Children who are emotionally abused may feel guilty, scared and confused. They very often are afraid to tell anyone about it especially if the abuser is a Parent, Guardian or Caregiver. When a Parent or Adult was emotionally abused as a child, there is a high tendency that they will do same to their children or any child in their care.
It is important to note that children can experience emotional abuse from Parents, Relatives, Caregivers, Siblings, Teachers or Peers. As adults, we need to pay special attention to the children around us, be sensitive to the possible red flags pointing towards abuse. They very often cry out for help in ways that may not be audible but visible.
SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE IN CHILDREN
- Withdrawal from friends
- Changes in behavior (Anger, Aggression, Hostility)
- Depression & sudden loss of confidence
- Sudden drop in performance at school
- Attempts at running away
- Attempts at suicide
- Rebellious behavior among siblings & peers
The above list is not exhaustive as there are many more signs to look out for. The important thing is to pay attention to a sudden personality change in the child. If anything unusual is suspected, it should be addressed immediately and not taken for granted.
CAUSES OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE IN CHILDREN
- Verbal attack/cruelty (Name calling)
- Poor parenting skills (Lack of affection from parents)
- Unhealthy comparison to siblings/peers
- Constant rebuke
- Witnessing physical/emotional abuse of a parent by the other
Also this list is not exhaustive. We need to understand that even though they are children, they are very sensitive to everything that happens around them. Adults need to watch their actions & utterances around children, it affects them in more ways than we can ever imagine.
LONG TERM EFFECT OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE IN CHILDREN
- Poor mental development
- Difficulty in making & keeping strong relationships
- Problems at school
- Criminal behavior
- Abuse of their own kids in the future
- Alcohol & drug abuse
The long term effect of abuse of a child can be devastating. It sometimes spans over several generations, creating a cycle of abuse in the family and community if left unchecked. The Adults they become, is a function of the childhood they experienced
TREATMENT OF EMOTIONALLY ABUSED CHILDREN
- Family counseling
- Therapy for the child & abuser
In order to seek treatment, we must first recognize that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Often times, this is what delays the treatment process. Some abusers never admit their wrong & unfortunately, some children are not aware that they are being abused. They blame themselves for whatever treatment they receive and internalize the pain. It is our responsibility as adults to protect the little ones around us at all costs.