never positive. Neither the father gets obedience nor does he provide tools that improve the situation.

2. Conditioning in fear. Fear, anger or sadness are emotions directly linked to out-of-tune conversations. Respect must be based on our role as parents, on how to manage emotions and never on fear. If we condition the relationship negatively, it will take us too much time to bring it back.

3. Emotional blockage When we raise the tone of voice, a paradoxical reaction occurs in a child: stop listening to us. In very intense situations, they are blocked to protect themselves from damage. Therefore, with the screams, they do not pay attention to us or produce learning about the situation. The screams act in a reverse way to the desired one.

4. Terrible emotional development. We are an example for the little ones. Through us they learn to function in the world. Our mental schemes and our emotional management will be internalized and copied by them. If we overflow our emotions, they too. They will not learn to handle feelings like anger or sadness and they will not learn to control frustration either.

5. Damaged self-esteem.  Self-esteem is the hardest hit when screaming occurs. Offensive acts against them have a great impact on their assessment and confidence. They feel that everything they do is wrong, that they are not up to the expectations and they erase the positive feelings of their repertoire.

Child shouting at parents

Some time it may happen that some child shout at their parents for some reason. Some mothers also complain that my child shouts all the time. Regardless of the negative effects that screaming has on the development of the child, parents should not forget that it is a bad example, especially if we want to educate our children in tolerance and self-control. We cannot ask a child to behave well, to know how to deal with frustration and to control his emotions if we ourselves do not know how to do it.

In fact, many parents, when they perceive negative and unexpected reactions in their children, feel that the situation is beyond them, they do not know how to react and they open the doors to anger and frustration. It is a pattern that in Psychology is called “emotional flood”, which triggers an upward spiral of screaming and emotional reactions out of control.

In many cases this happens because parents have unreal expectations about children and expect them to behave as if they were more mature. In other cases it is because they do not have the necessary emotional strategies to deal with this situation. In both cases, it must be clear that screaming at children is not an option and can yelling at a child be harmful.

What should you do if you feel like screaming after your child?

If you feel that tantrums make you want to scream, here are some strategies that could help you regain your composure.

  • While making sure your toddler is safe, change rooms or leave for a few minutes, and breathe slowly. It will soothe and soothe your child.
  • Tell your child calmly that you are tired, impatient, etc. Even if he is very small and does not know all the emotions well, he understands by your tone what you are trying to express to him. In the same way, naming your emotions and saying how you feel could also relieve you and help you calm down.
  • If present, ask your partner to take over and intervene. Sometimes the same intervention, but applied by the other parent, will be more effective.
  • If you can, call a family member or friend to share your feelings of exasperation and anger. You will feel supported as needed.

Try Tracking your Yelling

It’s a good idea to track how often you raise your voice at your children, and what the reasons for yelling are. If you were to monitor yourself and record it in a spreadsheet, perhaps it might look like this:

what happens when you yell - sheet

There is power in creating a spreadsheet like this, regardless of the behaviour you wish to eliminate. Firstly, it helps to identify how often you act in a certain way, as well as the circumstances surrounding that behaviour. But the power comes in the fourth and fifth columns, as you consider the impact of your behaviour and look for alternative strategies to employ in the future.

This cognitive rehearsal strengthens the foundations of your new habit and helps to literall rewire your brain and establish new, more positive behaviour or thinking patterns.

The worst thing is that the scream has no turning back. Sometime it may happens you are feeling guilty for yelling at my child and we ask them for forgiveness for having lost their nerves and showing them affection, the damage is already done and nothing can remedy it.

It’s scientifically proved

What happens when you yell at a child

Many times you think “if all for a couple of screams, what will happen to you”, but it is scientifically proven the effects of screaming in childhood on children.

The University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan have collaborated in a joint study, published by the magazine Child Development , in which they have followed the behavior of almost a thousand families composed of father, mother and children between 13 and 14 years old.

45% of mothers and 42% of parents admitted that they had shouted and in some cases insulted their children. The researchers verified the effects of verbal violence on children and found that they had developed various behavioral problems in the following year compared with children who had not received screaming.

The problems range from discussions with classmates, difficulties in school performance, lies to parents, fights at school, shoplifting and symptoms of sudden sadness and depression.

The effects of screaming

All these behavior problems arise because the screams gradually undermine their self-esteem and self-confidence. Not to mention if insults are also used as “useless” or “vague”.

The child ends up believing that he is useless or lazy, or even more light labels that we usually put on as clumsy, stupid, etc.

The screams do not leave physical sequels, but psychological and emotional. Growing up with a familiar pattern where shouting is commonplace makes them insecure, withdrawn and end up believing that it is the only way to assert themselves, by screaming at another.

Avoid screaming is possible

What happens when you yell at a child

Nobody says that it is easy, especially when we have been educated in a house with shouting and when as a rule we started doing it with our own children as well.

But it’s never too late to modify behaviors that we recognize are harmful to our children. We want them and we want the best for them.

At times when we feel overwhelmed , in which we feel we are about to lose control and anger takes hold of us, we must stop before the volcano explodes.

In the first place, we must recognize anger in order to stop and control it.

In our paternity and maternity course as well as in Breeding without lashes that you can check in the link, we have given you a few examples and tools to be able to achieve it. Begin to communicate with our children in positive , with empathy and respect.

The important thing is to know that children can be educated in a different way, because screaming at children damages their self-esteem, leaving an indelible mark on them at a stage of life in which they are building their personality.


  • Shouting after your child has a negative impact on your self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • There are strategies to help you calm down when you’re about to scream at your child.
  • If you tend to scream after your child, many community organizations and the CLSC in your area can help you.