Dear Mr. Dad: How bad is verbal discipline for kids? My next-door neighbors have a couple of teens and they are constantly yelling at them. Every single day. Not just a little—I’m talking top-of-your-lungs kind of stuff. Besides being really unpleasant to listen to, I’m worried about how that might affect the kids. I see them almost every day and I haven’t noticed any bruises or anything else that might indicate that they’re being hit. Still, should I say something to the parents or just keep my mouth shut?
A: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” is right up there with “Johnny and Julie siting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G….” and “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you” on the list of top annoying (yet endlessly repeated) childhood sayings. It also happens to be completely wrong. Screaming at kids is plenty bad. In fact, a new study has found that yelling at teens may do at least as much long-term damage as hitting.