Signs of emotionally abusive mothers

15 Signs You Had An Emotionally Abusive Parent But Didn’t Know It


#9: They were over-involved in your life.

by Natalia Lusinski and JR Thorpe


Originally Published: 

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You might think of your upbringing as healthy, but perhaps there were some signs your mom or dad were not as unconditionally nice as they could have been. Maybe you consistently brushed off their behavior or made excuses for it — “They were just having a bad day.” Or maybe now, as an adult, a friend tells you about their emotionally abusive mother — and their experiences feel eerily familiar. Growing up with an emotionally abusive parent can be confusing. When this realization hits, it can change the way you interpret all your memories of childhood.

“Emotional abuse is often used interchangeably with the term psychological abuse,” Carolyn Cole, LCPC, LMFT, NCC, tells Bustle. "Emotional abuse is abusing someone in ways that can be seen as traumatic. It is making someone feel like they are less-than, worthless, or not good enough. This can be incredibly painful when a parent does this to a child, as a child trusts that a parent is going to love them unconditionally.”

Cole says that once someone is able to understand what they experienced, they can become aware of how it impacts them as an adult. Then they can work with a therapist to make changes in the way they interact with others.

If you’re curious about signs that you had an emotionally abusive parent, below, experts weigh in.


They Were Overly Moody

It’s important to recognize how moody your parent was while you were growing up. “If a parent’s mood swings made you feel like you were always walking on eggshells and you were always nervous or scared of what would happen when they were around (even if nothing ‘bad’ ever happened), that’s emotionally abusive behavior,” Christi Garner, LMFT, tells Bustle. “This higher level of stress while growing up causes changes in the body and brain, and can have long-term effects on health."


They Were Overly Critical & Negative Toward You

Garner feels that an overly critical parent who focused on the negative things about you counts as emotional abuse. “If you still can hear their negative comments in your mind, and you can trace them back to your parent, or they still say these things to you daily, you know they are taking their negative feelings about themselves out on you, which can lead to self-esteem issues and insecurity," she says.

As a result, as an adult, you may find that it’s hard to turn off the negative self-talk, according to Tom Bruett, MS, LMFT. “Notice if you are extremely hard on yourself,” he tells Bustle. “Typically, it can be the voice of a critical or abusive parent that we have internalized.”


They Invalidated Or Dismissed Your Emotions

Just as you’d like a romantic partner to be emotionally available, think back to whether your parent was, too. “One example might be a child being told they are too sensitive,” Cole says. “Another is a child saying they felt like they wanted to harm themselves and being told they are just trying to get attention.”


They Were Passive-Aggressive

When someone’s passive-aggressive, they don’t tell you what’s really bothering them. “If you had a parent who was passive-aggressive, pleasant on the surface, but cold underneath, it’s likely a sign of emotional abuse,” psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., tells Bustle.


They Were Overly Anxious

“If your parent was overly anxious and always asking for you to help them or take care of them or their needs, the child inherits a piece of that anxiety,” Garner says. “The heightened level of anxiety can also lead to increased levels of cortisol in the child, which has been shown to cause health-related problems later in life.”


They Guilted You

You can probably recognize when someone guilts you into doing something, and it’s critical to think back to whether your parent did this, too. “An emotionally abusive parent guilts you,” Cole says. “They may say something like, ‘I gave up so much to have you and you treat me like this.’”


They Gave You The Silent Treatment

Isn’t it frustrating when you want to discuss a problem with somebody and they choose to ignore you instead? Well, such is the case with an emotionally abusive parent, too. “They gave you the silent treatment,” Cole says. “If you upset them, they shut down and ignored you until you apologized to them.”


They Were Physically Present, But Emotionally Absent

Was your parent there, but not really there? “Another indicator of emotional abuse is if you had a parent who was physically present, but otherwise absent — working on the computer, phone, or locked in a home office, talking to everyone but you, or lost in a drug- or alcohol-induced haze,” Tessina says. “Now, as an adult, you may not know how to interact with people in a healthy way, or you may feel disconnected and lost.


