It was midnight and I was on almost half asleep when suddenly someone started screaming outside. I got up and rushed towards the door to see what was wrong there. Outside, I saw my neighbor violently beating her 6 year old son with a stick. The child was shouting aloud and continuously saying, “Please mama…please, I am sorry”. The pleas did not bother the mother and she continued beating the child. After a while, she abused the child in harsh words and slammed the door, going in her apartment.
The child was standing outside and looking at me with tearful eyes, as if asking me for help. I did not know what to do at that moment. That night I got so depressed and had very harsh feelings for my neighbor. How could a mother be so cruel, I thought. I really felt bad.
The very next day I went to my younger brother’s school as it was his result day. He got ‘A’ grade in all subjects except science. Her teacher praised the child and said that he was very good in sports as well. I was highly disappointed. “Sports, sports, sport… it is not
important. No more sports from now”, I made it very clear to my brother. “The next time I want an ‘A’ in all the subjects”, I told him, also giving the example of his friend, Raja. “Look at Raju. How intelligent he is!. he always comes first in the class but you are so lazy and careless”, I went on.
After saying this all, when I looked at my brother, he was full of tears. It reminded me of the neighbor’s child. I obviously felt bad.
Reflecting upon the incidents narrated above, many of you might feel that my “advice” was also tantamount to violence, equal in effect to beating with a stick!.
Yes! What I did with my younger brother that day is commonly known as “Emotional abuse” and according to researches it is more traumatizing and destructive for a child than physical abuse.
Our society is now more educated and we have become more aware of our rights. We all know that sexual abuse, a sin, and physical abuse are really bad and should be avoided and stopped. Hundreds of organizations are working to stop these forms of abuse. But what about that abuse we inflict on our children everyday by by neglecting them, telling them that they are no good, worthless and stupid; shaming and humiliating a child, making negative comparisons to other children and siblings, frequent yelling and threatening them, putting high expectations on them, demanding for the fulfillment of unrealistic goals and imposing our decisions on them regardless of their own will? What do we think about all these actions? I am sure most of us have politically correct terms for these forms of violence against children.
Although emotional abuse cannot hurt as much as physical abuse does, but it can be harder to identify because the scars are left inside, hidden from the eyes. Emotional violence has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging the child’s sense of self.
Many research studies conclude that psycho-pathologic symptoms are more likely to develop in emotionally abused children. These children may experience a lifelong pattern of depression, anxiety, low self esteem, inappropriate or troubled relationships, or a lack of empathy. During their childhood victims may fail to thrive or their developmental progress may be halted. As teenagers they find it difficult to trust, participate in and achieve happiness in interpersonal relationships, and resolve the complex feelings left over from their childhood that they are no good in any thing.
Before ending up to that situation it is important, as parents or siblings, to assess your child right now for the symptoms of emotional abuse so that you can help them before they are completely crushed. Look for any of the behaviors in your child like excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing some thing wrong, shows extreme in behaviors; extremely compliant or extremely demanding, extremely passive or extremely aggressive, doesn’t seem to be attached to you, acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (thumb sucking, bed wetting).
Just remember, you can make a tremendous difference in the life of the child , especially if you take the steps to stop the abuse early by firstly talking to them, provide calm reassurance that they did nothing wrong , secondly allow to develop them strong attachment with you, and express warmth and positive regards for them. Finally always be there to support them in any circumstances. Now it’s up to you in which direction you mold your child’s personality positive or negative?