The Impact of “Harsh Verbal Discipline” on Teenagers

Are you experiencing conflict with your teenager?  If so, here are some things NOT to do.

USA today is reporting on a a new study that looks at “harsh verbal discipline,” which includes such things as shouting at teens, yelling, screaming, swearing, insulting or calling them names.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say such tactics backfire, actually increasing the risk that teens will misbehave.  In fact, in some cases harsh verbal discipline may even lead teens to experience symptoms of depression.

The study’s author, Dr. Ming-Te Wang says “This may explain why so many parents say that no matter how loud they shout, their teenagers don’t listen.”

Wang and his colleagues found that thirteen-year-olds who received a lot of harsh verbal discipline from their parents were more likely to have symptoms of depression at age 14.  They were also more likely to exhibit problem behaviors such as anger, aggression, vandalism and misconduct.

Psychologists who work with teens and their families say parents should carefully consider the implications of these findings.

Neil Bernstein, an adolescent psychologist in Washington, D.C., is the author of How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do if You Can’t.

He says “Extremes of parenting don’t work. The put-down parent is no more effective than the laissez-faire parent who is totally chill and sets no limits on their children’s behavior.”

Bernstein says, when it comes to rearing teens, the keys are good communication, love and limits.”

By the way, of my favorite books on raising teens from a Christian perspective is “Boundaries with Teens,” by Dr. John Townsend.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.