Sunday, November 1, 2009

Is Yelling the new Spanking?

How many times a week do you yell at your kids? Some experts say yelling is the new spanking. Many parents these days have chosen not to spank after several studies showing it causes psychological damage. Does yelling do the same thing? If so, I'm in trouble. I do try not to scream at the kids, but it happens sometimes. I don't believe any parent who says time outs always do the trick. However, after reading this article, I will pay closer attention to how loud I am disciplining the kids. I won't aim for "never" yelling, but I will certainly think about it and step out of the room more often.

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES:Numerous studies exist on the effect of corporal punishment on children. A new one came out just last month. Led by a researcher at Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy, the study concluded that spanking children when they are very young (1-year-old) can slow their intellectual development and lead to aggressive behavior as they grow older. But there is far less data on the more common habit of shouting and screaming in families.

One study that did take a look at the topic — a paper on the “psychological aggression by American parents” published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in 2003 — found that parental yelling was a near-universal occurrence. Of 991 families interviewed, in 88 percent of them a parent acknowledged shouting, screaming or yelling at the kids at least once (though it didn’t specify how many did it more often) in the previous year.

“We are so accustomed to this that we just think parents get carried away and that it’s not harmful,” said one of the study’s lead authors, Murray A. Straus, a sociologist who is a director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. “But it affects a child. If someone yelled at you at work, you’d find that pretty jarring. We don’t apply that standard to children.”

Psychologists and psychiatrists generally say yelling should be avoided. It’s at best ineffective (the more you do it the more the child tunes it out) and at worse damaging to a child’s sense of well-being and self-esteem.

“It isn’t the yelling per se that’s going to make a difference, it’s how the yelling is interpreted,” said Ronald P. Rohner, director of the Ronald and Nancy Rohner Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut. If a parent is simply loud, he says, the effect is minimal. But if the tone connotes anger, insult or sarcasm, it can be perceived as a sign of rejection.

Professor Rohner noted that while spanking is considered taboo by the major medical and psychological associations, there are still some religious and conservative groups who support it as an effective disciplinary tool, believing that the Bible explicitly allows it.
-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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