Psychological abuse from parents

What Is Emotional Abuse & Things You Should Know

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  • What is emotional abuse?
  • Types of emotional abuse
  • Signs of emotional abuse
  • If a child reveals abuse
  • Effects of emotional abuse
  • Who's at risk?
  • Support for parents, children and young people
  • Help if you're worried about your behaviour

It can sometimes be hard to know what emotional abuse is, especially when it happens as part of other kinds of abuse. That’s why we’ve got advice on the signs, effects and how to report it.

Worried about a child?

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our helpline to speak to one of our counsellors. Call us on 0808 800 5000, email [email protected] or fill in our online form.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is any type of abuse that involves the continual emotional mistreatment of a child. It's sometimes called psychological abuse. Emotional abuse can involve deliberately trying to scare, humiliate, isolate or ignore a child.

Emotional abuse is often a part of other kinds of abuse, which means it can be difficult to spot the signs or tell the difference, though it can also happen on its own.

Types of emotional abuse

Emotional abuse includes:

  • humiliating or constantly criticising a child
  • threatening, shouting at a child or calling them names
  • making the child the subject of jokes, or using sarcasm to hurt a child
  • blaming and scapegoating
  • making a child perform degrading acts
  • not recognising a child's own individuality or trying to control their lives
  • pushing a child too hard or not recognising their limitations
  • exposing a child to upsetting events or situations, like domestic abuse or drug taking
  • failing to promote a child's social development
  • not allowing them to have friends
  • persistently ignoring them
  • being absent
  • manipulating a child
  • never saying anything kind, expressing positive feelings or congratulating a child on successes
  • never showing any emotions in interactions with a child, also known as emotional neglect.

If a child reveals abuse

A child who is being emotionally abused might not realise what's happening is wrong. And they might even blame themselves. If a child talks to you about emotional abuse it's important to:

  • listen carefully to what they're saying
  • let them know they've done the right thing by telling you
  • tell them it's not their fault
  • say you'll take them seriously
  • don't confront the alleged abuser
  • explain what you'll do next
  • report what the child has told you as soon as possible.

Report abuse

Call us on 0808 800 5000, email [email protected] or fill in our online form.

Effects of emotional abuse

Over time, emotional abuse and neglect can have serious long term effects on a child's social, emotional and physical health and development. This includes:

Emotional abuse can change how a child behaves, such as:

  • wanting attention or becoming clingy
  • not caring how they act or what happens to them
  • trying to make people dislike them
  • developing risky behaviour, like stealing, bullying or running away.

Emotional abuse can affect a child's emotional development, including:

  • feeling, expressing and controlling emotions
  • lacking confidence or causing anger problems
  • finding it difficult to make and maintain healthy relationships later in life
  • higher levels of depression and health problems as adults compared to those who experienced other types of child abuse.

Emotional abuse of child or young person can increase the risk of:

  • mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts
  • eating disorders
  • self-harm
  • language development
  • problems forming healthy relationships.

Who's at risk

Any child, from any background, can be at risk of emotional abuse. But some are more vulnerable than others.

Children who are emotionally abused are often suffering another type of abuse or neglect at the same time – but this isn't always the case.

When a family is going through a tough time, parents and carers might find it difficult to provide a safe and loving home for their children. This can happen when families are experiencing:

  • relationship problems
  • family arguments
  • money problems or unemployment
  • mental health issues
  • poverty
  • addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • domestic abuse.

Signs of emotional abuse

There might not be any obvious physical signs of emotional abuse or neglect. And a child might not tell anyone what's happening until they reach a 'crisis point'. That's why it's important to look out for signs in how a child is acting.

As children grow up, their emotions change. This means it can be difficult to tell if they're being emotionally abused. But children who are being emotionally abused might:

  • seem unconfident or lack self-assurance
  • struggle to control their emotions
  • have difficulty making or maintaining relationships
  • act in a way that's inappropriate for their age.

The signs of emotional abuse can also be different for children at different ages.

Babies and pre-school children who are being emotionally abused or neglected might:

  • be overly-affectionate to strangers or people they don't know well
  • seem unconfident, wary or anxious
  • not have a close relationship or bond with their parent
  • be aggressive or cruel towards other children or animals.

Older children might:

  • use language you wouldn't expect them to know for their age
  • act in a way or know about things you wouldn't expect them to know for their age
  • struggle to control their emotions
  • have extreme outbursts
  • seem isolated from their parents
  • lack social skills
  • have few or no friends.

Help if you're worried about your behaviour

If you are, or think you might be, emotionally abusing a member of your family, there's help available.

You can call us for information and advice on 0808 800 5000, email [email protected] or fill in our online form.

Respect offers information, advice and support to perpetrators of abuse. 

  • Call Respect – People living in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can call for free on 0808 802 4040 (Monday – Friday 9am-5pm).
  • Email Respect – You can email Respect on [email protected]. They aim to reply to emails within two working days.
  • Chat online – Respect have a webchat service available on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am-4pm.

