Child Emotional Abuse by Parents and its Impact - Seeker's Thoughts

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Child Emotional Abuse by Parents and its Impact


Emotional abuse happens when a child is repeatedly made to feel worthless, unloved, and alone or scared.  Also known as psychological or verbal abuse, it is the most common form of child abuse.


Studies show that  mothers are more likely to abuse children than fathers. #fact

Also known as psychological or verbal abuse it is the most common form of child abuse. It includes constant rejection, hostility, teasing, bullying, yelling, criticism, and exposure to family violence.



The impact of emotional abuse is just as harmful as physical abuse.

Every child hopes that parents are the ideal role models. Children want to be treated with respect, but unfortunately, that not always the case. Some kids grow up with mothers and fathers that can cause their children harm with the harsh and punitive behavior. 


There are some distinct signs you had an emotionally abusive parent, and although you can’t go back in time and change the way they acted.

Emotional abuse results in injury to a child’s self-esteem and damages a child’s emotional or psychological well-being.

All parents are human which means they have their flaws, but some have deeper psychological issues that end up affecting how they treat their children.

It is extremely difficult to have healthy emotional relationships when the example your parents set seemed to be the opposite. If you were taught to relate to others by being passive-aggressive, manipulative, or to not get too close because you may get hurt, this can all stem from childhood.

Relationship with parents is the first relationship a child form, and it can have a ripple effect later in life.

Types of emotional abuse

Typically, repeated incidents of abuse build up over time and cause lasting effects upon a child’s development and wellbeing. However, a single incident can cause serious harm as well.

Some examples of emotional abuse include:

- Continually ignoring or rejecting a child

- forcing a child to do things by scaring them

- Constantly swearing, yelling or screaming at a child

- telling a child that they’re worthless unloved or not enough

- Bulling, teasing, insulting or belittling a child

- having unrealistic expectations or unreasonable demands of child

- withholding love support, praise or attention from a child

- making a child feel different from other family members

- Constantly criticizing, humiliating or blaming a child

-exposing a child to domestic violence

- Physically or socially isolating a child

A study of some 2,000 adults in their sixties found that when it came to telling their life stories, they recalled painful events quite differently- even when there’s been a long interval of time since they occurred – with the exception of childhood trauma.

The researchers concluded that older adult’s perceived positive events as central to their life largely because of cultural norms, but those negative events were perceived as central or a turning point because of the related coping skills and emotional distress.

Also read -depression is another form of epidemic

Reports are mixed. A study at the University of New Hampshire found that 63 percent of more than 3,000 American parents surveyed reported one or more cases of verbal aggression toward children in their homes. 

However, a Child Protective Services study determined that only 6 percent of all child abuse cases involved "emotional maltreatment" (of which verbal abuse is the most common form). The fact that signs of verbal abuse are harder to recognize and prove than signs of physical abuse may account for the seemingly low number of "official" verbal abuse cases.


 Verbal abuse changes the developing brain

The human is highly adaptable. The evolutionary goal is for children to adapt to whatever environment they are in so that they not in a constant state of stress. Born into a safe, attentive, and tuned environment, the child’s brain develops normally;

When born into one which either unsupported or hostile, the brain does not. 

Studies show that various parts of the brain are affected by a hostile situation, among them the corpus callosum (the conduit for transferring motor, sensory and cognitive information between the brain’s two hemispheres); the hippocampus (part of the limbic system that regulates emotion) and the frontal cortex (controls thoughts and decision making).

This information is genuinely terrifying, but it also appears to be beyond dispute.

Impacts of emotional abuse

Children and young people may experience a range of emotional, psychological, and physical problems as a result of being harmed.

