What Is It ?
What Is It ?
Lots of us tend to find this term vague or elusive. Well, here is definition
that could sum it up by stating that "A Child Emotional Abuse" may be defined as a pattern of behavior that attacks the child's emotional development and sense of self
worthiness. Any body intentionally or unintentionally practicing such
pattern against his own children or other peoples children would fall under the category
of "Child Emotional Abuser". This emotionally distractive behavior
could involves words,
actions and indifference. It becomes active when the abuser systematically
practice harsh behaviors ageist the child such as: rejection, names calling,
putting down, terrorizing, isolating, humiliating, corrupting, ignoring, making fun of a child
and /or always nitpicking.
As you see, Emotional abuse is more
than just verbal abuse. It is in fact more of an attack on the child's emotional and social
development, and is a grave threat to a healthy human development. Emotional abuse
can take many forms:
At the early stages of their lives, children learn to interact with the world through their
basic interactions skills and senses with
their parents. Children are normally in need of warmth and love for them to
sustain a healthy mental growth. Only
when parents show their love, the child can see the world as a safe and secure
place and therefore would gradually become keen for exploration and learning. Also,
love and affection gives the child the
necessary ingredients for intellectual and social development. Children whom are
subjected to consistent coldness tend to grow with the idea that this world
cold and uninviting
place, and would likely develop seriously impaired relationships in the future. They
may also never feel confident to explore and learn.
A simple example of coldness is when
the child draws a picture and rush to a parent with great thrill and enthusiasm to show
him or her "his achievements" and what they do? Yelling at the child for
distracting his\her concentration on rubbish and useless childish drawing !? Overall, this is
a realistic event when the parents tend to be careless towards the child interests
and the child feels this undermining act. Another example
is when the parents do not attend when they are invited from school or any
other activity that the child is participating in without explaining to the child a
reasonable reason for not attending which leaves the child with the idea that "They
just do not care about me as I am not important"
This behavior against the child is more related to the nature of the
upbringing. For example, when the parents or the care-givers teach and encourage
their children to get involved in antisocial activities, or to behave
in a way that encourages the child to develop false social values that reinforces
antisocial or damaging behavioral patterns. In such in house educational effluence,
the children would grow
up unfit for normal social experience. Corruption of the Childs values is
reinforced further when the child do or say something wrong but the parents do nothing
to try to correct the situation simply because they do not want to upset the child
or think that "The child will not practice such false behaviors when he or
she are grown ups".
Although it might seem that the
child likes this situation and is happy because he/she is free to do whatever
they likes without anyone interfering, but in fact the child does not feel
so. The child feels unsecured because the he is left on his own to decide
what to do without having any guidance. The child feeling of insecurity and stress
my have negative effects on his\her personality especially when the society or
the people around the child do not welcome or reject the child for his\her
An example of corrupted values and
lack of guidance may be noticed when the child goes to a shopping mall and starts to act in
a way that disturb
others or apply damages to the mall properties. It is also noted when the mother
asks the child to come home after a play with friends, and she insists, but the child rejects and the mother
just give up and leave the child to decide when to come back without any
Cruelty happens when the caregivers are too tough with the child, to the
extend that the
child does not feel safe or loved. Although cruelty is more severe than coldness, but
it may have similar effects on the child. The child experiencing cruelty may
have difficulties to learn and form healthy relationships both in childhood and
in adulthood. This is due to the lack of love and safety that cruelty will leave
in the child heart. The problem with cruelty is that it makes it difficult for the child
to "find sense" of the world and it may affect all areas of learning, emotional
and social developments of the abused child.
An example of cruelty is sever
punishments for mistakes that are minor or applying punishments where the child
does not know exactly what went wrong or whey he\she is getting punished.
Another example of cruelty, which is a mane one, is making unrealistic
expectations form the child or expecting the child to act in a way beyond
his\her age, mental or physical capabilities.
The interaction between the caregivers and the child, even at the very early days
after the Childs birth, is one of the most important factors for building the foundations of learning
for the child. In this relationships, the child learns that each action have a
When the child knows
what to expect when an action is done, whether right or wrong, the child
learning skills will be improved and the child will know how to think and act in
a logical way. When the child however can not expect the consequences, all areas of
learning can be effected throughout the child's life span. It may also leave the
child in extreme stresses as the child does not know what will happen next
especially when the child wants to start something new.
A very simple example is when the caregivers act differently for the situation. For example, the child may go out
without permission and will receive an extreme punishment and other time does
the same but the caregiver react with total ignorance without providing any reason that
the child could understand.
Another example is when the
child breaks a peace of antique at home and the child get punished physically
and emotionally in the worse possible manner and the mother will make sure that the
child get the message of how expensive and important that peace of antique was
and how she is sad to lose it. On the other hand, the mothers friend come with
her kids and one of the friend's children break a similar antique and when the
friend get angry at her kid, the mother try to convince her friend that it is
OK, it is not an important matter, it is easy to buy another one or that the kid
does not deserve all that punishment. The child will be left in a big confusion
seeing such anomalies. He or she will end up with a very low self esteem when the child see the extreme inconsistency between the
reactions when he\she break the antique and when the friends child breaks it.