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More support for you and your child

Emotional abuse

It can be hard to know what emotional abuse is. We’ve got advice on the signs, effects and how to report it.

Find out more

Physical abuse

If you're worried about physical abuse, we have information and advice to help you feel confident in taking the next steps to keep children and young people safe.

Find out more


Neglect can be hard to spot. We've got advice on the types and signs of neglect and what you can do if you’re worried about a child.

Find out more

Am I Being Emotionally Abused by My Parents? 6 Signs and Getting Help

  • Emotional abuse can manifest in many ways including intimidation and comparing you to others.
  • Other types of emotional abuse, like neglect, may happen if the parent has a mental health condition.
  • Parental emotional abuse can cause long-lasting damage to a child's mental and physical health.

Emotional abuse is the most common form of child mistreatment. About 36% of the adult population reports experiencing emotional abuse during childhood, typically from parents or caregivers.

Emotional abuse describes a pattern of behavior that damages your self-worth or sense of emotional safety, including constant criticism, threats, rejection, name-calling, or withholding of love and support. 

However, there's a big difference between having a normal argument with a parent and emotional abuse, says Lauren Kerwin, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice. 

In a healthy argument, your parent can disagree with you while still allowing you to feel heard and respected. The situation can become abusive if your parent invalidates or discounts your feelings.

"When a parent is chronically emotionally invalidating — by shaming, criticizing, insulting, or mocking their child — the child feels constantly judged and inadequate and ends up developing a whole host of negative beliefs about themselves," adds Kerwin. "Their shame can easily turn into borderline personality disorder (BPD), substance abuse, suicidal ideation, and other worrisome mental health issues. "

Note: Most perpetrators of emotional abuse are parents: about 53.7% are women, and 45.3% are men. Boys and girls experience similar rates of childhood abuse. Kerwin notes that emotional abuse tends to happen more in households where at least one parent has a mental health disorder or substance abuse issues. 

Remember: Emotional abuse doesn't only happen during childhood. People can experience it at any age and in the context of any kind of relationship, including with romantic partners. Regardless, the important thing to emphasize is that it's not your fault, and you don't deserve to be treated this way.

Below, experts share some signs of parental emotional abuse to look out for, plus some guidance on how to cope.

1. They always come first 

It's important for parents to take care of themselves — after all, they can only properly care for their children if their own physical, mental, and emotional needs are met. 

Still, when a parent constantly prioritizes their needs above a child's, that can manifest into abuse over time, especially when the child is too young to have the resources to take care of themselves, says Tara Krueger, PsyD, national director of Family Therapy Services, Newport Healthcare.

Some examples of this parental behavior include: 

  • Frequently leaving young children at home without a caretaker in order to go on dates.
  • Guilt-tripping a child or teen into staying home with them instead of seeing friends because they're lonely.

Ideally, a parent would make sure they have a babysitter in place before scheduling social plans or find another healthy way to deal with their loneliness like calling a friend rather than relying solely on their child for emotional support.

People who have children at a young age may not be emotionally equipped for parenting and therefore may be more prone to emotionally abusing them. However, it could also be a sign of a personality disorder like narcissistic personality disorder, says Krueger. 

Kerwin also notes that a parent with autism can have trouble perceiving their child's needs and putting them first, and not even realize they're neglecting them in some way.

2. They isolate you

Isolation is a form of emotional abuse often used to gain control by severing ties to other friends, family members, and loved ones, according to Krueger. 

"By cutting children off from others, it could prevent them from developing social skills and from reaching out for help," she says.

According to Kerwin, some common signs your parent is trying to isolate you are:

  • They actively try to discourage you from having relationships with other family members.
  • They constantly come up with excuses as for why you can't see friends.
  • They take direct actions to restrict your communication with other people.
  • They arbitrarily and frequently lock you in your room for unpredictable amounts of time.

Kerwin notes that abusive isolation is different from, say, grounding a teenager for a week as a consequence for engaging in harmful behavior like abusing substances at a party.

Note: Kerwin says younger children — especially under the age of 3 — are more vulnerable to emotional abuse than older teens and adults — but anyone can experience it, including adults.

3. They intimidate you

"Intimidation can be an extreme form of emotional abuse, as it causes the victim to feel powerless, hopeless, and scared," says Krueger.

This behavior can take many different forms. A parent might have unpredictable emotional outbursts when you try to confront them about something, leaving you feeling unsafe to express your feelings and concerns. They might yell, scream, and swear at you, call you names, or even throw things when you disagree with them.

According to Krueger, poor emotional regulation, a lack of empathy, and a high need for control can cause a parent to resort to intimidation. She adds that people with borderline personality disorder may use intimidation as a desperate attempt to keep their children from abandoning them — for example, by threatening to never speak to you again if you hang up the phone or leave the house.

