Is shouting at children as harmful as physical abuse? 

Shouting at children may seem like the solution, but it definitely doesn
Shouting at children may seem like the solution, but it definitely doesn't help. (Image via Vecteezy/ Nath Bunyapisitsopar)

One of the toughest roles that you may play as an individual is that of a parent. You may choose your own tools for discipline, and shouting at children may be one of them. However, remember that we have come very far from hitting and other forms of physical aggression towards children.

While there is no clear statistics to show this, punitive parenting has significantly decreased due to increased awareness about a child's well-being. According to a study published in Science Direct journal of Child Abuse and Neglect, verbal abuse leaves children more vulnerable to self-harm, drug abuse, and many other mental health conditions.

We develop our own ways of managing children, but shouting at children can have long-term consequences. (Image via Pexels/ Gustavo)
We develop our own ways of managing children, but shouting at children can have long-term consequences. (Image via Pexels/ Gustavo)

Is shouting at children as harmful as physically hurting them?

Yes shouting is often consistent with emotional experience of abuse. (Image via Freepik/ freepik)
Yes shouting is often consistent with emotional experience of abuse. (Image via Freepik/ freepik)

While there isn't a clear measure of which form of abuse is worse, shouting at children, especially in the long term, is a form of abuse. This may come off as surprising to many people since we have all grown with the understanding that children need to be punished for wrong actions and rewarded for pleasant ones.

You'll be surprised to know that the emotional abuse in this case is stronger than physical abuse. However, even when you can't see the wounds, it doesn't mean they don't exist. Many clients who seek therapy are often dealing with the hurtful words that their parents used, perhaps years ago.

In fact, "You are good for nothing", "You can't get this right" and "Are you even my child?" - these words can cut anyone's heart. Unfortunately, the frustration in the moment is so high that many parents continue to use authority and keep up with the practice of shouting at children.


Cannot stop shouting at children? Here's what you can do about it

While it may seem temporary, shouting at children has more permanent effects. (Image via Freepik/ user15285612)
While it may seem temporary, shouting at children has more permanent effects. (Image via Freepik/ user15285612)

As a parent, you are bound to relieve the anger in one form or another. Shouting at a child may result in both short-term and long-term psychological effects. Parents impact their children's mental health in many ways. In the short term, a child may become aggressive, anxious, and withdrawn, but in the long run, they may develop anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, and a negative view of themselves.

They may experience social or behavioral problems and exhibit bullying behavior and aggression as well. When you are angry, try to respond and not react to the situation. This is a tough one and can take a lot of practice. Before using certain words, think about how they may affect your children in the long run and how that would impact your relationship with them.

If you think that these words are not yours but rather come from your own childhood traumatic experiences, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. Your experiences are constantly intertwining with your child's, but they don't have to disrupt their development.


Parenting can at times be stressful, and for a lot of people, when they feel angry and frustrated and don't know what to do anymore, they may start shouting and screaming at their children. However, yelling is not the solution. It may not even work, especially if your child or children are experiencing heightened emotions.

More importantly, it can leave marks that may haunt them even when they grow up. Shouting at children is a common practice. However, its commonality does not mean that it is okay to engage in it.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.


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Edited by Susrita Das