Why does my dad yell at me when I cry?

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In this blog we will try to answer the question “Why does my dad yell at me when I cry?”

We will also briefly explore how parents yelling can affect you and what you can do when your dad yells at you. 

Why does my dad yell at me when I cry?

Most probably the reason why your dad yells at you when you cry is because they are uncomfortable with emotions- be it their own as well as others.

Parents who tend to react aggressively- physically or verbally- when their children start crying do so because they do not know how to deal with their child’s emotional responses such as crying and even tantrums. 

They feel overwhelmed by the reaction and they do not have the skills to manage the feelings of their child and their own feelings effectively so instead of choosing to learn, they might react by yelling as a way to get the child to stop crying.

In short, they are ill-equipped when it comes to their own emotions and even more so in their ability to help their child regulate their emotions effectively so in order to get the child to stop crying, they might use verbal methods even if it is to instil fear in the child.  

Oftentimes, dads 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 so that they can get their child to stop crying. 

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.

More so when the yelling is done to get the child to stop expressing themselves emotionally- this can teach the child to internalise that being emotionally expressive is wrong leading to unhealthy ways of dealing with their emotions even later on in adulthood. 

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 such as their own emotional experiences. 

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. 

When it comes to yelling as a response to a child crying or a child being emotionally vulnerable in front of their parents, it teaches the child to internalise an idea and a negative belief about emotional expression. 

The child will begin to associate crying with something negative and thus begin to hide their emotions, suppress them, and even develop the idea that their emotions do not matter. 

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. 

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 dad yells at you?

Here are a few things you can do if your dad yells at you when you cry:

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 dad don’t know how to communicate healthily. 
  • It is not your fault that your dad is 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. 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 dad has 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 dad 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 dad, 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.

Conclusion

In this blog we have tried to answer the question “Why does my dad yell at me when I cry?”

We have also briefly explored how parents yelling can affect you and what you can do when your dad yells at you. 

FAQ related to why does my dad yell at me when I cry?

Why do parents get mad when their kids cry?

Most probably the reason why your dad yells at you when you cry is because they are uncomfortable with emotions- be it their own as well as others.

Parents who tend to react aggressively- physically or verbally- when their children start crying do so because they do not know how to deal with their child’s emotional responses such as crying and even tantrums

What do you do when your dad yells at you?

As difficult as it might seem to you, stay calm. If you retaliate, they might become even louder and more aggressive. Next, deal with your feelings by going to a safe space, be it your bedroom or your favourite bench in the nearby park.

Once your dad has 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. 

Is it OK to yell at a 3 year old?

It is never okay to yell at a 3 year old kid, or any kind and any individual for that matter of any age just to get a point across- even if it is for discipling,

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. 

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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