Emotional abuse like this can have ever-lasting effects on the child. For example, a 2021 study of university students found that of all the possible types of mistreatment, emotional abuse was associated with the highest incidence rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

4. They withhold affection

Emotional abuse can be harder to identify than physical abuse. Like, in some cases, it isn't marked by what a parent is doing but rather by what they're not doing. 

They may intentionally withhold affection as a means of influencing your behavior. According to Krueger, this can mean purposefully avoiding hugs, saying "I love you", and offering verbal praise. 

For example, when a parent gives you the cold shoulder after you tell them you can't come home for the holidays, or after you express an opinion that opposes theirs. This form of passive aggressive behavior sends the message that their love is conditional: only when you please them will they express their affection for you.

Krueger says this kind of abuse can lead you to constantly seek out their approval in order to get the affection you need.

"Adults who withhold affection may also have experienced abuse as a child," says Krueger. "This behavior may have been modeled for them and become a template for how to parent their own children."

5. They neglect you

Neglect is one of the most common forms of child emotional abuse. When a parent fails to meet a child's basic needs — like food, clothing, sleep, hygiene, and medical attention — that's considered neglect, says Krueger. 

Important: The CDC estimates children living in poverty are five times more likely to experience abuse. However, just because a child is living in poverty doesn't mean the parents are guilty of neglect. Neglect occurs when the parent doesn't use the resources available to them to care for their child, and therefore jeopardizes their health or safety.

Emotional neglect may entail:

  • Failing to give caring or loving responses when a child is suffering or ignoring them and reaches out for support.
  • Failing to provide psychological care for the child.
  • Allowing the child to use alcohol and drugs.

Neglect can be incredibly detrimental to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. A 2015 review found that emotional abuse during childhood is linked to poor immune system response and overall health in adulthood. 

This abuse can also stunt the development of a child's brain, thus leading to psychological problems and potentially triggering to high-risk behaviors. That may help explain why children and teens who are abused by caregivers are also more likely to become involved in criminal activity.

Very often, Krueger says parental neglect is a sign of a serious mental illness, like a mood disorder or substance use disorder, which compromises the parent's judgment or ability to meet their child's needs. In other words, a parent may simply be physically or psychologically unable to care for a child.

6. They compare you to others

Comparison is a natural human instinct — in the same way that a child may notice how their parents are a lot stricter than their friends, a parent may notice that another couple's child is far more well-behaved.  

However, as soon as your parent begins verbalizing these comparisons out loud to you, it can soon become abusive. 

For example, they might say: "Why can't you be more like [friend's name]?" or "Your cousin doesn't have any trouble finishing their homework, I don't know why it's so hard for you."

Or in households with more than one child, a parent may compare you to a sibling, says Kerwin. This can leave you feeling inferior to and even resentful of your brother or sister, increasing rivalry and damaging that relationship, as well.

There's a good chance your parent isn't comparing you to others to deliberately hurt you, but rather, in an attempt to motivate you to behave in a particular way that's more pleasing to them. 

Regardless of the intention, though, it can, "create short-term impacts such as anger and embarrassment, and even long-term impacts including diminished self-esteem and lack of trust in others," says Krueger.

A 2016 study found that emotional abuse is linked to a higher risk of many different kinds of mental disorders including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and substance use disorders.

A healthier way to motivate you would be to simply express whatever change they'd like to see without measuring you against someone else.

How to get help

If you think you've been emotionally abused by your parents, remember that you are not alone — and there are a number of resources you can use to get help.

Kerwin recommends that minors consider talking to a trusted adult — like a guidance counselor or teacher — about what they're experiencing at home. A trained staff member may be able to get the child additional support services, like a child or family psychologist, to ensure their safety and well-being.

Krueger notes that crisis text lines can be a great option for adolescents, teens, and adults who have their own cell phones. Some hotlines you can reach out to include:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE or text "START" to 88788, or use the online chat feature for free and confidential support 24/7.
  • Love Is Respect: Teens and young adults can call 1-866-331-9474, text "LOVEIS" to 22522, or use the online chat feature to seek advice and support from advocates.
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: Call or text 1-800-422-4453 to report abuse and/or get assistance finding free help and support in your area. 
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Hotline: Call 1-800-950-NAMI, text "NAMI" to 741-741, or utilize the online chat feature on the NAMI website to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Also, if you're independent and able, Krueger highly recommends seeking a licensed therapist, who can help you work through any trauma caused by the abuse. 

"For adults who are still suffering the effects, therapy can assist in working through resentments and understanding how their current relationships may be impacted by unresolved pain from their past," she says. 

Best online therapy providers

iStock; Gilbert Espinoza/Insider

Teletherapy is an accessible way to work with licensed mental health professionals, which we recommend in our guides to the best online therapy providers and free online therapy resources.

  • Best for full access to a self-selected therapist: BetterHelp, from $60 per week
  • Best for limited access to an assigned therapist, covered by insurance: TalkSpace, from $65 per week
  • Best for cheap online therapy and self-guided work:, from $31.96 per week

Insider's takeaway

Remember: There's nothing you could ever do to deserve being emotionally abused — especially by a parent, who's supposed to protect you, nurture you, and provide a safe environment for you to express your needs. 

