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Expert advice

29th Oct 2023

Shouting at your children can have ‘lifelong’ effects on them, according to new charity

Sophie Collins


A new charity, which aims to support people who experience verbal abuse, says that shouting at your children can have ‘lifelong’ effects on their wellbeing.

While all parents have – at one point or another – had to shout at their youngsters to correct their behaviour, there is a huge difference between this and verbal abuse.

The new charity, called ‘Words Matter’ hopes to help people come to terms with their experience and aid them in dealing with their trauma.

Its founder, Jessica Bondy, spoke to Newstalk Breakfast on Friday about how she endured verbal abuse herself growing up – and the effect it had.

She said there is not enough public awareness of how damaging verbal abuse can be and many people don’t realise the extent of the problem.

“Verbal abuse of children can [cause] lifelong damage,” she claimed.

“Comparing it to physical abuse and sexual abuse, the impact can be just as great and I think it’s such an underestimated, hidden issue.”


Ms Bondy went on to say that verbal abuse has been linked to anxiety, depression, substance abuse and even suicide.

She explained that even if people who experience it do not suffer from mental health issues, it can impact their confidence for years after the fact.

“So many people I’ve coached and mentored… had been held back by the words they’d heard when they were children,” the Founder said.

“People were told they were ‘useless’, ‘stupid’ [and] were ‘never going to amount to anything’.”

Ms. Bondy also said that while we often associate verbal abuse with shouting, it’s incredibly important to know that it can be delivered in a normal tone of voice as well.

“[Verbal abuse] can be subtle and quiet.

“Part of it is the words that are used and if one is using words that criticise and demean, as a child growing up, you believe those to be true because you respect the adults in your life.

“So, those words, they stick and they end up defining you.”

The fact is, parents have had to shout at some point or another at their child for bad behaviour, however knowing the difference between correcting a child and verbally abusing them is imperative.

For any adults who think they might have inflicted verbal abuse on a child, Ms Bondy said the most important thing is to apologise and admit the error.

“It’s never too late,” she said.

“An apology is a start and you can repair [a relationship].”