Why do I cry when my parents yell at me?

In this blog we will discuss the question “Why do I cry when my parents yell at me?”

We will also explore issues related to why parents yell, how it affects you, and what you can do if parents yell at you. 

Why do I cry when my parents yell at me?

Most children cry when they are being yelled at by their parents because they are either hurt or they are scared. 

Being yelled at is scary, and confusing even when it comes from someone who is your parent- you sole provider and the individual who is supposed to care and protect you. 

Most parents don’t understand that yelling borders on abuse and that it has terrible consequences on the child’s- your’ development and believes that yelling is one way to get the children to listen. 

Yelling does not guarantee the message is being understood or the message being communicated across clearly. It is far from that, instead the only message that is being sent across are negatives about the child themselves. 

The reason why being yelled makes someone cry is because it is scary. The volume is loud, the tone is shrill, the face of your parents is different- not like how you usually see them- oftentimes you might not even recognise them when they are angry and yelling at you. 

You also get hurt because of what they say when they yell at you, you might feel like they hate you or the insults they send your way hurt you and oftentimes, along with this hurt comes the fear of not knowing what will trigger them off to yell at you again. 

It is scary because you feel threatened and often, because these feelings are so overwhelming, your emotions spill out in terms of tears and crying. 

Why do parents yell?

Probably the reason why parents yell at their children is because they feel overwhelmed by their own lives and they do not have the skills to manage these feelings effectively. 

In short, they are ill-equipped when it comes to their own emotions and even more so in their ability to communicate effectively. 

Oftentimes, parents like all human beings notice that yelling gets the children to listen or do what they want- such as become quieter, put on shoes, go to school etc- and like every individual out there, it becomes a learned behaviour and they use yelling more frequently. 

However, these parents often do not realise that this particularly ineffective parenting technique that borders on abuse does not do a good job in parenting a child, in fact, the impact of yelling on children is very negative.

Most parents who yell, you will notice are often parents who are stressed out with work or lack of, with the direction of their lives and their relationships, and in some because they are under the influence of substances. 

It is often the stress of their own lives that they are ill-equipped to manage simply because they don’t know how to manage stress that leads them to yell at their own children. 

Oftentimes because they simply are unable to keep their anger and frustration from bubbling out in some cases, because it allows them to have some control over a part of their lives. 

How does parents yelling affect you?

The effect yelling or verbal abuse has on children is very less understood or known because of the misconception that yelling is not a form of abuse.

However, with plenty of research that has been done on yelling- by parents on children or random strangers on to other people- it has become much clearer that yelling does have an effect on the individual not just in terms of psychology but also in brain activity. 

The NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, explained that when an individual is being yelled at frequently there is a potential of the brain being affected. Specifically, the activity of the amygdala being affected leading to a rise in stress hormone cortisol. 

When there is a rise in the levels of cortisol in the body, the effect of it is noticeable- it impacts the individual in terms of physiologically, mentally, and emotionally. 

These changes manifest in children in the way they think, feel, and behave towards themselves as well as towards other people- and this often persists into adulthood. 

Yelling by parents onto children often leads to the threats of two of the fundamental psychological needs according to Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist- the need for safety and security as well as the need for love and belongingness. 

It is this that impacts an individual’s healthy development into individuals that are well rounded and secure in the way they lead lives. These negative experiences of being yelled at also form negative cognitive schemas and beliefs about one’s self that often leads to the child struggling with self esteem issues, issues related to attachment that manifest in adult relationships, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. 

Yelling does not guarantee the message is being understood or the message being communicated across clearly. It is far from that, instead the only message that is being sent across are negatives about the child themselves. 

According to a study done on the parenting styles of an international population and it’s impact on child behavior, it has been observed that yelling and other forms of corporal punishment in parenting had dire impact on the child.

The results being that yelling were found to be related to more aggression- physically and verbally- in the child themselves towards other people around them. This could be explained by a lot of things, one being that children model behaviour of individuals around them who are significant to them- such as parents. 

When the yelling includes put downs and criticisms related to the child’s character, abilities, worth etc such as “You are stupid.” “you are good for nothing” etc- it counts as emotional abuse and there has been plenty of research that illustrates that emotional abuse has a direct impact on the child’s psychological health. 