There are many potential reasons why a parent might resort to emotional abuse, including if they're dealing with mental health conditions, substance use problems, or they're not emotionally ready to be a parent. 

Regardless of the reason or what they're going through, this mistreatment is never your fault and can be extremely dangerous for your short and long-term mental and physical health.

If any of the above signs sound familiar or you suspect that a parent may be abusing you, consider reaching out for help. Children might try talking with a trusted adult at school, while teens and adults can contact a therapist or domestic violence or crisis hotline.


Rebecca Strong

Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance writer covering health and wellness, food and wine, fitness, and travel. In addition to contributing to the Health Reference and Kitchen verticals at Insider, she has also written for Healthline, Health magazine, Bustle, StyleCaster, PopSugar, AskMen, and Elite Daily. You can follow her work on Twitter.

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Psychological child abuse | State Institution "Lyakhovichi Territorial Center for Social Services to the Population"

People express negative emotions in relation to others in different ways. Someone simply speaks badly about some person behind his back, and someone chooses a harsher and more unpleasant method of influence - psychological violence. Statistics show that the victim most often is not an adult, but a child. Minors are subjected to psychological violence in schools, on the street, at home. This is a very serious problem, because because of it, children's emotional behavior and development are disturbed. They have fears.

What is psychological abuse?

Psychological violence is also called emotional. This term refers to the periodic or constant insult of the child with some unpleasant words, the humiliation of his human dignity, the utterance of threats. Often, parents have formed the desired image of children. To achieve it, mothers and fathers present their children with such requirements that they are not able to fulfill due to age opportunities. This also applies to psychological abuse.

Negative attitude towards a child has very serious consequences. He ceases to be happy. He begins to suffer from his own feelings. The child withdraws into himself, loses confidence in the people around him. In the future, all this leads to problems in building relationships. Another negative consequence is low self-esteem. For example, peers at school may call a child scary, stupid. With such thoughts about himself, he grows in the future.

Problem classification into forms

What can be considered psychological abuse of a child? Experts identify several forms of this problem. Here are the main ones:

  1. Degradation. With this form, children or adults influence a particular child with rude words, curses, name-calling, ridicule in front of other people.
  2. Ignore. This form of violence is most often observed on the part of adults - parents. They do not pay attention to their child, they are not interested in his successes and achievements. He does not feel affection, care, love. Naturally, such an attitude depresses the child.
  3. Repulsion. This feature of behavior is manifested by the fact that parents push their child away, constantly drive him away, that is, they make it clear that they do not need him.
  4. Terrorization. In this form of abuse, the child is constantly threatened by something. They threaten him, make demands that are impossible at this age stage.

In various books on education, articles on psychological abuse of children, special attention is paid to isolation. This is another form of the problem. Its essence lies in various prohibitions (for example, you can’t communicate with peers, go for a walk with them). Sometimes, during isolation, parents resort to additional physical violence - they lock the child alone in an apartment, room, and sometimes even in a closet, beat him if he violates the prohibitions.

Signs of psychological abuse

When a child becomes a victim of psychological abuse, this can be guessed from certain behavioral patterns. The following signs are observed:

the child develops anxiety, excessive anxiety;

appetite is disturbed;

feeling depressed;

self-esteem decreases;

minor avoids peers, adults,

seeks to retire; sometimes, due to psychological abuse, a child develops such a character trait as aggressiveness;

sleep is disturbed due to negative emotions;

the child begins to pay less attention to studies, gets poor grades at school;

constant threats, insults, bullying by peers or adults lead to suicide attempts.

As early as childhood, psychological abuse causes health problems. Physical and mental development is delayed, enuresis, nervous tics, and obesity occur. Emotional abuse affects the brain. This ultimately causes a predisposition to various diseases:

coronary heart disease;

chronic fatigue syndrome;

oncological diseases, etc.

Domestic violence and advice to parents

Psychological violence in the family against a child occurs for various reasons.

First, parents may simply not love their child. It's terrifying. This reason simply does not fit in the head. How can you not love your own child, because he is the future of parents. Abusive moms and dads need to be talked to. Relatives also need help. If the parents do not come to their senses, then it is best for the child to live, for example, with his grandmother.

Another common reason is demands on the child. It is important to remember that you cannot force another person to do something. Requirements that are impossible to fulfill or that the child does not like can suppress the will and cause a depressed state.

Commandments of wise parents

There are 4 commandments of wise parents. They can help avoid psychological abuse of a child, because mothers and fathers do not always realize that their upbringing is wrong and leads to negative consequences.

First, never try to make the best out of your child. Not all people are the same. Each person is endowed with certain abilities and capabilities.

Secondly, do not compare your child with other children, do not reproach him for not achieving something, like some of his classmates.

