Although all children react to and/or are able to cope differently with stress that may be present in their lives, a drastic or prolonged change in their typical behaviors can be an indicator of concern. Examples include: if the child begins to display inappropriate behavior that is immature or too mature for his/her age, clinging behavior, compulsive attention or affection seeking behavior, aggressiveness, uncooperativeness, bed-wetting, destructive behavior or constantly being sad or withdrawn. Additionally, behaviors such as poor relationships with peers, lack of self confidence, unusual fears for his/her age, inability to react with emotion or develop an emotional bond with others can also be indicators.
Why Does Emotional Abuse Happen?
As with all types of abuse of children, there can be many reasons that can be cited as to why it occurs. The demands of parenting are great and we are generally are not taught how to be parents, rather, we are expected to “just know” or learn it in informal ways. We generally tend to use those techniques that our parents used with us for good or for bad. When life stresses build up, and we are unable to handle these stresses, the chance for abuse increases. Stressors such as unemployment, poverty, isolation from relatives and friends, separation and divorce, health crises, drug or alcohol abuse, mental health problems, etc. can all lead to emotional abuse. Not understanding children’s developmental needs, not being able to empathize with others, not being able to manage children’s behavior, treating children more as our friends than our children and having control issues also contribute to the emotional abuse of children.