How physical and emotional abuse affects children

How physical and emotional abuse affects children

A lot of people are curious about how physical and emotional abuse affects children. This particular topic has raised a lot of interest among parents, children, and social institutions.

Physical and emotional abuse affects children mentally, emotionally, physically, and health-wise. An abused child that received no intervention might end up as an abusive adult.

So many children in the world are suffering from the effects of physical and emotional abuse. Most of them are adults now however the negative effects of physical and emotional abuse grew with them.

These children grow up to become hard and almost incapable of trust, belief, or love for others.

Not all children who suffer from physical and emotional abuse remain traumatized as adults. A little percentage is able to break out due to influences from their peers or the environment.

They form resilience to the abuse and grow up to be wonderful and influential people in society.

I’m quite certain that no parent will be proud to openly say that they abuse their children. However, the truth is a lot of parents abuse their children physically and emotionally.

What most people consider as a discipline might actually be an extreme form of physical and emotional abuse. And this is detrimental to the mental and physical health of a child.

Abuse comes in so many ways that sometimes it is hard to differentiate between it and discipline however by the end of this article we will be able to differentiate between these two concepts.

What is physical and emotional abuse

The English dictionary defines abuse as an attack with coarse language; to insult, revile, malign, or speak in an offensive manner to or about someone. It could also mean to disparage.

Furthermore, abuse can be to injure, maltreat; hurt or treat with cruelty in a repeated manner.

From the above definition, we can say that physical and emotional abuse is offensive and destructive actions meted on an individual. These actions affect the overall well-being of the receiver.

There are different forms of physical abuse but for the purpose of this article. We will discuss the 5 majors forms of abuse.

Characteristics of physical and emotional abuse

Before discussing the 5 major forms of abuse. Let’s talk about the features and attributes of physical and emotional abuse.

  1. It is demeaning

A correction should be out of love and a willingness to help your child. It shouldn’t be a series of demeaning or humiliating actions that weakens and cripples your child’s self-esteem.

Physical or emotional abuse is extremely demeaning. It is highly characterized by actions targeted at humiliating or degrading a person.

Tip 1: As funny as this might sound. I think it is important that parents put themselves in the place of their when meeting out punishment.

It is true that we are grown-ups and we probably have the right to do what we like. The truth is, as adults we cannot stand humiliating experiences, we run, hide and even cut ties with the person.

If we cannot handle degrading experiences, how much more are our innocent kids who barely have an understanding of how life works.

  1. Breeds resentment

You are not the only parent that corrects your child. However, if not one but all your kids hate you or are probably scared of you.

Then, there is a high possibility that your correction technique might be abusive.

Despite how hard or untrue this might sound, there is an unspoken message in the way our kids treat us.

Discipline or correction should not be synonyms with abuse. It should be the extreme antonyms that no parent ever engages in.

I have seen families where the kids are all grown up now but they still have some resentment for their parents.

Tip 2: Before you mete out a punishment, try to think carefully about it and how it can act as a corrective measure and not a form of abuse.

This simply means that you are not allowed to punish your kids when you are angry.

Try to calm yourself down and think carefully before meting out any punishment.

  1. Angry corrections

It is very possible to get so angry that you hit your kids or use really harsh words on them. This is the reality and sometimes, it does happen despite how much we hate ourselves for it.

Correction should be done out of love not out of anger.

The goal of correcting a child is simply to educate them about the wrongs they did and point them to the right part.

However, must parents, guidance, or caregivers miss the whole essence because they are angry.

The truth is, in life, we face so many challenges and situations that make us question our core values and principles.

Our children are simply experiencing the same thing and the way you handle the issue will matter forever in their lives.

Tip: 3 Children make their parents angry and don’t forget you were once a child.

You did a lot of hurtful and annoying things too but here you are now with your own kids correcting them.

If you can try to remember that years back, you were once a child, receiving corrections from your parents.

You might be able to exhibit self-control yourself and be specific in your correctional techniques.

  1. The “I received the same mentality”

Most parents make the mistake of using the same method their own parents use on them whether negative or positive.

I’m certain that you have heard people say “my parents did this so I will do the same”. Or this was how my parents raised me so I will treat my children the same way.

Some children were abused by parents while growing up and without any form of therapy. They end up as abusive parents therefore they mete the same treatment and justify their actions.

Tip 4: If you had abusive parents, I’m sorry about that. I really wish that they did not hurt you, however, this shouldn’t be enough reason to do the same to your kids.

How physical and emotional abuse affects children
How physical and emotional abuse affects children

The thin line between abuse and discipline

Most parents see abuse as discipline whereas some children see discipline as abuse. This controversy or lack of understanding has drawn a very thin line between abuse and discipline or correction.

If a child did something wrong according to the constitution or rules of their parents. It is the responsibility of their parent to decide to correct the child.

