By Meg Meeker, M.D.
Kids who are yelled at by their parents are more likely to have depression and behavior problems, a new study in Child Development finds. This is no surprise, so why do a study? I think we need studies like this so that academics can remind us parents to take our jobs seriously. I know that I do.
Words cut deeply—particularly the words that flow from a parent’s mouth to a child—whether that child is 6 or 66.
We listen to what our parents say to us because this is how we figure out who we are. We are wired this way from birth. As young children we scour our parents’ faces to figure out if they like what we are wearing, if they think the picture we colored is good enough, or if they like how fast we run on the soccer field. If they communicate that they like what they see, then we believe we are good. If they never pay attention to or berate us, then we believe we are no good. That’s how simple life is for a child. Even as adults, we never stop listening to our parents, because we are connected to them by a need-based love.
So when a parent screams at a child, the pain cuts deeply. Some parenting experts say that kids don’t hear parents scream because they tune them out. I completely disagree. Kids hear alright; they just pretend not to hear because they simply don’t know what to do with the hurt.