Much of the work on emotional abuse has been written about adult relationships, yet children, pre-teens and teens have their own unique needs in these very important formative years. There are certain experiences, such as secure attachment, that need to be met in order for children to grow and thrive. Unfortunately, they do not always have that safe place in their own home.

In order to keep children from incurring unnecessary trauma and allow them to develop into healthy adults, it’s essential to look at and be aware of areas that may cause emotional abuse. This is an awareness exercise for any parent, teacher or care-giver that interacts with children of all ages. As many developmental psychologists believe, a person’s identity is formed by age 10, so it’s an important topic to explore.

What kinds of things qualify as emotional abuse in children, pre-teens and teens?  I’m going to use the term “child” below for simplification but it in this context it applies to the full range of what classifies as a minor under your care.

  • Being too busy to listen to a child when she (or he) needs to process emotions, problems, or ideas.
  • Minimizing an offense that happened to the child.
  • Over-hyping an offense that happened to the child so that he feels he was completely powerless to stop it.
  • Being co-dependent or independent to or from the child, instead of being inter-dependent.
  • Not respecting the views of a child when she disagrees with you.
  • Not asking questions as to why a child is saying something but assuming through your own filter what he means.
  • Punishing a child for an accident.
  • Shaming a child for something she didn’t intend.
  • Using guilt or lying to a child about what might happen to him if he participates in something you don’t approve.

Read the other half of the article on Psych Central’s Blog here: