Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression. ~ Dr Haim Ginott
Yet, time and again, we are guilty of doing things which create negative impressions on our kids. By doing certain things, saying certain things, withholding love and many other subtle and not so subtle gestures, we might be accused of emotionally abusing our children.
That is why today’s guest post by Nidhi Pathak in our Positive Parenting section is an absolute eye opener. She is talking about the various ways you might be putting your child through emotional abuse and not even realizing it. I hope all of you read it with an open mind and next time you are about to lose your cool, think of this article and refrain from a negative gesture.
Are you emotionally abusing your Child?
With the increasing number of juvenile crime and other ill-activities by teenagers and youth, I want to put the spotlight on the way we treat our kids and create awareness among the young parents. Knowingly or unknowingly, sometimes parents or care-takers tend to abuse infants and toddlers emotionally.
Have you ever got irritated with your little one and just shrugged them off? If yes, unknowingly you have just sent a few negative vibes to the little one that they are not worthwhile to spend time with. I completely understand that when we as a parent are trying hard to focus on some important task, and the slightest disturbance by our little ones makes us frustrated. But we need to understand that parenting doesn’t come easy, one needs to be patient and give full attention to their little ones.
So what is this Emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse in children can take many forms like child neglect, child rejection, extreme punishment, verbal abuse and so on. Even if your child cannot speak, but he/she is old enough to sense your feeling, mood and tone. Here is the quick guide on what kind of Emotional Abuses on your child are possible and how to avoid them. These are a few points which as a parent to an eighteen month child, I also try to keep in my mind.
Child neglect or rejection can be done either knowingly or unknowingly. When you are trying to send an important e-mail to your boss and you are being poked, tickled or interrupted by your little one, the easiest option for any parent is to ignore him/her and continue sending your e-mail. Yes that is why I have termed it ‘Child Neglect’ in a unknowing manner.
You can very politely respond to him/her in a very receptive manner. Like, ‘Yes dear what are you doing?, ‘Give two minutes we’ll go out to play soon”. If these kind of responses don’t help and she is still persistent, then just shut your work for 2-3 mins.
Meanwhile engage her to something new and interesting activities. Something like ‘ a box full of colorful strings (of palm size), put her on a dining mat with a bowl of colorful veggies like cheese cubes, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, carrots’. These activities can keep them occupied for hours. Yes they will create some mess, but that’s fine till you finish your work. If these activities doesn’t work, just take 2-3 mins to find an appropriate individual – a family member or friends who can spend some time with him/her till you finish your work.
Child neglect sometimes is also done purposely by parents and caretakers to show their anger. And this is why I have termed it ‘Child rejection’ in a known manner. This is the most insensitive behavior you can show to your child, like not talking to her, not responding to her, ignoring her acts and behave as if he/she doesn’t exist. Children need to be loved and cared for. When a parent purposely ignores the child, doesn’t give them hugs and doesn’t express their love, the child is going to feel like they are not wanted or loved. When parents do this kind of emotional abuse they feel that at least am not hurting her physically and making my point right across. But I personally feel that child feels more pain in such environment and develops low self-esteem.
Giving extreme punishment in the name of discipline to these little ones can put an emotional black spot in their mind. And it may even do life-time damage psychologically. so there is a big ‘No’ to extreme punishments. Yes, I do understand that discipline is required but there is a thin line between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ discipline. Some of the acceptable forms of discipline might be taking away her favorite toy, no candies or no going out in park.
Some unacceptable forms of discipline are anything that would seriously scare a child, like locking them in a bathroom, leaving them out of the house, hitting them with rods or scale or tying them up. These unacceptable forms of discipline leaves a scar mark in their mind for life and can bruise their emotional quotient completely.
This is the most common and underrated type of emotional abuse on a child. Verbal assaults, calling them names of animals, calling them ‘stupid’, ‘worthless’, and even blaming your child constantly for anything bad that happens to you or threatening a child in an extremely loud voice and showing violent actions.
Verbal abuse tears down the child, and the emotional, social and psychological effects can be severe. The effects of verbal abuse are instant as the child internalizes the pain and often throw their shadow into their adulthood as well.
Comparison and competition
In this competitive world, every parent tries to push their child to be the best and ‘Perfect’ to the ‘T’. Expecting high results and pressuring to perform best in every field may lead them to depression. This kind of emotional abuse is often done by parents, relatives, teachers and also peers. Comparing a child with their siblings and friends for their academic performance is the biggest mistake any parent can make for their educational development. When they are compared every now and then, what happens is that your child starts thinking that ‘whatever I do or work hard, anyways I am not best or better than my friends or sister’.
These thoughts then develop into depression, low self-esteem and later they the rebel nature. Never belittle them for their performance by comparing it to others. This can further develop in jealousy and other ill-feeling towards the person he/she is compared.
We often teach our children about good values like always speak truth, never lie. But when you ask your child to reply to a phone call saying that you are not at home, this makes them confused. And slowly they start feeling that little while lies here and there are fine and will start manipulating you too.
Emotional abuse along with other , can have an adverse effect on your child’s emotional, mental and behavioral development. Gradually they start developing a low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, aggressiveness, anxiety, difficulty with relationships, alienation, personality disorders, neediness and clinginess and sometimes even nightmares. The child behavior issues would be somewhat like lagging behind problems with school work, alcohol and/or drug abuse, eating disorders, suicidal behavior, prostitution, criminal behavior and abusing others.
So from now keep a close watch on your body language and speech while interacting with your kids. And keep a check on the above mentioned signs of ‘Emotional Abuse’ on your child. Emotional Abuse on a child can be done by any one be it adults or peers too.
So all smart moms out there from now be more alert
and sensitive towards your child’s emotional well being.
Nidhi Pathak is a wise and free-spirited city chick who is now an opinionated urban mom addicted to Pinterest, Instagram and mom blogging. She blogs at and is a mother to an eighteen month old princess Erishka.