Any abuser (be it sexual, physical or emotional) thrives on the victim’s insecurities, fear and neediness. The abuser greatly uses this to cover up the abuse and repeat it. The need for parents today is to raise children with high self-confidence and greater self-worth, who are not afraid to voice up to any such abuse.
Parenting however, in today’s era is the most delicately difficult and challenging part of our lives. Many times knowingly or unknowingly, in our attempt to improve and discipline our children, we contribute to creating a poor self-image of them.
Let us see a few parenting falls that can actually result in developing permanent emotional wounds in children.
In our attempt to polish our children, we often commit one of the greatest flaws in parenting “Constant Criticism”. Children develop and define their sense of self by processing what others tell them about who they are, what they are good at, how they behave and so on. They are a perfect example of Charles Cooley’s “Looking-Glass Self” principle.
So how does criticism affect children exactly ?
A child that is criticised regularly seems to develop Low self-confidence, false lower self-image, shame complex (a feeling of not being enough), a feeling of not being loved, and over-sensitivity to certain words or actions.
An abuser is in the lookout for such timid children and will use their shames to hide his abusive behaviour.
If you are blaming your children for anything and everything that goes wrong, you are actually pushing them into a guilt trap. Over a period of time then this becomes deeply embedded in their psyche and they tend to blame themselves for anything that goes wrong with them.
Such children when subjected to abuse will blame themselves for the abusers behaviour and may choose to hide the abuse instead of bringing it forth.
3. Scolding in Public
Oftentimes, willingly or unwillingly we end up scolding children in public. Our action may either be out of embarrassment, frustration or it may be our way of punishment.
But scolding children in public can have adverse effects on their self-esteem and cause them permanent emotional damage.
4. Verbal Aggression
Verbal aggression especially if it includes shouting and insulting can have deep impacts on the child’s emotional development.
Some examples of verbal abuse :
A. Name Calling : “You are so stupid” why do you always behave like this ?”
B. Shame : “You are such an embarrassment.”
C. Comparisons : “ I wish you were more like child-B, he is so much smarter than you are”
D. Teasing in public: “He can never do anything properly, always messes up”
E. Rejection: “Shut up and don’t talk to me”
Such verbal abuse is a silent killer. It can completely kill child’s self-esteem, self-image, and self-worth. In extreme cases it can even cause depression in children. It will most certainly end up in a very troubled parent child relationship and lack of trust on both sides.
Children who have grown up with these emotional wounds are easy targets for abusers. Owing to personal shame, low self-esteem, low confidence, troubled parent child relationships they tend to silently let the abuser get away with their behaviour.
As parents, as much as disciplining our children is our responsibility we need to quickly examine our actions such that they do not get to an extent where we are permanently damaging the emotional construct of our children, which eventually makes them be easy prey for abusers.