They Were Over-Involved In Your Life

“If your parent was over-involved, to the point of constantly looking through your journals, social media accounts, watching your emails, and always dropping in on your conversations, they might have been emotionally abusive,” Garner says. “Being overly involved in everything you did and not giving you appropriate space (physical, mental, and emotional) could be a sign of enmeshment.”


You Blame Yourself For Other People’s Bad Behavior

When someone mistreats you and you blame yourself, not them, it may be another sign your parent was emotionally abusive. “If someone hurts you or treats you badly, that’s on them,” Bruett says. “However, sometimes as children, we learn that we have to put up with people treating us badly in order to survive. As adults, we can recreate these dynamics in other relationships.”


You Exhibit Self-Destructive Behavior(s)

If you’re demonstrating self-destructive behavior, it may be another sign that a parent was emotionally abusive. “Self-destructive behaviors, like addiction, risky sex, or self-harm, can be coping skills for handling big feelings,” Bruett says. “Of course, not all people who exhibit these behaviors have had abusive childhoods, but there is often a higher chance that this is the case.”


Deep Down, You Feel Anger Toward Your Parent(s)

To this day, if you still feel anger toward your parent, it may be because of how they acted toward you in the past. “The parent in question may be nice to you now, they may treat you reasonably well, but you have an anger, a rage, or an angst when you think about them,” clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., tells Bustle. “You may actually not be able to explain why, as you may have blocked out the abusive actions."


You Still Fear How Your Parent Will React To Most Of Your Decisions

If you still fear how they’ll react to most of your life decisions, you may have had an emotionally abusive mother or father. “You make decisions on your own, but with the thought and anxiety that your parent won’t approve,” Klapow says. He says this is because a parent who was hypercritical of their children set up a situation where kids become afraid of making choices. “This doesn’t assure that abuse was present, but it’s a sign that the parenting style was harmful.”


You Try To Manage Your Partner’s Emotions

Relationship specialist Jen Elmquist, MA, LMFT, believes that a clear indicator that you had an emotionally abusive parent can be found in how you act toward your partner. “When parents struggle to regulate their own emotions, children learn to take care of their feelings for them,” she tells Bustle. “This is a result of being parentified, a role reversal where a child adopts the responsibility of the parent because the parent isn’t capable of managing on their own.”

Elmquist says this may present itself in various ways in your current romantic relationship, including saying "I'm sorry" when you don't mean it, and feeling guilty for no reason.


You’re In A Toxic Relationship

If you find you often pick romantic partners that have traits like your parent(s), both good and bad, it’s something to be mindful of, Bruett says. “Oftentimes, we pick partners that make us feel familiar,” he says. “If we came from an abusive or neglectful household, we tend to attract people who will treat us the same way. Of course, you can break the cycle, but the first step is noticing it.”

“Sometimes, people have no idea their parents were emotionally abusive until they get older and learn more about their friends’ or partners’ families,” Cole says. “That’s when they realize that what they experienced wasn’t healthy.”

If you feel some of the signs resonate and that the way you were raised affects your relationships — interpersonal and/or romantic ones — it’s best to seek help via a therapist.


Tom Bruett, MS, LMFT.

Carolyn Cole, LCPC, LMFT, NCC

Jen Elmquist, MA, LMFT

Christi Garner, LMFT

Joshua Klapow, Ph. D

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.

This article was originally published on

13 Signs You Have An Emotionally Abusive Parent

Mental Health

Last Update on July 28, 2022 : Published on July 8, 2021

Our parents are supposed to love and care for us unconditionally. Parents provide us stability, they are our nurturers, carers, and they are there to help us grow and become a better person. They teach us how to be confident and strong.

A parent-child dynamic can be complex and it can have a lasting impact on you and your future. Many a time, I read news reports about abuse from parents to their children and any kind of physical abuse can leave scars on the body but emotional abuse is that kind of abuse that leaves more scars, albeit invisible, than physical abuse does.