Having these types of reactions continuously with the child may have a big
negative effect on the emotional health of the child and also on the child's
Calling the child names such as
"Stupid", "Useless", "Fool" or any other names that
badly hits the child self worthiness can
have an extremely negative impact on the child personality especially if those
words are used continuously. Such
continuous belittling causes the child to see him or herself in a way consistent
with the caregivers negative wordings. This of course would results
in the loss or the negative impact on the child's self esteem or self
Parents do need to be
critic of the child but not in this belittling fashion. They should criticize the
child's actions and not the personality. For example, if the child have low marks in the exam,
instead of them saying "You are stupid", "You will never learn or
better tell the child "You did not utilize your time properly" or "You did not
put enough time and effort for this exam". This will help the child know where
exactly is his or her problems and will always see hope for improvements.
An example of ignorance is when the
child is having a problem and tries to talk to the caregiver about it or tires
to send signals to the caregiver that he\she is in trouble but the caregiver
does not listen or react due to reasons that the child can't understand.
Another example is when the child is scared and the caregiver knows it but
does not try to cool the child down or to explain the situation so that the child can
feel that the caregiver is available to protect or to provide support when
when the caregiver is physically and or mentally unavailable to the child. Be it
absorbed or failing to respond to the child's behaviors. Ignoring a child may be in
many forms when the child need to receive love and support and the caregiver is
able to provide it but does not do so. Ignoring a child
may leave the child unable to get all the essential and necessary stimulations
and interactions necessary for the child's emotional, intellectual and social development. Ignoring the child may have
extreme effects on the child's self worthiness.
Inappropriate control takes three forms - lack of control, over control, and
inconsistent control. Lack of control puts the children at risk of danger or harm
to themselves. It does not provide the child with the experience needed to lead a
safe life. An example of this is leaving the child to decide on the TV channels to
watch even if they are not appropriate for the child's age and also set no time
limit to watch the TV. The same also applies to the Internet.
Over control does not
leave enough space and opportunities for the child's self-assertion and
self-development. It prevents the children from exploring the world around them. An
example of this is when the child have no area where the child can experience
decision making and also when the child has to get a permission for every single
activity he\she wants to make. Giving children enough knowledge. Allowing the children to practice decision making will help in
the child's mental and social
development and also will help in learning and practicing good decision making
need to help them make bigger decisions when they are grown ups.
Inconsistent control on
the other hand could cause anxiety and confusion and could lead to a variety of
problematic behaviors as well as impairing the intellectual development. When
caregivers over control the child on a subject today and lose control over the
same subject the next day, this would leaves the child scared and confused of what
really his\her boundaries and areas of movements are. As a general rule, children do not
feel very safe or relaxed with inconsistent behaviors of their caregivers.
Isolation involve the
caregiver's behavior which prevents the child from making normal social relations
by for example preventing
the child from forming friendships and normal family relations. Isolation can
lead to psychological disorders such as depression. Isolating a child
can seriously impairs their intellectual, emotional and social development.
Isolation may be accompanied by other forms of emotional abuse and often
Caregivers whom lack the ability to bond will often display rejection behavior
towards a child.
When a caregiver rejects a child, the caregiver is negating the child's
self-image, showing the child that he\she has no value and is unwanted. Children who are
rejected from the start by their caregivers are more likely to develop a range of behavior
problems. An infant who is rejected has almost no chance of integrating into a
are criticized, their behaviors
should be criticized and not the personality. Make it
clear to the child that you are not rejecting them but you are rejecting that
particular behavior. There is a big difference between being told that
your father thinks that you could do a better job at school and have better grades
and being told that your father thinks your are too lazy and stupid to do better
than what you are doing.
Terrorizing involves threatening
the child with the extreme or vague but harsh punishment as this would invoke intense fear.
Terrorizing can involve threats to destroy the child's prosperities, break arm or
leg, burn, kick out of the house or even to kill pets or loved ones if the child
does not meet the caregiver expectations.
Terrorizing does a
great damage to the child's feelings of safety and leaves the child sinking in
stresses and fear almost all the time. This will not only have a psychological
negative effect on the child but will also cause physical problems and it may
also reduce the ability of the child to fight diseases. The child living in
terror has little opportunity to develop a healthy mentality without social and
Emotional abuse is the
core of all forms of abuse, and the long term effects of child abuse and neglect
is a result of the emotional aspects of abuse. In fact, it is the
psychological aspect of most abusive behaviors that defines them as abusive.
Think of a child breaking his\her
leg. If the leg was broken while playing football with friends, the child will heal and recover
with no psychological problems and the child will learn valuable life lessons
and this will be stronger if the caregivers and friends offer there support to
But what if the same leg was
broken because a caregiver
kicked the child and dropped him\her down the stairs? Will the feeling be
the same? Will handling the problem and pain be the same? In this case the
child will heal physically, but may never heal psychologically.
Although the major harm
of abuse is often caused by the emotionally, yet emotional abuse
is the most difficult forms of abuse to substantiate and prosecute. This
is because emotional abuse leaves no tangible marks like is the case with physical abuse.