Thirdly, do not threaten the child, do not blackmail him. Otherwise, you will cause him only fear, shame. Your child may think that you just do not love him.

Fourth, do not sort things out with a child in front of witnesses, even if he has done something. It is better to discuss the problem at home, find out the reason. When misbehaving, shame the child, but remember that there should be a measure in everything.

A problem at school Absolutely any child can become a victim of school bullying. The likelihood of this is greatly increased if he is calm, not too active and sociable. His offenders can be class leaders, aggressive children who have found a victim for self-affirmation or who always strive to be in the spotlight.

A child will always tell about psychological abuse if he trusts his parents. With a secretive nature, lack of trust in the family, the opposite situation is observed. The child does not share his experiences and problems with anyone. It is possible to guess that he became a victim of psychological violence at school. The presence of this problem is indicated by the following nuances:

the child does not want to go to school;

he doesn't talk about his classmates;

his things are sometimes torn or soiled;

The child returns home after school in a depressed state.

What to do if a child is abused during school

Psychological abuse of children at school is a problem that should be solved by parents together with the class teacher. The teacher, as a rule, is aware of everything that happens in the classroom. You can also talk to the mothers and fathers of the offenders. If a minor has been a victim of abuse for a long time, then the best way out is to change schools or temporarily transfer to home schooling.

If a child does not want to transfer to another school, then parents should give him some advice on how to deal with ridicule, insults:

who does this;

an effective way to deal with offenders is to show them that their unpleasant words do not hurt or upset at all;

in response to the insults of the offenders, you can simply laugh (if you demonstrate such behavior every time, then after a while, peers will simply become uninteresting in “poisoning” their victim).

Liability for child abuse in the Republic of Belarus

The legislation of the Republic of Belarus establishes several types of liability for persons who abuse a child.

Administrative responsibility. The Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Belarus provides for liability for failure to perform or improper performance of duties for the maintenance, upbringing, education, protection of the rights and interests of minors - in the form of a warning or the imposition of an administrative fine.

Criminal liability. Belarusian criminal legislation provides for liability for all types of physical and sexual abuse of children, as well as for a number of articles - for mental abuse and for neglecting the basic needs of children, lack of care for them.

Civil liability. Abuse of a child may serve as a basis for bringing parents (persons replacing them) to liability in accordance with family law.

types of psychological violence in the family and its impact on children

Psychological violence has many subtypes and, unfortunately, many of them are so familiar to us that we do not notice how we carry it out in relation to ourselves, others and even our own children . Many of the forms of psychological violence are still included in the norms of the educational system, passed down from generation to generation and thus support the culture of violence in society, giving a tacit right to such communication.


A form of psychological violence based on manipulative actions, the main purpose of which is to make a person doubt the objectivity of their perception, as well as reality itself.

How it looks in the plane of the parent-child relationship

Imagine a situation: there is a scandal in the house, mom quarreled with dad, they shout loudly at each other, or dad screamed, and mom cried, or they didn’t scream, but hissed at each other and saying terrible things, and my mother was crying again.

A child enters the room, he is anxious and worried about what he heard behind the door:

« Has something happened? " the kid asks. “ No ,” the parents answer, and at the same time both are shaking from negative feelings. « But you were screaming?! "- the kid is trying to clarify the situation. « No, it seemed to you! "-" But mother is crying?! "-" No, everything is all right! ".

The kid walks out the door and begins to doubt whether there really was a quarrel or it seemed to him.

Or another option: the child approaches the parent with a question, with an uncomfortable question or one in which the parent is incompetent (but it is difficult and painful to admit this).

« Why are there so many stars in the sky? ” or “ Where do babies come from? ", or " Why do people swear? ", and in response, instead of an explanation, the child receives a dry:" You are behaving strangely. Are you sick? What are the questions? ".

With the help of such manipulations, people often avoid uncomfortable topics or give themselves the opportunity not to talk about what they do not want to talk about. But, instead of a direct and honest answer, they choose gaslighting.

What does this lead to in the future

A small person grows up, and in his head an opinion is formed that something is wrong with him, he doubts himself, his adequacy, literacy, ability to see reality. If gaslighting is the main way parents avoid adult responsibility or the method of manifestation " protecting the child from the harsh reality ", in the future this will strengthen the prohibition do not be mentally healthy , and the person will confirm the parental program that he is strange and he got sick.

What to do

Change your reality. Admit your parenting mistakes and talk honestly with your child. Even if you had a fight with your spouse and the child witnessed this, do not distort reality, be honest: yes, you had a fight, you were wrong, you didn’t want to disturb you, and we are sorry that this happened.

Learn to answer uncomfortable questions and/or admit that you do not know something, that you do not want to talk about a topic, but understand that it is important for the child to clarify this or that issue, and try to find a healthy solution for this or find a person who can competently answer "uncomfortable questions."