What to do when parents yell at you?

Here are a few things you can do if your parents yell at you:

As difficult as it might seem to you, stay calm. If you retaliate, they might become even louder and more aggressive. So for your own well-being, stay calm. A few things you can do to stay calm is to focus on your breath and count to a hundred in your mind. 

Once the yelling has stopped and they have retreated, create some mental and emotional boundaries. Here are a few things for you to remind yourself of these boundaries:

  • You don’t deserve to be yelled at, no matter what the case- no matter if you made some mistakes. You do not deserve verbal abuse.
  • You are not the reason your parents don’t know how to communicate healthily. 
  • It is not your fault that your parents are so angry, the way they feel and the way they express these feelings are not your responsibility. 
  • Make a mental note for what you are responsible for: your behaviour.

Next, deal with your feelings by going to a safe space, be it your bedroom or your favourite bench in the nearby park. Take your feelings with you- those painful and difficult feelings- and acknowledge them.

It is okay for you to feel afraid and scared and even angry. It is okay to even feel guilty for what just happened. Once you allow yourself to feel without judging yourself for them, remind yourself of the boundaries above. 

Do something that makes you feel good, something that is helpful for you. So that means that just because it feels good, does not mean you go and break the neighbours flower pots- that does not help you, that only hurts you more because the consequences will not be pretty. 

So do something that really calms you down, that lets you be yourself- be it listening to music, watching a movie, skating across the park, or playing with your pet dog. Allow yourself to feel good and calmer. 

Once your parents have become clamer, it is possible that they might come to you with an apology for behaviour that way. It is here that you also open up to them, if you think it is safe to do so. 

Let them know how you feel when they yell at you while also letting them know that you acknowledge your behaviours and that you are sorry for something you might have done to trigger them off. 

However, remember that you do not deserve to be yelled at as you make it clear to them that you felt hurt and would like your parents to consider the possibility that they can talk to you in a healthier way. 

Now, this particular confrontation between parent and child is not always the case- some parents do not provide safe spaces for their children and if you find yourself in this situation, talk to someone you trust.

If you have a trusted friend, relative, neighbour, or a school counsellor. Let them know what is happening at home. You might be worried that they will tell your parents, so make it clear that you only want support and if you do want confrontation, let them know that too. If you need support, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

If things are getting intense and the yelling is starting to become more violent and even more physically abusive, talk to someone. Reach out for help immediately, consider reaching out to child support hotlines if needed or emergency services.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed the question “Why do I cry when my parents yell at me?”

We also explored issues related to why parents yell, how it affects you, and what you can do if parents yell at you. 

Is it okay to cry when your parents yell at you?

It is completely okay to cry when you are being yelled at. It is a natural response to stress and threat. However, you have to understand that yelling at children is now considered a form of verbal abuse, if it is possible for you to get help, seek help. 

Is it normal for your parents to make you cry?

No. if your parents are deliberately making you cry doing things that hurt you such as insult you, hit you, criticise you unsolicited- that is a form of emotional abuse. 

Is it OK to yell at a 3 year old?

It is NEVER okay to yell at a child, a teenager, infact, it is never okay to yell in general. Yelling never puts the message across clearly. The effect yelling or verbal abuse has on children is very less understood or known because of the misconception that yelling is not a form of abuse.

However, with plenty of research that has been done on yelling- by parents on children or random strangers on to other people- it has become much clearer that yelling does have an effect on the individual not jsy in terms of psychology but also in brain activity. 


References

How to deal with your parents fighting all the time. Reachout. Retrieved on 13th feb 2022. https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-deal-with-your-parents-fighting-all-the-time

Hendell.H.J. The Problem with Yelling. NAMI. Retrieved on 13th Feb 2022. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2018/The-Problem-with-Yelling

Why Do I Cry Every Time My Parents Yell at Me? Sleep Baby. Retrieved on 13th Feb 2022. https://sleepbaby.org/why-do-i-cry-every-time-my-parents-yell-at-me/

Ginta.m. The Long-Lasting Effects of Yelling at Your Kids. Healthline retrieved on 13th Feb 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/yelling-at-kids

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