There is no universally accepted definition of emotional abuse. It is commonly defined as “systematic attacks on a child’s emotional well-being and sense of self-worth.” Think of emotional child abuse as a pattern of behavior that attacks a child’s emotional development, sense well-being and trust in the world and others. These attacks can include overtly violent verbal acts or simply chronic, excessive, aggressive or unreasonable demands that place expectations on children that are beyond their developmental capacity. Often, parents unknowingly place inappropriate expectations on children. Three-year-olds, for example, can not be expected to sit quietly for an extended length of time. They just do not have the physical control of their bodies yet, nor the coping skills to always manage “listening” to requests to “behave.” Even an overly cooperative child is at-risk for being dominated and controlled through a system of praise and rewards which can be emotionally damaging, as the child feels pressured into a constant race to keep up with the expectations of others. Expectations that do not consider a child’s needs and feelings do more harm than good. The end result: a child who has less ability to organize his thoughts, relate in healthy ways, manage his emotions or resolve conflict peacefully. Violence in our words can manifest in a variety of ways including: verbal attacks, judgments, shame, blame, guilt, comparing, criticizing, teasing, name-calling insulting, rejecting and evaluating children’s behavior. Any time children are exposed to verbal abuse or violence, it chips away at their sense of self-worth and lays a foundation of hopelessness. Sometimes it’s just a scratch and other times it’s a whole chunk of self-esteem that falls off. It is not always the severity of the event but the attention, intention, and follow-up reactions of adults that determine whether or not these disconnections in our relationships (which happen and are normal) become healing moments of growth or moments which undermine healthy development. The child who feels heard, and emotionally supported will grow from negative experiences, learning to cope and strengthening his capacity for empathy. The child who experiences criticism, isolation, punitive consequences, negativity, shame, blame or guilt does not develop in the same ways. From an online article by Lori Petro http://www.teach-through-love.com/emotional-child-abuse.html
I wanted to tell you
all my secrets
but you became
one of them.
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