When a parent loses it, I mean really loses it, anything can come out of their mouth. When you yell at your child, swear at them, or call them names, it is oftentimes more destructive than striking your child. The bruises heal; the words reverberate in their mind for decades. I can’t tell you the number of adult clients I have sat with who quoted something a parent yelled or swore or a name they were called in their childhood that they replay in their mind in some fashion weekly, if not daily.

You cannot not communicate.

I’ll never forget that axiom from graduate school. It took me five minutes to fully wrap my brain around it and understand its implications. Since then, it has become a cornerstone of understanding that everything – and I mean everything – communicates. These communications, verbal or not, are picked up and repeated by your child in various ways, possibly for the rest of their lives.

Yelling, swearing at, and calling a child names is considered by many to be abusive. If you are a parent who is doing this, you lack boundaries and self-control. It is always your job as the parent to manage your own emotions and how you express them. Children are resilient, but they are not your emotional whipping post.

How it affects your child

When you yell at your child, or swear at them, or call them names on a regular basis, you attack their sense of self. Your child begins to believe they are worthless, not good enough, unlovable, a failure as a human being, and not any better than the dirt on the bottom of their shoes. This happens because they begin to believe these fallacies and use them against themselves.

The next time you yell at your child, maybe you should try crying with them instead and asking for their forgiveness.


Todd has been a therapist for over 20 years in a variety of settings. An unconventional therapist who tells the truth, Todd has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, and authored his first book, Simply Relate.

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