Screams Damage the Infant Brain

Screams Damage the Infant Brain

Last update: 16 November, 2017

“Through ignorance we descend into servitude, through education we ascend to freedom”  Diego Luis de Cordoba once said. However, education has little to do with imposition of knowledge by force, and even less to do with screaming. In fact, screaming can cause significant damage to the infant brain.

Shouting is not an effective way to get others to listen to you, this is indicated by several studies. Furthermore, we often scream at others as a way to release our own frustration, not to impart information. This is especially true when it comes to children, as they do not learn through yelling.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin 

Empty cries

Authors, like Aaron James, claim that shouting more does not make you more right, nor does it give you a position of advantage in an argument. This has been confirmed in several studies, even one referring to the current president of the United States, Donald Trump. If we want to appear correct, screaming will not help us. Reason, not yelling, will win an argument.

screams damage infant brain

Usually, one screams when they lose control. Therefor, this is the message people get when you scream – that you have lost control and given in to your emotions. Screaming actually detracts from the words you are trying to say.

Effects of screaming on children

Now, according to a new study published by the University of Pittsburgh, regularly screaming or yelling at an infant has a good number of risks for their psychological development. 

That is to say that all those who use shouting to control or scold their child are increasing the risk of developmental problems in their child. Children who are yelled at often may learn to respond with aggressive or defensive behavior. 

The study involved almost 1,000 families with children between one and two years old.  The study found that children who were yelled at often were more likely to show depressive symptoms and behavioral problems during their adolescence. 

In fact, they found that yelling does not minimize problems, it aggravates them. For example, it can make children more disobedient. Meanwhile, parents who adopt a warmer attitude with their children minimize the negative affects of the few times when they do yell.

Further study

There are many more studies in this area. Harvard’s department of psychiatry affirms that verbal abuse, screaming, humiliation, or a combination of the three can all permanently alter a child’s cerebral structure. 

After analyzing more than 50 children with psychiatric problems due to family problems and comparing them with almost 100 healthy children, they made alarming findings.  For example, the children with psychiatric problems showed severe reduction of the corpus callosum, that is, the part that connects both hemispheres.

This reduction can make both halves of the brain less integrated; causing changes in personality and mood to be more marked and compromising emotional stability. Another consequence of this decreased connectivity is inability to focus.

screams damage infant brain boy

How can we avoid yelling?

Of course, our children can sometimes drive us crazy, but shouting is never the solution. To avoid falling into this temptation, remember the following:

  • Shouting is losing control. If we lose control, we can no longer properly discipline our child.
  • Avoid stressful moments. Sometimes it is difficult, but with good observation we will learn what triggers us to yell. So, when we see the pattern, we can work to eliminate it.
  • Calm down before acting. Develop a trick that will calm you down when you reach your limit, such as counting to ten. Relax and take control.
  • Do not blame yourself or overdo it. In other words, be careful with the expectations you set for yourself and your child. Also, do not blame him because he doesn’t always meet your expectations. He is a child. The most important thing is that he is happy and develops correctly.

“We cannot fashion our children after our desires, we must have them and love them as God has given them to us.”


Now, we already know the damage that frequent screaming can cause on the infant brain. Thus, it is in our hands, as adults and responsible people, to look for alternative forms of expression. We can find other ways to get our message across without jeopardizing our children’s mental health.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.