"Parents who wish to modify their teenage children's behavior would do better by communicating with them on an equal level, and explaining their rationale and worries to them," he said.
The study is published today (Sept. 4) in the journal Child Development.
Although a previous study found that more than 90 percent of American parents report using harsh verbal discipline, few studies have examined the effect of this discipline strategy on teenagers over time.
The new study analyzed information from 976 families -- which included a mother, father and a middle-school aged child -- living in Pennsylvania.
Parents were asked how often they used harsh verbal discipline in the past year, including shouting, yelling, screaming, swearing or cursing, or name-calling such as "dumb" or "lazy."
Nearly half of parents (45 percent of mothers and 42 percent of fathers) said they had used harsh verbal discipline in the last year. The link with behavior problems held even after the researchers took into account families' socioeconomic status, and use of physical discipline.