Abuse is a series of actions done with aim of humiliating or degrading a person. Discipline on the other hand is an action done to enforce control or obedience to rules and regulations.

Sometimes parents unknowingly cross the line between abuse and discipline. Let’s take a quick example to further differentiate these two concepts.

A 10-year-old boy was caught stealing by his mom. We all know that stealing is not a good habit, it is even punishable by the law.

Let’s look at two mothers’ approaches to this issue

The first mother said nothing to her child about the issue for 24 hours after which she called him for a discussion.

Mother: Joel I’m hurt and disappointed

Joel: Sniffles a little but says nothing

Mother: what happened, you were about to steal my money? Do you need money for something? Are you hungry? What happened??

Joel: I’m really sorry ma, I didn’t mean to make you unhappy and disappointed.

Mother: Young ma, you haven’t answered my question.

Joel: Stammers a little mom…

Mother: It seems like my question was a little vague. Let me ask it in a more understandable way. Was this the first time?

Joel:  Stutters a little… No, ma

Mother: What do you do with the money?

Joel: Mom…

Mother: That does not answer my question

Joel: I give it to Harry; he beats me when I don’t give him money

Mother: You are bullied in school? And you did not tell me. Instead, you decided to start stealing to satisfy your bully.

Mother: Is this how I raised you to be?  Why didn’t you tell me, Joel?

Joel: Mom I didn’t want you to worry

Mother: I’m your mother, it is my responsibility to worry about you. Joel what you were wrong and remember that every consequence has an action.

I will tell your dad about this and there will be no pocket money for you for this month. Also, you will tell your siblings what you did and why they shouldn’t do it. Is that understood?

The second mother caught her son stealing and she immediately started beating him still he hit his head on the wall and started bleeding.

From the above illustration, we can see two scenarios one of discipline and the second of physical abuse.

In the first example, the mother got to find out more in-depth things about her son. However, the second mother just succeeded in inflicting physical injury on herself.

This is a perfect summary of physical and emotional abuse. The first mother was wise enough to retreat and think carefully about the action to take however the second mother was impulsive.

As parents’ impulsive actions are not always the best steps to take when dealing with our children.

Forms of abuse

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Sexual abuse
  • Witnessing domestic violence

These are the five major forms of abuse. For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on physical and emotional abuse.

The question most people are probably asking is, how does a child suffer from physical or emotional abuse.

A lot of parents are guilty of physical abuse, most caregivers or guidance see absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Starving a child of food, shelter and other basic amenities is a form of physical abuse. Your child is not a criminal, he/she only defaulted or make just like you do once in a while even as an adult.

Hitting your child in an extreme manner that leads to bruising or bleeding is another common form of physical abuse. No matter how big the offense is, the truth is your child just made a mistake.

Emotional abuse just like the name implies affects one’s emotions and feelings. The fact that they are kids does not make them resistant to hurtful or snide remarks. Especially when it is d coming from people that are meant to protect them.

One major form of emotional abuse is name-calling. A lot of parents are very quick to use harsh words on their kids whenever they get offended and this is totally unhealthy.

Words like “good for nothing, stupid, irrelevant, nuisance, dumb, fool” and other mean words are not meant for our kids. Despite how angry you are, using these words on your kids is totally unacceptable as it affects them mentally.

It is true that some kids are resilient, they build an outer shield that protects them from your words. However, this isn’t what a family should be like, a family should be a place of solace, love, correct and support.

Another common form of emotional abuse is beneficial gifting. It is important to gift our children but doing it only to use it against them when they default is wrong.

For example, I hear a lot of parents use words like

“After all, I have done for you” “Is this how you pay me back” or “and to think that I just got him or her …”

You are trying to say that you only care enough to gift your children when they are perfect. I’m not asking you to gift your children when they default. I’m simply saying, when you use your gifts or care against them when they default, it is a form of emotional abuse.

The effects of physical and emotional abuse

  1. Low self-esteem
  2. Depression and other mental related disorders
  3. Breeds abusive parents


Most grown-ups forget that they were once kids too and they engage in different kinds of activities that their parent was not in support of.

Abuse in all forms is deadly and dangerous. To the physical and mental health of children all over the world. Physical and emotional abuse are the most common forms of abuse children have to deal with.

If you were a victim of an abusive parent, it is important that you get therapy for the safety of your kids. You might make the decision of never hurting or treating your kids the way your parents did.

However, is your subconscious mind also in agreement with this decision. Don’t bring children into this world to suffer from any form of abuse.

Now you know better, seek professional health for the safety and well of your children.

If you have any knowledge about any child with abusive parents or you suffer from abusive parents or guardians. Ensure that you inform the necessary authorities and seek help.

Don’t stay quiet and tolerate abuse, speak up because help is available.

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