Emotional abuse is not just manipulation and belittling the other, it is more than that. Emotional abuse can diminish your confidence, affect your self-worth, and make you feel ‘less-than’ – even when you’re not.

There are instances where people don’t realize that their parents are emotionally abusing them. Sometimes, we write off emotional abuse as our parents had “a bad day”.

However, it is not a healthy parent-child relationship where the parent constantly undermines you and makes you feel unworthy. It is not a healthy parent-child relationship where the child has to feel like they have to earn their parent’s love.

Here are 8 signs of emotional abuse from parents and what you can do about it:

1. They Belittle You

Negative remarks, name-calling, and verbal reprimands are common when it comes to emotional abuse. Parents, if they call you hurtful names in the guise of “tough love” can be a sign of emotional abuse from parents. When a parent belittles your efforts, your achievements, your personality, or your appearance, they are being abusive.

A parent raising their voice or teasing their child isn’t wrong, per se but constantly undermining and belittling is. This kind of behavior can severely damage a child’s confidence in themselves in the future and can leave them feeling unworthy and undeserving of love.

2. They Criticize You

Criticism is a part of growing up. It is how we learn to grow and learn from our mistakes. All healthy relationships involve a degree of constructive criticism which is okay but in emotional and mental abuse from parents, criticism can become a tool and can destroy a child’s self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.

If your parents are overly critical of you and your behavior, all the time, it is a sign of emotional abuse from parents. Parents are known to provide criticism when needed but when that criticism overshadows your positive achievements, then it is not constructive criticism. This kind of behavior can lead a child to develop negative self-talk and a poor perception of their self-image.

3. They Invalidate Your Emotions

Parents try their best to help us when we are in need, but when a parent refuses to acknowledge your emotions or refuses to validate them as important, then it is another sign of emotional abuse from parents. For example, if your parents tell you that “you’re too sensitive”, it is them invalidating your emotions.

This can lead a child to develop commitment issues in the future and it can diminish their self-worth along with their emotional skills and intelligence.

4. They Guilt You In Doing Things

Another sign of abusive parents is that they will use ‘guilt trips’ to manipulate their child into doing things. This tactic may appear non-threatening and can make you feel guilty like not doing what they said is somehow your fault. If your parent is not communicating with you clearly and is using your words against you, then it is a sign that they are emotionally abusing you.

Emotional manipulation, in so many ways, is wrong and can impact how your future relationships – personally and professionally – work.

5. They Give You The ‘Silent Treatment’

Another sign to look out for is when your parents give you the “Silent Treatment”. If your parents are unsatisfied with something you did or are upset with you for some reason, they will resort to not talking to you.

Giving silent treatment is another sign of mental abuse from parents. They will make it so that you’re compelled to make the first move to fix things – even if you did nothing wrong.

This kind of behavior can affect a child and their ability to find and maintain a healthy personal relationship in the future.

6. They Are Emotionally Unavailable

Another sign of emotional abuse from parents is when your parent is physically present but emotionally absent. You live under the same roof but your parents are not there for you? This can negatively affect your communication skills and can make you feel disconnected and aloof.

Being emotionally available as well as physically present is important in any relationship and not doing that can affect your self-confidence and self-worth negatively.

7. They Are Over-Involved In Your Life

Keeping and maintaining healthy boundaries is essential for every relationship whether it be a parent-child relationship, spousal relationship, or work relationship. In a parent-child relationship, maintaining boundaries means letting your child explore the world and giving them enough space to learn and grow on their own without the fear of judgment.

A sign of abusive parents is when they refuse to give a child enough privacy and is overly involved in their personal life. This could mean – in childhood – one or both parents rifling through your personal belongings and – in adulthood – it could mean asking inappropriate questions about your personal life, finances, or work.

8. They Blame You For Their Problems

Another sign of emotional abuse from a parent can be them refusing to take responsibility for their behavior and instead, blaming you for their stress and problems. An emotionally abusive father or mother will place blame for their actions on the feet of their child or other family members.

