Children and Teens Program
TYPES OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND NEGLECT
REJECTING: An explicit refusal to accept a child as one's own.
IGNORING: Being unavailable for a child's emotional needs.
- Blaming the child for one's problems
- Treating the child in a negative manner
- Telling the child you wish he or she was "never born"
TERRORIZING: Verbally assaulting a child to create a climate of fear.
- Being away for long periods of time
- Being too busy to fulfill the child's emotional needs
- Not speaking to the child or sending the child away if she/he seeks help
- Sending children away for either short or long periods of time
ISOLATING: Cutting a child off from normal social experiences.
- Name calling
- Making fun of the child's accomplishments or interests
- Destroying the child's possessions or attacking beloved people or pets
- Threatening physical or sexual violence
CORRUPTING: Teaching a child social deviant patterns of behavior.
- Forbidding friendships or social activities
- Cutting the child off from relatives
- Excessive grounding or groundings without good reason
- Rewarding aggressive or delinquent behavior
- Encouraging early sexual behavior
- Introducing the child to illegal chemical use
Signs of Emotional Abuse and Neglect
- T H E C H I L D -
* Physical problems worsened by emotional distress *
* Regressive behavior *
* Low self-esteem *
* Failure to thrive *
* Extreme passivity or aggression *
* Overly adaptive: inappropriately mature *
* Developmental lags *
* Sleep disorders *
* Disorderly conduct *
* Long-term depression; suicidal *
- T H E P A R E N T -
* There are a few reliable indicators to determine whether a
parent or guardian is or is not being emotionally abusive or
* Blames or belittles *
* Threatens *
* Withholds love *
* Rejects or is cold *
* Treats siblings unequally *
* Seems unconcerned *
* Holds unrealistic expectations *
Lasting Effects of Emotional Maltreatment for Children
A long-lasting and damaging effect of emotional abuse and neglect is the loss or undermining of
competence -- that is, the loss of understanding and ability in communication skills, patience,
moderate goal setting, and ego development. Children who demonstrate these skills are considered,
for evaluation purposes, to have competence. Victims of emotional abuse or neglect not only lose or
never experience a positive family environment and normal emotional development, but also miss
out on developing important social skills for life outside the family environment. Victims are
placed at a substantial disadvantage in life because of the following behaviors:
Penalizing a child for normal, positive behavior such as smiling, talking or babbling, moving around, exploring, and investigating objects.
Discouraging the attachment between the care-giver and the infant.
- Punishing a child's natural need for investigating and mastering his or her
environment can hinder a child's competence.
Punishing a child for developing positive self-esteem.
- From early on, the infant and care-giver bond gives the infant a sense of trust
and love. Discouraging this can weaken the foundations of normal, healthy
Penalizing a child for developing and using interpersonal skills necessary for performance outside the family environment.
- Children are especially vulnerable to the opinions of others. Attacking their
self-esteem often leads to long-term poor self-image, poor socialization,
depression, and feelings of worthlessness.
(From the MN Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, 1934 University Ave. W., St. Paul MN 55104)
- Punishing children for normal developmental milestones can stunt their
emotional and social growth for a lifetime.