If you want to postpone a conversation, learn to state how long it will be delayed, or accept that you won't talk about it and give an honest reason why not. This will enable the child to understand that it is possible to be honest and responsible, that it is possible to not know something, and that it is possible to openly say “no” and not resort to distorting reality in order to feel better than another.


Another violent form of education based on manipulation and violent methods. When a person does not know how to achieve his goal, and at the same time really wants to force it to be his will, otherwise it is a loss and failure, he resorts to ultimatums, blackmail and other negative forms of communication that allow him to control another with the help of fear.

How it looks in the plane of the parent-child relationship

The parent wants everything to be correct, as he said and nothing else, while he may have the conviction that the elder should not explain anything to the younger, or these rules everyone has long known, which means that a child will be born with knowledge of how and what works in this world, what is good and what is bad. And suddenly something goes wrong, the child does not obey, is naughty, does not want to eat, begins to touch things without asking or interfere with the parent to do important things. It would be nice to sit down and explain to the child how and what works, but there is no strength, time, desire, or the old template works - the one that was used with you in your distant childhood (it worked for you and it will pass here). And you scare the child with horror stories that are passed on as a family heirloom.

« One more stupid question and I'll slap you on the lips; if you climb where you don’t need to, you will break your leg; curious Varvara - her nose was torn off; if you try to be clever, I will rip out your tongue; if you behave like this, we’ll leave you in the forest ... ” is a list of toxic horror stories, I won’t continue, I think you have something to add to it.

Why toxic? Because the child up to a certain age believes the parent and the fact that for an adult an element of black humor is true for a child. Children really believe that if they are not comfortable, something terrible will happen to them. Or they begin to doubt your authority, thinking that his parent is cruel and evil, that he does not love the child and wishes him harm. So, you need to come up with a way to escape from the evil parent, thereby getting rid of fear.

What does it lead to in the future

Regular bullying forms a negative program, in which a person is convinced that any action he takes is doomed to failure, no matter what he undertakes, everything will not be as it should be. That his task is to be comfortable, courteous, correct. And he begins to fulfill the desires of others or lives in constant fear of punishment, and at the slightest conflict feels like a loser and runs away.

It is important to remember that by scaring a child with the best of intentions, you are doing him a disservice: by not clarifying the true state of things with him, you unwittingly contribute to the fact that the development of logic is inhibited and it is difficult for the child to build cause-and-effect relationships.

What to do

Stop for a minute and listen to yourself, remember if you were pleased to hear such horror stories as a child, how did you feel? What did you think of your parents at that moment? Did you feel safe? Perhaps you wanted these stories to develop in a different, more positive way, for your parents to clarify with you why not, to openly talk about their feelings, that they are worried about you, instead of keeping you in fear of duty on Principle if you are not convenient for me, I will eat you .

Learn with your children, ask yourself what happens to you when a child does not obey or does not do as you wish. Look for healthy compromises and opportunities to negotiate so that both you and the baby feel good and comfortable.


A form of indirect violence that is not directed specifically at a person, but occurs next to him, in front of his eyes or “behind the wall”, when a person hears and understands that someone nearby is hurt, scared and ill, feeling at this is their powerlessness and inability to influence and change the situation for the better.

What it looks like in the parent-child relationship.

Imagine a family with an older and a younger child. The older one was guilty of something (he skipped school, did not warn that he would be late or did another offense). And now he is punished - painfully and cruelly, beaten, shouted, scolded and devalued. Yes, parents are angry and see no other way to solve the problem. All this happens in front of the youngest child, he does not quite understand what exactly happened, he only knows that some parental rules were violated and the punishment was not long in coming. The kid is scared and hurt, he tries to protect the elder, but it's useless, they push him away and say " don't go ".

It also happens that in front of a child, a parent beats or insults another, and again the child is powerless in trying to change something, he is scared and feels guilty, fantasizing and strengthening himself in the thought that all this is because of him and in In the future, he needs to make every effort so that this does not happen again.

Attributes also include judgmental discussions of third parties, verbal harassment, and talk about what you would do with « Lyuska from the house next door, if you were in the place of her parents " or about how you would " kick Stasik's ears if you get him next time" .

Your child may not be present at this dialogue, however, as often happens, he is behind the wall and hears everything, he may not agree with you, but he does not dare to contradict, so as not to provoke anger, or he is afraid, suddenly he has already done something similar and now does not want to receive a terrible punishment directly. He is afraid to clarify this issue and with the help of his fantasies he punishes himself, enhances the effect, frightens himself even more and drives him into an internal conflict of anger, fear and helplessness.

What will this lead to in the future? some important matter; they will be either fighters for justice, furiously rushing to protect the weak, solving other people's problems even to the detriment of themselves, or aggressors seeking to control everything and everyone around, so as not to experience the horror of powerlessness when you cannot change anything, but are forced to watch, how it hurts another, and wait for everything to end.

Such people consider themselves responsible for the relationships of others, think that everything bad happens because of them, and tend to avoid close relationships so as not to experience pain.

