Dr. Helen

"Discipline doesn't break a child's spirit half as often as the lack of it breaks a parent's heart."

The above quote is by “annonymous” and I read it in a memoirs book recently. I thought about the quote as I read this article from the WSJ entitled “Study Says Yelling Is As Hurtful as Hitting”:

Parents who yell at their adolescent children for misbehaving can cause some of the same problems as hitting them would, including increased risk of depression and aggressive behavior, according to a new study.

A good, warm relationship with Mom and Dad doesn’t protect teens from the negative effects of parents’ yelling, cursing or lobbing insults, such as calling teens “lazy” or “stupid,” the study found. Conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan, the study was published Wednesday on the journal Child Development’s website.

While spanking has become taboo in many U.S. communities, yelling doesn’t have nearly the same social stigma. Indeed, parents sometimes think yelling will make their charges listen and behave. But the study found the opposite to be true.

As some of the commenters to the article point out, often researchers don’t seem to distinguish between yelling insults (this is not generally effective) and raising one’s voice harshly to make a point. It seems that “experts” lean more and more towards studies showing that no discipline works except something like “time-out” or taking away privileges. Pretty soon, all discipline will be said to be “useless.” Without discipline, kids have no guide as to what is right or wrong, or how to solve a problem, or stay out of trouble. Some kids need a firm hand, others not as much but to say that certain types of discipline are always wrong because they are disagreeable to a bunch of “experts” is harmful. But as long as the researchers feel good about themselves and the state agrees, they will continue to chip away at parental control.