Lower The Lung Power

Sometimes, yelling just feels sooooooo good.

It’s cathartic. Dudes, I’m telling you that, sometimes when I’m screaming, I can feel the tension rushing out my body, through the lungs and vanishing into the echoes.

Screaming my lungs out at a football game not only helps support my team (Go, Gators!), but also helps me to feel a part of something greater, something louder, something (slightly) more obnoxious than myself.

Yelling at my young dudes, though. . . Not so good.

I understand the attraction. I’ve given in to the desire to just release that anger and frustration through yelling at the young dudes. I’ve never thought well of myself after, though. Even as I was doing it, I knew it was wrong. Mostly I managed to stop, take a step back and grab a (not-so-metaphorical) breath.

Mostly.

Yelling at your young dudes never accomplishes anything. Well, anything worthwhile. It can certainly accomplish the not-so-arduous task of making you look like an idiot and making your child feel small, worthless and horrible.

I think we can all agree that this is not a desirable outcome.

In a recent post, Salynn Boyles, a contributing writer for the blog site MedPage Today, writes about how yelling at your children has a quantifiable bad result.

Parents who yell, insult, or swear in an effort to correct bad behavior may perpetuate the behavior and increase a child’s risk for depression, new research suggests.

Unfortunately, parents yelling at their children isn’t a rare thing. In the study, researchers reported that nearly half of all parents (45% to 46% of moms and 42% to 43% of dads) said they used what it euphemistically called verbal discipline with their 13- and 14-year-old children. Mostly, we’d just call it yelling at the kids.

Using a cross-lagged model, the research showed that higher exposure to harsh verbal discipline at age 13 predicted increased adolescent behavior problems between the ages of 13 and 14 (beta=0.12 and 0.11; P<0.001), lead researcher and behavioral psychologistMing-Te Wang, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues, wrote in the Sept. 4 issue of the journal Child Development.

Higher exposure to parental yelling and other forms of harsh verbal discipline at age 13 predicted increased depressive symptoms between the ages of 13 and 14 (beta=0.16 and 0.14;P<0.001).

Well, sure. I mean, if you got yelled at by your mom or dad when you were that age, I’m pretty sure you would have been at least a little depressed. I mean, what is the young dude or dudette supposed to thing? Their parent is screaming at them over some behavior. . . Obviously the young one is a miserable excuse for a human being.

Remember, teenagers aren’t known for their ability to successfully think their way out of a wet paper bag. Add in a healthy dollop of emotional overreaction and you’ve got a recipe for feeling horrible. Which, unfortunately, is something that doesn’t go away as easily as it was brought on.

Psychologist Nadine Kaslow, PhD, who is president elect of the American Psychological Association and who was not involved in the study, said the findings highlight the futility and potential harms of reacting to adolescent behavioral issues with harsh verbal discipline.

Kaslow is the chief psychologist at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and a professor of psychiatry at Atlanta’s Emory University School of Medicine.

“It sends the message that when you are mad or upset or scared, yelling is the way to deal with it,” she told MedPage Today. ”That is the opposite of the message parents should be sending. Also, shouting and yelling doesn’t really work. It may stop the behavior for a while, but the child will probably be exhibiting the same behavior within an hour or two.”

And, yet, there are those parents who choose yelling at their kids as a peaceful alternative to hitting the young dudes and dudettes. I’m not sure how either of these things could possibly be seen as a better scenario.

The big takeaway from this article, other than the idea that you shouldn’t scream at a misbehaving child since it doesn’t actually work to decrease non-desired behavior, is that it’s better to work with your child, rather than directly imposing your will on him or her.

“Our results support a transactional model of parent-child interaction and suggest that any intervention efforts to reduce both harsh verbal discipline and conduct problems will need to target both the parents and the child,” the researchers concluded.

The next time you feel like you’re about to let loose, try and swallow it, dudes. Save it for the stadium, where it’s a good thing. Instead, take that breath and talk to your teen. You won’t regret it.

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