We want what’s best for our kids. It’s why so many parents struggle with parenting choices. And we’re only human, after all.

It’s normal to get frustrated with your children, especially if they are misbehaving. But the way you express this frustration and deal with the situation can have major implications on their personality development and their long-term health.

In fact, harsh parental disciplining measures, like yelling, can have an even bigger impact on kids than previously believed. Read on to learn what clinical studies have found about the long-term effects that yelling can have on kids.

You might think that yelling at your kids can solve a problem in the moment or can prevent them from behaving badly in the future. But research shows that it could actually be creating more issues in the long run. Yelling can actually makes your child’s behavior even worse. Which means you have to yell more to try to correct it. And the cycle continues.

A study on parent-child relationships showed that this is just the case in many families. In the study, 13-year-olds who were shouted at by their parents reacted by increasing their levels of bad behavior over the following year.

And if you think it matters which parent is doing the disciplining, it doesn’t. Another study found that there is no difference if harsh discipline comes from the father or the mother. The outcome is the same: behavioral problems get worse.

Learn more about the long-term effects of child emotional abuse »

Yelling and other harsh parenting techniques can quite literally change the way your child’s brain develops. That’s because humans process negative information and events more quickly and thoroughly than good ones.

One study compared brain MRI scans of people who had a history of parental verbal abuse in childhood with scans of those who did not have a history of abuse. They found a noticeable physical difference in the parts of the brain responsible for processing sounds and language.

In addition to children feeling hurt, scared, or sad when their parents yell at them, verbal abuse has the ability to cause deeper psychological issues that carry into adulthood.

In the study that tracked increasing behavioral problems by 13-year-olds who were yelled at, researchers also found an uptick in depressive symptoms. Many other studies also show a connection between emotional abuse and depression or anxiety. These kinds of symptoms can lead to worsening behavior and can even develop into self-destructive actions, like drug use or an increase in risky sexual activity.

The experiences we have growing up shape us in many ways, some of which we may not even realize. Stress in childhood from a verbally abusive parent can increase a child’s risk for certain health problems as an adult. Research tells us that experiencing stress as a child can have long-term impacts on physical health.

A recent study found a link between negative childhood experiences, including verbal and other kinds of abuse, and the later development of painful chronic conditions. The conditions included arthritis, bad headaches, back and neck problems, and other chronic pain.

It’s never too late to make a change in your parenting behavior or learn some new techniques. If you notice yourself yelling a lot or losing your temper, ask for help. A therapist or even another parent can help you sort through some of those feelings and develop a plan to deal with them in a healthier way.