Washington, Sept. 05: Use of harsh verbal discipline- defined as shouting, cursing, or using insults- may be just as harmful to the long-term well-being of adolescents as the physical punishing, a new study has revealed.
The study led by Ming-Te Wang, assistant professor of psychology in education in the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education and of psychology in Pitt's Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has shown that a majority of parents use harsh verbal discipline at some point during their child's adolescence.
The researchers found that adolescents who had experienced harsh verbal discipline suffered from increased levels of depressive symptoms, and were more likely to demonstrate behavioral problems such as vandalism or antisocial and aggressive behavior.
Wang and Kenny found that the negative effects of verbal discipline within the two-year period of their study were comparable to the effects shown over the same period of time in other studies that focused on physical discipline.
Significantly, the researchers also found that "parental warmth"-i.e., the degree of love, emotional support, and affection between parents and adolescents-did not lessen the effects of the verbal discipline.
Even lapsing only occasionally into the use of harsh verbal discipline, said Wang, can still be harmful.
The authors also showed that harsh verbal discipline occurred more frequently in instances in which the child exhibited problem behaviors, and these same problem behaviors, in turn, were more likely to continue when adolescents received verbal discipline.
The researchers report that parents who wish to modify the behavior of their teenage children would be better advised to communicate with them on an equal level, explaining their worries and rationale to them.
The study was published in the journal Child Development. (ANI)