Discipline and the Effects of Yelling at a Child

By Katie Weinstein

When it comes to verbal abuse, many people disregard it as a form of abuse because it is not as concrete as physical or sexual abuse, and it is more difficult to draw the line between verbal abuse and scolding. However, the effects of yelling and verbal abuse are just as detrimental and intense as any other type of abuse and can lead to depression and anxiety.

Being yelled at frequently increases the activity of the amygdala, which is the area of the brain that is responsible for emotions. This is because loud noises are signaled to the brain as a warning sign for danger. The amygdala increases stress hormones in the body, which increases muscular tension. These signals tell the body to fight, flight, or freeze, but none of these options are okay when a parent is yelling at a child since it isn’t acceptable to run away from a caregiver or fight them, which leaves the body to be in a stress condition with no purpose or function.  

There are long term effects of yelling at a child frequently since the brain develops neuronal pathways according to our experiences. If the child is conditioned to frequently respond to stressful situations, the child will develop pathways that activate a stress response quickly. Since negative interactions impact a person more than positive interactions, it affects our expectations and self-esteem drastically, especially if the yelling involves name calling, as well as behavior. One might think that yelling would get a child not engage in a specific behavior, but in reality yelling increases bad behavior due to stress and increased aggression as a result of a hyperactive amygdala, which may cause the parent to yell more. Since the child is constantly stressed, they are at risk for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, since yelling is not an effective communication style, the child may not learn to properly communicate, which can affect the child’s relationships in the future, leading to more problems down the road.

If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma from verbal abuse please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/




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