These kinds of behaviors aren’t to be ignored. Later in life, this emotional manipulation and abuse can lead you to develop low confidence and other mental health problems or personality disorders.

9. They Are Passive-Aggressive

Being passive-aggressive is a sign of emotional abuse from parents in adults too. Passive-aggressive people don’t come out and say what’s bothering them, however, they’ll continue to seethe on the inside. On the surface, your parents might look calm and collected but on the inside, they are quite the opposite.

10. They Don’t Apologize For Their Behavior

Even if your parents had a bad day and snapped at you in anger, they would later apologize for their behaviors. An emotionally abusive father or mother, on the other hand, would refuse to apologize or even acknowledge that their behavior was inappropriate. They would, instead, tell their child that they are being oversensitive.

Emotionally abusive parents lack the desire to recognize their inappropriate behavior and apologize for their actions. Even if they do apologize, their apology will lack sincerity.

11. They Withhold Affection And Compliments

All children want to please their parents and all parents like to boast about their children’s activities. Not in the case of emotionally abusive fathers or mothers. In such cases, parents tend to hold or avoid showing affection and compliments even when their child deserves it.

As I mentioned in an earlier point, emotionally abusive parents tend to be criticizing and would rather withhold affection and use phrases to make you feel less-than.

12. They Threaten Abuse

Another sign of emotional abuse from parents can include might a threat of physical abuse or violence, even if they don’t follow through. This emotionally abusive tactic creates an environment that can make a child feel unsafe. This can be just as harmful and worse than physical abuse.

For example: using intimidation as a tactic. Such actions might result in a person developing PTSD or similar issues.

13. They Verbally Abuse You

One other subtle sign of mental and emotional abuse from parents includes using belittling and harmful words or phrases toward you. Childhood verbal abuse can increase the risk of developing personality disorders, psychiatric disorders, relationships, and trust issues in the future.

Verbal abuse, in a parent-child relationship, can result in a child developing traumatic issues which, in the future, may prevent them from trusting others, opening up to others, or even harm their work and social relationships.

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Impact Of Emotional Abuse In A Parent-Child Relationship

Emotional abuse from parents can leave invisible scars and a lasting impression on a child’s psyche. This behavior can lead a child to develop problems such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Codependency
  • Introversion
  • Loneliness
  • Inability to develop nurturing relationships
  • Attention-seeking behavior
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health problems
  • Addiction

Emotional abuse from parents can leave you feeling less-than and undeserving. This kind of behavior, especially from a parent can make you unable to form healthy and nurturing relationships with others in the future and can affect your ability to raise your children healthily.

It is, however, essential to put boundaries and ask for space if you’re experiencing these signs of emotional or mental abuse from your parent(s). If you’re still facing troubles with setting healthy boundaries and require additional support from a licensed counselor, then don’t hesitate to reach out. You can write to us at [email protected] as well.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is it OK to Cut off Toxic Parents?

Yes! Toxic parents can cause you to experience psychological, emotional, physical, and social distress. Having healthy boundaries in a family relationship is important even if it means cutting toxic parents and relationships out.

2. Why do Abusive Parents Deny?

Abusive parents, more often than not, have a “reason” for their actions and as a trait, they never acknowledge that they are in the wrong. If confronted, the abusive parent will view themselves as a victim. Behind the web of their manipulation, criticism, and harsh words lies denial.

3. Why do I Minimize the Abuse?

A person minimizes the abuse because for many minimizing is a coping mechanism to get through the pain of the abuse. For some, though, they minimize their abuse because they want to believe their abuser still loves them – especially if it’s a parent. Others might minimize their abuse because their abuser does.

Final Thoughts…

Abuse of either kind – from parents, spouses, or friends – is not okay and no one should be subjected to it from a parent, specifically. Parents are supposed to love us unconditionally and we shouldn’t feel like we have to earn that love and care.

No one – even your parents – have the authority to undermine and demean you. You are strong enough on your own. If you are a victim of emotional abuse, I’d suggest that you contact a licensed therapist to help you break the cycle.