They are more prone to have mental disorders (Anxiety depression, phobias), they might have experienced difficulty in expressing themselves, behavioral problems or disorders, sleep or eating disorder, drug and alcohol use, inability to trust or difficulty forming relationships, destructive, aggressive or anti-social behaviors, low confidence, self-esteem or self-worth, overly adaptive behaviors (very compliant or defensive), sleeping or eating disorders, difficulty in regulating emotions, suicidal thoughts or attempts, feels worthless, or unloved, learning or speech disorders, high-risk sexual behavior or development delays.

Recognizing abusive behavior in yourself

Raising children is one of life’s greatest challenges and can trigger anger and frustration in the most even-tempered parent or guardian. If you grew up in a household where screaming and shouting or violence was the norm, you may not know any other way to raise your kids.

Recognizing that you have a problem is the biggest step to getting help. The following are warning signs that you may be crossing the line into abuse:

You can’t stop your anger. What starts as a swat on the backside may turn into multiple hits getting harder and harder. You may shake your child more and more and finally throw them down. You find yourself screaming louder and louder and can’t stop yourself.

You feel emotionally disconnected from your child. You may feel so overwhelmed that you don’t want anything to do with your child. You just want to be left alone and for your child to be quiet.

Meeting the daily needs of your child seems impossible. While everyone struggles with balancing dressing, feeding, and getting kids to school or other activities, if you continually can’t manage to do it, it’s a sign that something might be wrong.

Other people have expressed concern. It may be easy to bristle at other people expressing concern. However, consider carefully what they have to say. Are the words coming from someone you normally respect and trust?


How to help an abused or neglected child

What should you do if you suspect that a child is being abused? Or if a child confides in you? It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed and confused. Child abuse is a difficult subject that can be hard to accept and even harder to talk about—for both you and the child. When talking with an abused child, the best way to encourage them is to show calm reassurance and unconditional support. If you’re having trouble finding the words, let your actions speak for you.

Avoid denial and remain calm. A common reaction to the news as unpleasant and shocking as child abuse is denial. However, if you display denial to a child, or show shock or disgust at what they are saying, the child may be afraid to continue and will shut down. As hard as it may be, remain as calm and reassuring as you can.

Don’t interrogate. Let the child explain to you in their own words what happened, but don’t interrogate the child or ask leading questions. This may confuse and fluster the child and make it harder for them to continue their story.

Reassure the child that they did nothing wrong. It takes a lot for a child to come forward about abuse. Reassure them that you take what they said seriously and that it is not their fault.

Safety comes first. If you feel that your safety or the safety of the child would be threatened if you tried to intervene, leave it to the professionals. You may be able to provide more support later.
Stressed know how to take care of it?

Breaking the cycle of abuse

If you have a history of child abuse, having your own children can trigger strong memories and feelings that you may have repressed. You may be shocked and overwhelmed by your anger, and feel like you can’t control it. But you can learn new ways to manage your emotions and break your old patterns.

Remember, you are the most important person in your child’s world – and you don’t have to go it alone. Help and support are available:

Learn what age-appropriate is and what is not. Having realistic expectations of what children can handle at certain ages will help you avoid frustration and anger at normal child behavior. For example, newborns are not going to sleep through the night without a peep, and toddlers are not going to be able to sit quietly for extended periods of time.

Develop new parenting skills. Start by learning appropriate discipline techniques and how to set clear boundaries for your children. Parenting classes, books, and seminars offer this information. You can also turn to other parents for tips and advice.



Take care of yourself. If you are not getting enough rest and support or you’re feeling overwhelmed, you are much more likely to succumb to anger. Sleep deprivation, common in parents of young children, adds to moodiness and irritability—exactly what you are trying to avoid.

Get professional help. Breaking the cycle of abuse can be very difficult if the patterns are strongly entrenched. If you can’t seem to stop yourself no matter how hard you try, it’s time to get help, whether in the form of therapy, parenting classes, or other interventions. Your children will thank you for it.

Learn to control your emotions. If you were abused or neglected as a child, you may have an especially difficult time getting in touch with your range of emotions. You may have had to deny or repress them as a child, and now they spill out without your control.


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