Shifting personal responsibility

Also refers to a toxic form of psychological abuse. And it goes according to the formula " I feel bad - and it's your fault, and while I blame you, I can not be responsible for myself, my decisions, actions and inaction ".

When an adult does not cope with something, feels out of order or a victim, he wants someone to decide for him. And yes, these are no longer adult reactions, but a psychotic regression to the level of a child. That's just this inner Child is not kind, but aggressive, embittered and does not see healthy choices and decisions. And then it doesn’t matter who your opponent is, a peer or your real child, you only want one thing - to make the other one to blame for your troubles, because this is an opportunity again and again to put off actions, make important decisions and avoid personal responsibility.

How it looks in terms of the parent-child relationship

how it hurt her.

When you hear a story about how happy a parent was before the birth of a child, and how everything changed after the birth of a child – weight gain, hormonal changes, hair became worse and the skin is not the same.

When a parent, in a fit of anger, begins to tell a child that, “if it weren’t for you and your father/mother, I would have achieved great success, would have gone to university, had a good job, would have been an actress, a ballerina, etc. .d., and now I’m sitting here in the kitchen frying cutlets for you, and you are not grateful…”

Or like this: “ you are just like your father, evil and cruel” ; “ you are as stupid as your mother…”

Scary? I really. Because violence is always scary. And it is worth recognizing that when a small person, without his good will, is forced to take responsibility for the life, health, relationships of adults, violence is committed against him.

The toxicity of this form of relationship is that at the psychological level the prohibitions “don’t be, don’t live, don’t belong” are reinforced — these prohibitions are painful and destructive, and the child, in order to survive, begins to look for special conditions that give him the right to exist .

What does this lead to in the future

Such people must be perfect, please others, be strong - and then they can live, but not for themselves, but in order to justify hopes or "defend the good name of the father. " In order to become successful instead of mom and dad, to reach heights - and it doesn’t matter if you want it or not, because you have to pay for the inconvenience and torment that your parent endured.

How many children have grown up and achieved success not because of support, but in spite of? How many adults still hold themselves responsible for a parent's divorce or a parent's inability to take care of themselves?

Alas, such forms of relationships between children and parents still exist, as they are considered the norm. After all, until a parent learns to take responsibility for himself, he does not admit that he was wrong, and will not be able to give the child sincere permission to LIVE, without special conditions, and not be responsible where the field of responsibility of another begins.


A form of violence in which there is a deliberate “non-remarking” of a communication partner.

When there is no skill to conduct a healthy, adult dialogue and at the same time you want to satisfy the need for power and significance, people often resort to this form of emotional abuse. For a person, there is nothing more terrible than indifference and / or interaction without feelings. That is why boycotts and ignorance work in most cases. At the same time, the main problem is not solved, but postponed for later, only a bitter residue remains in the soul of the one who was subjected to an act of violence and an imaginary, short-term triumph of another who, in such a cruel way, satisfied his leading need for at least a short time. And then all over again: problem - dead end - ignore - imaginary triumph . An endless, cruel game, the retribution of which has always been and will be the pain of one and the loneliness of the other.

How it looks in the plane of the parent-child relationship

In this context, I mean punishing the child by ignoring, when the parent purposefully withdraws from contact with the child, without explaining what happened, what the child made a mistake or was guilty of , and most importantly, how long it will not be noticed.

In essence, the formula for this type of psycho-emotional violence looks like this: “I see you only when you do what I tell you to do, if you make a mistake or do otherwise, you are gone ”. And, perhaps, you are achieving what you want, but isn’t the child paying too high a price for your temporary “success”?

What happens to a child at such moments

  • A child under the age of three forms prohibitions in his life scenario: “don't be, don't belong, don't feel”. He experiences a horror that permeates his entire body and remains there for many years, because on a psychological level, ignoring by a parent is death for a child. He does not know when he will be seen again and does not understand how to fix the situation. For him, the parent left forever, and he will be left alone and die, which means you need to come up with something in order to survive and prevent such a situation.
  • A child of 5-7 years of age strengthens in his scenario prohibitions, languishes with feelings of guilt, fear of rejection and a sense of abandonment, and forms all his actions and decisions based on the desire to avoid these negative feelings and states.
  • A teenager who was brought up by means of ignoring and in any incomprehensible situation they said “ sit and think about your behavior ”, is already firmly entrenched in the complex of the abandoned and the guilty. He either shows over-adaptation, humility and infantilism, or takes revenge on his parents by running away from home, making scandals and / or ignoring them.

What does this lead to in the future

Children who grow up in an atmosphere of indifference and neglect become adults who cannot solve problems, stand up for themselves and build relationships. They are vulnerable in feelings of guilt, in various fears and avoid intimacy by any means, not because they do not want acceptance and love, but because they consider themselves unworthy of it and are afraid to experience cruel punishment again, codenamed “ you are not like that to me.” need ”, or they themselves severely punish those around them, trying in a similar way to close painful episodes from their childhood.

