How a child is treated by the person who raises him can make all the difference in what type of life he’ll lead. A new study says that if one was raised with criticism, yelling, or threats, he’s more likely to be anxious or depressed as a young adult. Once a person is thus affected, his likelihood to become involved in substance abuse increases, as he may turn to drugs and alcohol to mask pain and discomfort. Research does indeed indicate that those with anxiety disorders are two to three times more likely than the general population to have an alcohol or other substance abuse disorder at some point in their lives.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH YELLING?
Research has linked verbally aggressive parenting to changes in children’s brain development and to personality disorders later in life.
Researchers found that even if another parent (or that same parent) expressed plenty of affection, the harmful effects of having a verbally aggressive mother or father persisted.
Being raised with yelling can be as damaging as actual physical abuse.
Meghan Leahy, a mother of three and a local parenting coach told the Washington Post, “If you yell at your child, you either create somebody who yells back at you or someone who is shamed and retreats.You’re either growing aggression or growing shame.”
The good news is that children CAN AND WILL behave without yelling, hitting, threats, and bribes. Here are some tips to help you discipline in a positive and productive way:
- If a child is acting out, something’s wrong. Look beneath the surface to see the cause. Does he need attention? Is he feeling jealous? Are we expecting behaviors from him that are not age-appropriate and he is not yet capable of? Ask yourself what you can you do to help satisfy your child’s need.
- Children learn how to cope with stress from how their parents cope with stress. Your positive example will be more powerful than your loudest yell, so focus on controlling yourself—not your child.
- When your child does something bad, it is an opportunity for you to teach a value. Lovingly, gently, and sternly convey that while he may have had a reason to act that way, the behavior is not acceptable. Take this time to explain why what he did is damaging. Help him come up with alternatives to his actions, so that he can solve this type of problem differently in the future. This can also be an opportune moment to teach empathy.
- Children often act up because they want your attention, so sometimes it pays to ignore the behaviors you wish to eliminate. Think of your attention as vitamins, nourishing and growing that which you focus on. As the lyrics of a popular song go, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.”
- The best reward for a kid is time with his parents. This time also helps to raise a happy, well-behaved child. Spend a few minutes connecting one-on-one with your child every day by joining him doing something he likes.
- Bribes send the message that good conduct is not rewarding by itself, so take that tool out of your parenting tool belt. Rather highlight what constructive consequences will result and have resulted from positive behavior.
- When your child is misbehaving, redirect your child’s energy to a more acceptable, fun activity. Get creative!
Some of the information in this article was adapted from the following sites: PBS.org, Slate.com, ADAA.org, ABCNews.org, reutershealth.com