I hope the above-mentioned signs of emotional abuse from parents helped. For more, you can write to us at [email protected] or DM us on social media. You can also share tips to deal with an emotionally abusive father or mother in the comments section below.

“If the family you chose before your birth no longer supports your path towards fulfilling your true destiny, it is never too late to find a new tribe.” – Anthon St. Maarten

Take Care and Stay Safe.

Six causes of maternal aggression and ways to eliminate them

“How can you be angry with your child?! A good mother would never do that!" - this voice sounds in the head of every mother. And to the irritation from the endless "Groundhog Day" is added a constant guilt complex. The discussion about maternal burnout and aggression towards a child that has unfolded on the pages of Pravmir is commented on by child and systemic family psychologist Eleonora Borisova.

All mothers experience irritation and anger at their child at one time or another. Such emotions in relation to the most dear person can frighten, make me think that something is wrong with me, cause a feeling of guilt. I want to say right away that experiencing a wide variety of emotions in relation to a loved one is a natural process. What is the reason for the so-called "maternal aggression"? nine0003

Eleonora Borisova

With the birth of a child, a woman's life changes dramatically. Society, and the mother herself, make many demands on motherhood. A mother has to do a lot for her child - provide him with proper care and nutrition, play, take him to developmental classes. But at the same time, a woman should take care of her husband, of the house.

There are many myths about the ideal mother, the ideal wife. All this together puts a lot of pressure on a woman who, having become a mother, is faced with her “imperfection”. And then she experiences anger, irritation, and a feeling of helplessness and inability to change something. nine0003

And this often results in negative feelings towards one's own child. Let's look at the most common causes of negative emotions.

The first reason. Changing life

When a child is born, it is not only joy, but also new worries. The life of a woman after childbirth changes a lot: of course, this is a change in social status, and a change in her usual way of life (work, friends, freedom of movement). There are also changes in the relationship with her husband. In the light of new changes, the mother often experiences helplessness, dissatisfaction - and then she can see the child as a limiter to her former capabilities. nine0003

What can be done about it? The most important thing is to accept the fact that your life has really changed and will never be the same again. Look back, make a list of what you have lost. And then look at what you have acquired now, what changes bring you joy.

The second reason. Fatigue

Every mother faces chronic fatigue from sleepless nights, household chores, limited communication. It is all the more difficult for those mothers who are deprived of the help of their husbands, grandmothers, and nannies. There are still ideas about what a good mother should: feed, care, play, develop. But a woman is also a mistress and a wife: cleaning, cooking, etc. nine0003

And of course, fatigue appears, I really want to rest. But a woman does not always allow herself to rest, she strives to do everything, to do this and that, many feel guilty if they just rest. Of course, as a result, irritation and anger appear.

What can be done about fatigue?

Try to include compulsory rest in your list of household chores. You can allocate five to ten minutes a day for tea, a book, social networks. Incorporate solo walks into your schedule, even if it's ten to fifteen minutes. nine0003

Pay attention to how much you do for the child, how many tasks you take on and is such dedication of the mother useful for the child?

Here it is important to remember that children learn everything from their parents, including how a parent relaxes, whether he gives himself such an opportunity.

The third reason. Bad behavior of children

What is bad behavior? For some parents, this is the disobedience of the child, for some it is whims and tantrums (which happens during crisis periods of development). Many mothers find it difficult at such moments to cope with their own feelings of powerlessness - after all, she cannot influence the child in any way. nine0003

What can be done in such a situation? Of course, to understand the reasons for such behavior.

1. Pay attention to the rules that your family has. Are they clear and understandable? It is important to be consistent and not change the rules depending on your mood. The child will react with whims to a change in the rules.

2. Pay attention to who is in charge in your family. If everything is subordinated to the child and revolves around him, then he himself will have a feeling of anxiety from the power entrusted to him. Of course, he will strive to behave like a boss, which means he will not obey you. Here it is important to remind yourself that in a relationship with a child, the adult and the main one is you. nine0003

3. Often the child's bad behavior distracts the parents from their own problems. Children are very empathetic and often defuse the tension or dissatisfaction that the mother has with their behavior. Try to track the anxiety you have and deal with it on your own.

