Imagine yourself a child being threatened or yelled at for a simple mistake or two. How would you feel? Ashamed? Unloved? Humiliated? And in constant fear that you would be scolded again in case you make another mistake?
Verbal abuse is one of the most common and also most overlooked forms of abuse on children. Most times it is passed off as a form of "disciplining" or "tough love". This ignorant perspective can cause children to experience devastating consequences.
SHORT TERM EFFECTS OF VERBAL ABUSE ON CHILDREN
While the damages caused by verbal abuse cannot be seen externally, it leaves behind the psychological impact that often makes it difficult for the child to get over. The short term effects are described below-
Routine or clinical depression:
Demoralizing or yelling at children can result in negative outcomes.
* The child may develop inferiority complexes and may keep himself aloof from others. * This condition may become permanent, that is, clinical one if the abuse is allowed to happen frequently and for a long term.
Deteriorating mental and physical performances: With lower self-confidence, the child may exhibit poor mental and physical performances.
* If a parent for instances says, "I know you will win the race", the child will automatically start assuming that he has won the race and he will have no doubts in his mind, irrespective of what the outcome may be. * On the other hand, if you told your child "you just don't have the stamina", he will get nervous for the poor outcome predicted for him. The child at this point may decide to lose to prove that his parents are right.
Develop inferiority complexes: When a child is yelled at constantly, he starts believing 'there must be something wrong with me'.
* He starts developing inferiority complexes and feels his friends to be superior to him. * Since he has been suggested that is not at par with others, he starts assuming others to be better than him and this in turn makes him abusive as well.
LONG TERM EFFECTS OF VERBAL ABUSE ON CHILDREN
Children who have been subjected to constant verbal abuse suffer from permanent health and psychological disorders. Here are discussed some of the behavioral troubles -
Health issues: Depression leads to "substitution chain", in which the victim to satisfy his pleasures tend to indulge in overeating or stop eating altogether. This affects his growth and development of bones, muscles and vital organs are also impaired. The child, thus gets weaker and weaker with time.
Low self-confidence: Qualities of dominance and confidence are vital for a successful professional life and a satisfying personal life for adults. Its absence can result in frustration and depression. Low hope in life: Victims subjected to constant verbal abuse may fail to develop a positive outlook and show poor self-confidence that might cause problems in their later stages of life.
Become addictive: The drive to accomplish a goal often keeps us away from alcohol or drugs. Again, if you look at the simple fact, the hungry will look for food while the depressed will look for addictive substances to keep themselves away from reality. Develop anti-social tendencies: The worst side effect is that abused children often grow up to be damaged adults and abused parents as well. Several studies on criminals' childhood have established links between verbal abuse and the individual's criminal history.
Emotional child abuse vs. verbal child abuse
Sometimes verbal abuse can also be emotional abuse. In many cases, emotional abuse is a form of constant emotional maltreatment or neglect that your child feels subjected to, either by you or someone else close to him. Emotional or psychological abuse can cause some very serious damage to your child's cognitive, emotional, social, and psychological development. Sometimes, the parent or the caregiver will emotionally abuse the child knowing very well what the consequences can be. At other times, parents or caregivers can subject the child to emotional abuse without realizing what they are doing.
Here are a few situations that can make your child suffer from emotional abuse:
Ignoring your child:
* You may be ignoring your child when you, or the main caregiver, are not present with him most of the times, to such an extent that he starts feeling lonely. * Also, in some situations, you may be physically present with your child, but may not be paying any attention to him. * Other situations in which your child may feel ignored are if you avoid making eye contact while speaking to him or do not frequently address him by name.
Rejecting your child's needs:
* Rejecting your child's needs could mean something as simple as ridiculing your child in front of others, which could seem a small incident to you at the time, but can have a grave and long-lasting consequence. * You may regularly refuse to respond to your child's simple physical needs by not touching or hugging him. You may also be rejecting his basic needs and wants.
Keeping your child in isolation:
* Keeping your child in isolation means that you regularly prevent your child from being in touch with his friends or peers. It could also mean a situation where you prevent your child from having regular social interactions with other family members or adults. * Keeping your child in isolation will also refer to those times when you may choose to limit your child's freedom of movement, often in the way of keeping him grounded as a punishment. While many parents do punish their child by confining them, it can become a form of emotional abuse for the child if it is too frequent.
Exploiting or corrupting the child by manipulating him:
* If your child is suffering from the exploitative or corrupt form of emotional abuse, someone may be teaching or encouraging him to take part in activities that are inappropriate or even illegal. u In some cases, your child may also be forced into the same, sometimes without your knowledge. * Exploitative or corrupt forms of emotional abuse could involve behavior from the parent or the main caregiver that is antisocial or self-destructive. It could encourage risky behavior in the child by forcing him to lie or steal or get involved in flesh trade.
Verbal assault and abuse:
* The verbal form of emotional abuse of a child can also have a very strong and long-lasting effect on him. * A verbal assault could involve ridiculing, shaming, belittling the child on a regular basis. It could also involve a situation in which someone verbally threatens your child.
Terrorizing the child:
* When a child feels terrorized as a form of emotional abuse, it means that the parent or caregiver threaten or bully the child to make him obey. * A parent or a caregiver can threaten or bully the child in various ways. It could be an act that puts the child in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation. It could also be an act of separating him from his favorite pet or toy or even a sibling until he complies. * In many cases, the child can feel terrorized or bullied when the parent or caregiver put unrealistic expectations in front of him. He may fear dangerous consequences if he does not meet the expectations.
The writer is an online activist and contributor at