According to the American Humane Association emotional child abuse takes place when parents and even caregivers behave in a way that will negatively affect a child’s development; this includes physical and emotional development as well social and cognitive development. Emotionally abusing a child is also called psychological maltreatment.
Aspects Of Emotional Abuse
There are many ways parents inflict emotional abuse on their children. This includes rejection of the child, as well as ignoring, isolating, exploiting, verbally assaulting, neglect and terrorizing a child. Parents who refuse to lay eyes on their child or even call them by their names are inflicting emotional abuse. Rejecting a child includes not responding to any of the needs they typically have. Parents who keep their children away from friends, classmates, neighbors and even other family members are inflicting emotional abuse as well.
It is not unheard of for abusive parents to exploit and corrupt their own children by forcing them to be prostitutes or even teaching them to steal. Children are also being emotionally abused when their parents expect them to adhere to very strict and rigid standards with the threat that they will harm the child if the child does not do exactly as they are told. On the other end of the spectrum, many abusive parents simply ignore their own children and refuse to ensure that the children’s’ needs are met. This includes denying them the ability to receive medical treatment when necessary.
Parents who emotionally abuse their children often don’t realize that the way their children see them treat other people helps form their perceptions of how the world works and how people are supposed to behave. Another thing that many abusive parents don’t realize is that attempting to micro manage their child’s life at any age can be very damaging to their relationship with their child and this has long term effects on them. Some parents are under the mistaken impression that exerting 100% control over their children makes them better parents when the exact opposite is usually true.
The Reasons Why Emotional Child Abuse Happens
The emotional abuse of a child happens for several different reasons. One of those reasons is that some parents simply don’t know how to be a parent, especially with their first born. Often this stems from the fact that the parents themselves suffered from some form of child abuse at the hands of their own parents. Other times emotional child abuse is the result of a family living at or below the poverty line. It can also become an issue if a child has learning disabilities or any special needs. The higher a child’s IQ is and the better judge of other peoples’ character they are the less likely they will ever be a victim of emotional abuse.
A parent who has an addiction to drugs or alcohol often inflicts abuse on their children because they don’t know how else to cope. They also will not have the sense of judgement they would have if the drugs or alcohol weren’t an issue for them.
While every parent should have high expectations of their children it is possible to set these expectations too high. When this happens, emotional abuse often results. A young child who is crying because they don’t have something they need or want, or an older child that receives constant insults and put downs from their parents, will feel like their emotional needs are not being met.This can cause resentment on the child’s part, which can lead abuse parents to becoming more abusive.
Many times something as simple as stress can cause parents to emotionally abuse their children. Parents often have more stress on them than they can handle and this can manifest itself in anger and resentment towards their child. In the case of an unwanted pregnancy on the mother’s part, it is not uncommon for her to emotionally abuse the child she never wanted to begin with.
Emotional abuse can start when one is an infant. A parent that does not nurture their newborn emotionally may inadvertently end up killing the baby, even when all of the baby’s physical needs are met. Even babies who are just slightly deprived of bonding time with their parents can grow up to have low self-esteem and they often develop slower than their peers. These children often grow up to be insecure and anxious. Other problems that many emotionally abused children carry with then into adulthood is angry, destructive behavior, physically harming animals, withdrawal from other people and even the inability to hold down a job. They are also more likely to grow up to be alcoholics and/or drug addicts. Adults who were emotionally abused as children often feel like they are deficient as a human being and often have trouble sustaining any long term relationships.
Physically, a child that is emotionally abused can suffer from a number of problems. These include problems with speech and development, not thriving as they should, suffering from eating disorders and facial ticks, self harm and suicide attempts.
A child’s long term behavior patterns can be greatly effected by emotional abuse. Many emotionally abused children are very irritable, often act irrationally, behave inappropriately, suffer from depression and a profound feeling of sadness, Their emotional maturity later in life is also stunted as a result and may cause them to have difficulty controlling their emotions.
Preventing The Emotional Abuse Of Children
Preventing emotional abuse of children is something that requires people to work together. For this purpose a grassroots organization called Transforming the Emotional Abuse of Children was formed to provide parents with educational sources they can use to raise their children free from emotional abuse. The organization of Teach Through Love was meant to help raise awareness of the issue of emotional child abuse. It is also meant to address specific facts that parents need to know about their child’s development. For example, this includes the fact that when a baby is born healthy it still takes the first five years of their life for their brain to develop completely. Children who are not emotionally nurtured during this time period may not have a fully developed brain by the time they should.
According to doctors while physical abuse can be healed, children who are emotionally abused aren’t always able to heal. Parents who are verbally aggressive towards their children, which includes insults and yelling, often do severe emotional damage to their children. This can cause children to feel a lack of an emotional attachment to their own parents. Psychologists state that while most people automatically assume children are resilient, the truth is that there are only that way if they are raised by emotionally supportive parents. Children who are constantly denigrated by their parents rarely end up being resilient people.
Parents can prevent the emotional abuse of their children by carefully choosing their words around them. Threatening to take away a child’s food or a loved one is cruel and damaging and these words should be avoided at all costs. Teach Through Love constantly works to get encourage people all over the world to communicate with each other in non-violent ways; especially parents and children.
One thing that parents must keep in mind is that there are times when it is appropriate for them to apologize to their own child. After an upsetting incident caused by a parent, the quicker they apologize the less likely they are to do long term emotional damage to their child. Many parents either forget or simply don’t realize that while their children are expected to respect them, that respect has to go both ways. Parents who disrespect their child by calling them a rude or insulting name need to apologize right away. When parents must discipline their children for doing something wrong it is essential that the punishment be appropriate for the situation and the individual child in question. Punishing a child with the intention of embarassing or humiliating them can be considered emotional abuse.
Parents who recognize that they have emotionally abused their children need to do more than just stop the abuse. They also need to act quickly to show their children the compassion they have been lacking. The sooner this is done after the abuse the more likely it is that parents can repair their relationship with their children. A lack of compassion often leads to emotional child abuse, so parents must make it a point to show their children how much they love them. The more they do this the stronger their emotional bond will become.
Of alll the types of child abuse that exist emotional abuse is the hardest to detect. For this reason many children are emotionally abused for years before anyone else realizes it. A parent that finds themselves guilty of the emotional abuse of their child can reach out for help from doctors, educators and parenting experts who can give them advice and guidance.