4. Age crises. During these periods, the child can become capricious, inconsistent, stubborn. It is important to remember that this is a temporary stage of growing up and it will pass.

Photo from

Fourth reason. Accumulated emotions

And here again we turn to the myth of ideal parents. In this myth, parents are happy after the birth of a child, they not only do not show negative emotions, they do not experience them. In practice, every parent experiences discontent, disappointment, irritation, anger. But such emotions can also cause fear - am I really a good mother if I am now irritated? Therefore, the negative can accumulate, and then the mother can not stand it and breaks down. nine0003

What can be done? First of all, accept the fact that you are experiencing a variety of feelings. Name the feeling you are experiencing right now. Try to understand how it can be safely expressed. Do not forget that the child feels your tension, but does not understand what is happening to you. In this way, you can help him learn more about the feelings that you experience and which he can already find in himself, give them a name. For example: I am very angry now, I need to be alone. Naming feelings later helps the child deal with them. nine0003

The fifth reason. Parental expectations

Already during pregnancy, parents make plans, dream about what their child will be like. When a child is born, parents are faced with the fact that the child "functions" differently, that the expectations and hopes that the parents had do not match reality. This can cause feelings of disappointment, irritation, anger. Children, noticing that they do not meet parental expectations, may close, move away from them. nine0003

What can be done? Here it is very important to start accepting the child as he is, to separate him from his expectations and aspirations. After all, the child cannot in any way isolate himself from parental hopes.

The sixth reason. Displaced aggression

When something goes wrong between adults, the child becomes a safe object for venting irritation. It happens that partners cannot express their dissatisfaction with each other directly, they can yell at a child to attract the attention of another partner, for example. nine0003

What can be done about it? It is important first of all to understand who you are really unhappy with. What are your complaints about your partner and why it is not safe for you to show negative emotions directly. Try to start talking about your dissatisfaction with the real object of your anger, which is really very difficult. You can write a letter with your claims at the beginning, understand which of these you are ready to voice right now.

We have analyzed the most common reasons why a mother may experience negative emotions. I think it's important for every mom to realize that motherhood comes with different feelings. If you understand that you can’t cope, you often break down on a child, then, first of all, give yourself a rest, albeit a little. Try to find help on the side while you figure out the reasons for what is happening to you now. nine0003

Read also:

  • Decree safety rules. Part 1: alone in an apartment with a child
  • Decree safety regulations. Part 2. Uncontrollable stress
  • “Is it really possible to be angry with your child?!”: Psychologist about “bad mothers”
  • "Put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then on the child"
  • Home alone: ​​when there is no one to help

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Aggressive behavior of children. What is Aggressive Behavior in Children?

The information in this section should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. In case of pain or other exacerbation of the disease, only the attending physician should prescribe diagnostic tests. For diagnosis and proper treatment, you should contact your doctor. nine0003

Aggressive behavior of children is verbal and physical activity aimed at causing harm to their own health, people, animals, external objects. Based on negative emotions, the desire to harm. It is manifested by disobedience, irritability, cruelty, insults, slander, threats, refusals to communicate, acts of violence (bites, blows). Diagnosed by a psychiatrist, psychologist. The study is conducted by the method of conversation, observation, questionnaires, questionnaires, projective tests are used. Treatment includes group, individual psychotherapy - teaching ways to control emotions, the safe expression of anger. nine0003


    R45.6 F91

    • Causes
    • Pathogenesis
    • Classification
    • Symptoms
    • Complications
    • Diagnostics
    • Treatment of aggressive behavior in children
    • Prognosis and prevention
    • Prices for treatment


