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Psychological Effects of Yelling at a Child

7 Psychological Effects of Yelling at a Child

Often, children think their parents are super humans and don’t have emotions at all. Just like other human beings, parents do have emotions and at times they are carried away by them. They can get mad to the point that they forget themselves and end up yelling at their children. In addition to yelling, they can even hit them. This is expected of any human being but it’s more important to be aware of the psychological effects of yelling at a child.

Yelling has and will never solve an issue. Children will stop what they are doing when they have been yelled at, but it’s only for a matter of time. At some point in our lives, we were children, and reflecting on how we behaved, something can be understood. This is why we would go back to doing something even after being warned about it. This is something in a child’s nature.

To best solve the issue, calmness, patience, and love have to be shown to a child. This way they will refrain from unwanted behavior on their own. As much as they can be stubborn, they can be quite what a parent would wish them to be. Instead of solving an issue, yelling will worsen the situation. It’s also detrimental in the perspective that children are psychologically affected when they are yelled at.   

Why do Parents Yell at Their Children 

The answer to this question is very short: they are angry. This is also the primary reason anybody else would yell at someone else. Feeling overwhelmed is a feeling that can best be relieved by yelling or perhaps shouting at the source. As much as parents can do their best in managing their emotions, at some point it becomes impossible. This is the moment they let it out by yelling.  

Yelling is only effective in the short run since one will forget about it and repeat the behavior. Children learn from the environment and the people they socialize with. When a child is born, they are fearless, courageous, and full of confidence. Since fear is something that is learned, the moment they are yelled at, they become afraid and start fearing their parents. They will only fear them when they are around. This means they will do what is expected when parents are within.

Psychological Effects of Yelling at a Child

Anything that can be learned can be unlearned. Eventually, a child will unlearn to fear the parents and do what he or she likes. This is the reason yelling is not an effective long-term way of dealing with unwanted behavior.

Related: How to Stop a Child from Screaming for No Reason

Psychological Effects of Yelling at a Child  

At times, it becomes impossible for a parent to refrain from yelling at a child. Although yelling at children might seem okay to many parents, it’s not. There are various short and long-term effects of yelling at a child. Regardless of whether they are babies, toddlers, or teens, it is detrimental psychologically.  

1. Low-Self Esteem 

Yelling at a child and low self-esteem go hand in hand. Children’s self-confidence can easily be brought down by constant yelling. When a child does something and they are yelled at, what they hear is that they aren’t good enough. No matter how confident they were while doing it, their confidence level will drop. This is regardless of how perfectly they did it.

Yelling lowers a child’s self-esteem and they will feel negative about themselves. They will lack confidence in what they do. Even after doing something, they will have doubts and become critical of themselves.

2. Aggression 

Children can get angry. When you attack a person, they will most probably defend themselves and if they won’t, they will be hurt. When children are yelled at, they might yell back. If this doesn’t, they will be hurt. By being hurt, hatred gradually builds up and eventually turns into aggression.

This happens over some time and it’s among the long-term effects of yelling at a child. At times, it can be difficult for a child to control their feelings of anger and might act violently.

3. Asociality

A child who has been yelled at for a prolonged period eventually becomes asocial. This means they end up being unmotivated to engage in social interactions. They don’t want any loud voice enough to sound like yelling.

Children tend to yell and scream while playing and this is a nightmare for a child who is psychologically affected by yelling. They are scared of yells. It’s due to this they wouldn’t wish to interact with other children. Eventually, this becomes a social problem that is difficult to deal with.

4. Depression 

Among the psychological effects of yelling at a child is depression. Yelling at a child results in him or her feeling empty and sad. These feelings of emptiness and sadness as well as loss of joy are signs of depression. Family is among the causes of depression. In this case, yelling will be the element that causes this mood disorder.

Research shows that between 2016 and 2019, depression and anxiety in children increased. Over this period, approx. 2.7 million (4.4%) of children between the age of three and 17 years were diagnosed with depression. Over the next years, this number is projected to increase as most of the causes are unknown.

5. Bullying 

80% of what children learn is through observation. When they are yelled at, they end up knowing that it’s okay to yell at someone.

If this issue is not addressed, children will end up yelling at others and eventually bullying them. This bullying behavior is encouraged by the fact that a child is yelled at and no action is taken to curb it.

6. Brain Development Alterations 

Research has shown that exposure to child abuse (abusive language) negatively affects the development of the auditory association cortex. This is proof that yelling does affect a child’s brain development.

As the brain processes these negative life events, a lot of processes take place in the child’s mind. As a result, a child is psychologically affected by the experience.

7. Increased Behavioral Problems  

After yelling at children, parents expect the behavior to change instantaneously. This does happen but eventually, the child will go back to his or her initial behavior.

This time, it will be different in that it will be more intense. Children will react to their parent’s actions and eventually increase the level of misbehavior.

Psychological Effects of Yelling at a Child

What to do Instead of Yelling at a Child 

Both the long-term and short-term psychological effects of yelling at a child are not worth it. Below are some effective alternatives to yelling.

Communicate calmly. Nothing is more effective than having a talk at a friendly level. The message is passed clearly and questions asked to clarify anything that was missed or misunderstood. Children can understand something when communicated accordingly. Instead of yelling at them to change their behavior, talk with them.

Sit down with them after dinner or have a walk in the park and tell them what you expect. This way, they will understand you better and follow your words. Also, a healthy relationship will be developed.

Timeout. When you feel like yelling at a child, distance yourself from the situation. So before the situation gets out of hand, get away from the conflict zone by stepping outside or going to your room. This will give you time to control your anger.

Taking deep breaths can also be helpful in dropping the trigger.

Positive reinforcement. Child behavior is what makes one want to yell at them. Instead of yelling at them, it would be better to encourage the expected behavior. This can be done through positive reinforcement.

With positive reinforcement, children will be rewarded when they exhibit the expected behavior. Once they get hold of this, it will be difficult for them to misbehave. They will try as much as possible to do what is expected of them so that they can be rewarded. The reward doesn’t have to be something expensive. It can be praising them or adding an extra 30-minutes to their using playtime.


Yelling is never a solution to anything. It only offers a short-while solution and the source is never addressed. It’s not a way to communicate with a child since it affects young ones psychologically. If it’s not addressed, it will affect them even in their adulthood. At this point, nothing much can be done to mend the damage. It’s better to prevent and take care of it while someone is still young.

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