ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – Having a teenager can try your patience, but a new study says yelling at kids can have serious consequences.

This joint research from University of Michigan and the University of Pittsburgh found middle-class parents who yell at their teens are increasing their kids’ risk of depression and troubled behavior, even if their relationships are close.

U-M pediatrics professor Dr. Heather Burrows told WWJ Health Reporter Sean Lee that harsh verbal discipline can have the opposite effect of what parents intend.

“Children that had been exposed to more harsh verbal discipline engaged in more conduct disorder; more episodes of lying, cheating, stealing — more of the kinds of things that parents would’ve wanted them to not be doing,” Burrows said.

Burrows says, when you get really angry at your teen, it’s a good time to take a verbal time out.

“It’s OK to tell kids, ‘I’m really frustrated. You’re making me very upset right now. Your behavior isn’t one that I like. I need to take a break before we talk about it,’ and go take a time out yourself,” Burrows said. “Modeling that type of behavior is helpful for toddlers and it’s helpful for teenagers.”

Burrows said it’s a good idea to practice discussing sensitive topics before you actually bring them up with your teen, so everyone keeps their cool.

The study, “Longitudinal Links Between Fathers’ and Mothers’ Harsh Verbal Discipline and Adolescents’ Conduct Problems and Depressive Symptoms,” which appeared online in the journal Child Development on Sept. 4, is scheduled to appear in the March/April 2014 print issue of the journal. The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health.


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