    Aggressive behavior is found in children of all ages. Primarily serves as a way of expressing negative emotions - irritation, anger, anger. Observing the result of such behavior, the child evaluates its usefulness. Secondarily, he demonstrates aggression with a specific goal - to get toys, food, attract the attention of parents, prove strength, significance, subjugate others. The more often the desired is achieved, the stronger the aggressiveness in behavior is fixed, becoming a quality of character. It is difficult to determine the prevalence of this phenomenon, since every child shows aggression during his life. In boys, it occurs earlier, is open. In girls, it manifests itself indirectly. nine0003

    Aggressive behavior of children


    The reasons for aggression are varied - the accumulated emotional stress, the inability to express resentment in words, the lack of attention from adults, the desire to get someone else's toy, to show strength to peers. Often children harm others or themselves because they feel helpless, sad, resentful, but they cannot understand their own state, they do not have communication skills to resolve the problem. The following groups of causes of aggressiveness are distinguished: nine0003

    • Family relations. The formation of aggression is facilitated by the demonstration of cruelty, violence, disrespect, frequent conflicts in the family, and the indifference of parents. The child copies the behavior of the mother, the father - argues, provokes fights, openly shows anger, disobedience in order to attract attention.
    • Personal characteristics. The instability of the emotional state is manifested by anger, irritation. Through aggression, fear, fatigue, poor health are expressed, feelings of guilt, low self-esteem are compensated. nine0089
    • Features of the nervous system. Children with an unbalanced weak type of the central nervous system are prone to aggression. They endure stresses worse, are less resistant to the effects of physical and psychological discomfort.
    • Socio-biological factors. The severity of aggressiveness is determined by the sex of the child, role expectations, social status. Boys are often instilled with the idea that a man should be able to fight, "to fight back."
    • Situational factors. Emotional lability of childhood is manifested by outbursts of irritation, anger in case of accidental exposure to external adverse events. A bad school grade, the need to do homework, physical discomfort caused by hunger, a tiring trip can provoke a child. nine0089


    The physiological basis of children's aggressiveness is an imbalance in the processes of excitation-inhibition of the central nervous system, the functional immaturity of individual brain structures responsible for controlling emotions and behavior. When exposed to a stimulus, excitation predominates, the process of inhibition is "delayed". The psychological basis of children's aggressiveness is a low ability for self-regulation, lack of developed communication skills, dependence on adults, unstable self-esteem. Children's aggression is a way to relieve stress during emotional, mental stress, poor health. Purposeful aggressive behavior is focused on getting what you want, protecting your own interests. nine0003


    Many classifications of aggressive behavior have been developed. According to the direction of action, hetero-aggression is distinguished - causing damage to others, and auto-aggression - harming oneself. According to the etiological basis, reactive aggression is distinguished, which occurs as a reaction to external factors, and spontaneous, motivated by internal impulses. Of practical importance is the classification according to the form of manifestation:

    • Expressive aggression. Demonstration methods - intonation, facial expressions, gestures, postures. diagnostically difficult. Aggressive acts are not recognized or denied by the child. nine0089
    • Verbal aggression. It is realized through words - insults, threats, abuse. The most common option among schoolgirls.
    • Physical aggression. Damage is inflicted with the use of physical force. This form is common among young children, schoolchildren (boys).


    Basic manifestations of aggression are observed in infants up to a year. In children 1-3 years old, conflicts arise due to the appropriation of toys and other personal items. Children bite, push, fight, throw objects, spit, scream. Parents' attempts to stop the child's reactions with punishment exacerbate the situation. In preschoolers, the physical expression of aggression is observed less frequently, since speech is actively developing, its communicative function is being mastered. nine0003

    There is a growing need for communication, but productive interaction is hindered by self-centeredness, the inability to accept someone else's point of view, to objectively assess the situation of interaction. There are misunderstandings, insults that give rise to verbal aggression - swearing, insults, threats. Younger students have a basic level of self-control, they are able to suppress aggression as a way of expressing resentment, displeasure, and fear.

