Parent’s plea for advice leads to debate over if shouting is a form of child abuse

Do you think shouting is a form of child abuse? When one parent asked how to stop their daughter from crying every time they got told off and shouted at, she was accused of being abusive.

Taking to the online forum website Quora, the parent wrote: ‘How do I teach my 16-year-old daughter not to cry when I yell at her for doing something wrong?’

The question sparked a flurry of responses, many of which accuse the parent of taking the wrong approach to parenting.

One person said: ‘First off, chances are almost 100% that if your daughter did something wrong, YOU are at fault. She is a product of YOUR teaching, YOUR example.’

They continued to suggest that the parent find a different way of disciplining their daughter, and think about how they can change their own behaviour rather than focusing on their daughter’s naturally emotional response.

They said: ‘Stop laying blame, realise we yell because we are tired, confused, afraid. Yelling relieves a tiny bit of frustration, but it causes a lot more pain, and does NOTHING but set you back. It discourages willingness to listen, or learn, or change.

‘Hold your tongue and find a way to say what needs to be said in a way that will help, so maybe you will have less to yell about. No yelling, no tears.’

Other users were less empathetic and suggested that shouting at a child is similar to child abuse, and in many ways is more hurtful than a physical reprimand.

One person said: ‘I’m sorry for jumping down your throat, but if you are really YELLING, that has to stop immediately. That’s verbal abuse, especially if you throw some choice language into the mix.’

parent shouting

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Another wrote: ‘Every time you yell at her, you might as well be slapping her across the face.’

Several people questioned why you would want to encourage your child to suppress their emotions.

One said: ‘Why do you want her to stop crying? Crying is an effective and useful response to violence. You are perpetuating violence and she is acting as a human.’

Some users did try to help and offered advice based on their own experiences as a child. One person detailed how suffocating it was to have a mother who was constantly critical and always resorted to shouting whenever she wanted to communicate something negative.

The user said: ‘My suggestion is to be patient with her. She WILL outgrow this. If you don’t already do so, balance your feedback with loving praise…

‘Try to be gentle — teenagers are tough — and always emphasise your feedback comes from a place of love. Try to remember what you felt like at that age and respect the process of her growth.’

Parenting expert and director of Parent 4 Success Elizabeth O’Shea stresses that shouting simply isn’t an effective parenting tool, despite being a knee-jerk reaction when your child does something wrong.

She explains: ‘Adults are hard-wired to notice the negative things children do. We tend to ignore them when they behave (well, that’s what they should be doing! Right?) and tell them off when they do the wrong thing. Isn’t that lousy?’

parent shouting at child

Shouting is not an effective parenting tool according to Elizabeth

Instead, Elizabeth suggests thinking before you shout but if you must, it’s important to repair the damage soon after.

Elizabeth said: ‘It’s much better not to shout. Just think for a moment, how would you like a boss to shout at you? Children are not motivated by shouting. It stops them thinking straight. They get upset and defensive.

‘What’s also interesting is they are more likely to repeat the behaviour you shouted at them for… If you do shout, it’s good to repair the damage, by apologising and having a quiet chat with your child when things have calmed down.’

Elizabeth reiterates that it’s normal to shout and parents are human after-all.

She stresses: ‘However, no one is perfect. Most parents find themselves shouting from time to time. It’s just not effective at changing children’s behaviour.’

What do you think of the debate? Could the Quora users have been more insightful and offered better advice or were they right to correct the parent? Let us know your thoughts by heading to our Facebook page and joining the conversation.