Emotional abuse is a behavior that attacks a child's self-esteem, emotional development and self worth. A child's spirit can be crushed with threats, put-downs or neglect. It can hurt as much as physical abuse.

Children look to their parents for love and approval. They need love and attention to feel good about themselves. An emotionally abusive parent might belittle, criticize, insult, or shame a child; he may call the child names, or tell her she is no good, stupid, or ugly. An emotionally neglectful parent does not tell a child that he is loved; she does not give affection such as hugs or kisses, or praise the child when he or she is good. Emotionally abusive parents only put him down, or don't pay her any attention at all.

Why does this happen?

Emotional abuse or neglect happens when the parent believes that showing love and concern will spoil a child, or when the parents are focused on things other than their children. Many parents and teachers believe that children should be quiet at all times, and that fear and embarrassment should be used to keep order.

Adults who were emotionally neglected or abused when they were young, know of no other way to raise their children. Most people learn how to be parents from their own experiences as children. "I turned out okay, so why should I treat my children any differently?"

Parental stresses and mental illness are only a small percentage of the people who emotionally neglect their children. There is not any particular socioeconomic group that prevails. This abuse crosses all lines.

Some common traits in emotionally abusive adults are:

  • Depression;
  • Isolation: few friends, hard time trusting others;
  • A history of neglect in their own childhood;
  • Drinking or use of drugs;
  • Stress: thinking about their problems.
read more:

Learn More About Emotional Abuse

Effects of Emotional Abuse on a Child

Tips for Parents

If You Suspect a Child is Being Emotionally Abused or Neglected