    At the same time, they actively use it to protect their interests and defend their point of view. Gender characteristics of aggressiveness begin to be determined. The boys act openly, use physical force - they fight, trip, “click” on the forehead. Girls choose indirect and verbal methods - ridicule, nicknames, gossip, ignoring, silence. Both sexes have signs of low self-esteem and depression. nine0003

    In adolescence, aggressiveness occurs as a result of hormonal changes and the accompanying emotional lability during this period, the complication of social contacts. There is a need to prove their importance, strength, relevance. Aggression is either suppressed, replaced by productive activities, or takes extreme forms - boys and girls fight, injure opponents, make suicide attempts.


    Frequent aggressiveness, reinforced by upbringing, a dysfunctional family environment, is fixed in the qualities of the child's personality. By adolescence, characterological traits are formed on the basis of anger, bitterness, resentment. Accentuations develop, psychopathy - personality disorders with a predominance of aggression. The risk of social maladaptation, deviant behavior, and delinquency increases. With auto-aggression, children harm themselves, attempt suicide. nine0003


    Diagnosis of aggressive behavior in children is relevant in case of excessive frequency and severity of manifestations. The decision to consult a psychiatrist, a psychologist is formed by the parents independently or after the recommendation of the teachers. The basis of the diagnostic process is a clinical conversation. The doctor listens to complaints, finds out the anamnesis, additionally studies the characteristics from the kindergarten, school. An objective study includes the use of special psychodiagnostic methods: nine0003

    • Questionnaires, observation. Parents and teachers are invited to answer a number of questions / statements about the characteristics of the child's behavior. Observation is carried out according to a scheme that includes a number of criteria. The results allow you to establish the form of aggression, its severity, causes.
    • Personality questionnaires. Used to test teenagers. They reveal the presence of aggressiveness in the general structure of the personality, ways to compensate for it. Common methods are the Leonhard-Schmishek questionnaire, the pathocharacterological diagnostic questionnaire (Lichko). nine0089
    • Drawing tests. According to the features of the drawings, the severity of symptoms, causes, unconscious emotions are determined. The tests Non-existent animal, Cactus, Man are used.
    • Interpretation tests. They belong to projective methods, they reveal the unconscious, hidden experiences of the child. The examination is carried out using the Rosenzweig Frustration Test, Hand-test (hand test).

    Treatment of aggressive behavior in children

    With severe aggression, correction by psychotherapy methods is required. The use of medications is justified when anger, impulsivity, anger are symptoms of a mental disorder (psychopathy, acute psychosis). It is impossible to cure aggressiveness forever; it will occur in a child in certain life situations. The task of psychologists, psychotherapists is to help resolve personal problems, teach adequate ways of expressing feelings, resolving conflict situations. Common correction methods include: nine0003

    • Game exercises. Presented by express methods of safe expression of aggression. The child is invited to throw out anger, irritation, anger without harm to others. Games with a ball, loose materials, water, "leaves of wrath" are used.
    • Communication training. Group work allows the child to develop effective communication strategies, ways of expressing emotions, defending one's position without harming others. Children receive feedback (reaction of participants), analyze successes, mistakes with a psychotherapist. nine0089
    • Relaxation classes. They are aimed at reducing anxiety, emotional tension - factors that increase the risk of outbreaks of aggressiveness. Children learn to restore deep breathing, achieve muscle relaxation, switch attention.

    Prognosis and prevention

    The aggressive behavior of children is successfully corrected with the joint efforts of parents, teachers, and psychologists. The prognosis is favorable in most cases. To prevent the consolidation of aggression as the preferred mode of interaction, it is necessary to adhere to a harmonious parenting style, demonstrate ways to resolve conflicts in a peaceful way, treat the child with respect, and allow the expression of anger in a safe way. Do not focus on minor aggressive actions. When discussing manifestations of aggressiveness, it is important to talk about actions, but not about personal qualities (“you acted cruelly”, and not “you are cruel”). nine0003

    You can share your medical history, what helped you in the treatment of aggressive behavior in children.


    1. In case of pain or other exacerbation of the disease, only the attending physician should prescribe diagnostic tests.
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