Health & wellness

Be Well

Harsh verbal discipline may worsen teen behavior

Harsh verbal
discipline may
worsen teen behavior

Yelling at teens to discipline them may have the unintended effect of increasing their behavior problems, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan found. According to their study, an estimated 90 percent of parents have reported using harsh verbal reprimanding techniques on children, such as humiliating them, in an effort to improve their behavior.

Nearly 1,000 two-parent families and their adolescent children completed surveys over a two-year period on their mental health, their family relationships, and the parents’ child-raising practices. At ages 13 and 14, the teens were surveyed about their behavior in school and at home.

The children in the study who showed behavior problems at 13 were more likely to be exposed to harsh verbal discipline from their parents. The study found that parents who reported using harsh verbal discipline when their teens were 13 were more likely to have teens who showed symptoms of depression during their early teen years and who had behavior problems in school and at home, compared with parents who did not use that discipline technique.


The rise in anger levels among the parents may lead to a rise in anger and irritability in the teens, the researchers wrote.

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BOTTOM LINE: Yelling at teens to discipline them may instead increase their behavior problems.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on self-reported survey results from the participants, which may not be accurate.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Child Development, Sept. 4

Risk of falling rises
after stressful events

Men over 65 who have experienced stressful life events such as the death of a loved one or financial problems are at increased risk for falling in the year following the event, a nationwide study found.


Researchers at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis had about 5,000 older men who had experienced a bone fracture complete a survey about stressful life events in the year before their injury, and contacted the men every four months for one year after to see whether they experienced any falls or fractures.

Thirty percent of the men who reported one stressful event within the past year suffered a fall, compared with 40 percent of those who reported three or more stressful events. However, the risk of injury or fractures was not associated with stressful events.

Stressful events may trigger a hormone response that causes loss of muscle mass or impaired physical ability, which could result in a fall, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Men over 65 who have experienced stressful life events are at increased risk for falling in the following year.

CAUTIONS: The study cannot confirm a cause and effect relationship between stressful life events and falls. The authors defined certain events as stressful, but every participant may not have considered these events stressful.


WHERE TO FIND IT: Age and Ageing, Sept. 3

Lara Salahi