Why do adults do this to their children? Perhaps this was how they behaved with them in their distant childhood, then they promised themselves that they would never act like their parents did, but, faced with the difficulties of upbringing, they joined the usual pattern. And yes, knowing deep in their souls that they doom themselves to emotional loneliness, they act on the orders of their toxic inner Parent again and again:0145 worked for you, will pass here too.”

Such ways of influencing a child also indicate that parents have not developed the skill to negotiate, to insist on their own, to express their feelings at the moment. There is no knowledge of how to satisfy one's needs for significance and importance without resorting to ignoring the other.

And all this can be learned, but the first thing to do today, is to stop ignoring and intentionally not to see the one who made a mistake.

What to do next

Learn to build understanding with your children, explain and teach them the rules of behavior, be supportive and consistent, do not change your decisions and reward children for success. Learn to reinforce positive behavior by setting clear deadlines and specific goals. And step by step you will acquire your parental authority, which means you will remove your personal deficit of significance.

Forms of emotional abuse also include regular devaluation child on emotional, intellectual and physical levels; comparing him with others and public humiliation; failure to fulfill promises on the part of parents or ignoring his personal desires, needs, opinions, achievements, emotions; double messages (do what I say, not what I do) and double standards (I can - you can't).

This attitude on the part of adults reinforces in the child the idea that he is unsuccessful and unsuccessful, that his task is to be a scapegoat, that his ideas, feelings, thoughts are not important. So, if parents do not need it, then no one needs it either.

People who grew up in an atmosphere of devaluation do not see their successes, but see only mistakes on their life path, motivate themselves through a minus charge, that is, in order to do something, they need to lower themselves to the very bottom and thereby the most "to please the Parent", who only expected them to fail. They are jealous and envious and in relationships experience a regular fear of being abandoned and rejected, they compete and do not know how to cooperate.

Non-intervention and connivance

Indirect permission for child abuse and/or permission for deviant disruptive behaviour. Sometimes we allow ourselves to stand aside and not interfere in conflicts that are not directly related to us. And, on the one hand, in this way we give the parties the opportunity to resolve issues on their own - this is the right decision, but, on the other hand, it is important to clearly understand for yourself when to step aside, and when to intervene and act as a wise judge.

When two children beat each other over a shoulder blade, we can give them time to figure it out for themselves and defend their personal boundaries. However, if an adult intervenes in the conflict from one side, we cannot stand aside and leave our child without support and protection.

When a child’s conflict goes beyond the norm and behavior, when one child bullies another, when your child is being bullied at school or made an outcast of the class – you cannot wait until it passes by itself and not intervene, not help the child get out of this situation and save yourself.

When a teacher gets into a conflict with a child or a child complains to you about a prejudiced attitude on the part of the teacher, you cannot say that the teacher is always right and refuse to help the child without clarifying what happened.

When you are told that your child has done something wrong, you cannot punish the child without clarifying the situation from all sides.

When something happens to a child, and you stay on the sidelines or push him away according to the principle: “ if they treat you like that, then there is a reason”, - with your non-interference you give the right to violence towards to your child, which means that in the future he will face the fact that he will provoke such an attitude towards himself, recognizing himself as an eternal victim. Or he will begin to show aggression towards the weaker ones, thereby trying to level his position in life and receive emotional satisfaction.

Connivance — is when everything is possible for a child when a parent does not interfere with the child's self-destructive behavior, when they turn a blind eye to the use of alcohol, drugs, violation of social norms, frequent conflicts or other negative manifestations on a psychological and emotional level.

Sometimes you really want to lay down your hands and absolve yourself of responsibility, to say "I have nothing to do with it and these are not my problems." However, it is important to remember that by turning a blind eye to this, you give the child the right to use violence against himself, which means destroying himself, his system with your quiet consent.

What a Parent can give a Child

Unconditional love! It is necessary to bypass negative programs and prescriptions, helping the child to form a healthy personality; give permission and not indulge in destructive behaviors. It is so simple and so difficult at the same time, because for this you need to say goodbye to the old patterns of education and fill yourself with new adequate knowledge. And yet, being a mature adult is a good prospect for society.

I believe that your families do not resort to any form of forced education. However, if it so happened that, while reading this article, you recognized yourself and realized that you periodically break into child abuse, remember that it is in your power to fix everything. The purpose of this article is not to find the guilty, but to help to understand the erroneous parenting strategies and their consequences.

It is important to remember that the task of parents is to create a relationship with the child where he can feel safe, know that he is expected, loved and accepted at home, and that even if he made a mistake or experienced violence outside the home, he can come and clear things up with the parents. The psychological literacy of parents, as well as the psychological development of the child, are two interrelated concepts. However, it is worth remembering that everything needs a balance. When developing a child psychologically, it is important to correlate the load with his age, and remember the needs of his body: the necessary level of physical activity and proper nutrition, taking into account the needs of the body and the necessary microelements. The same lack of fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 can lead to increased aggression and hyperactivity.

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