By Dickson Tumuramye
Emotional abuse is a common practice that almost everyone goes through in life. Some people may not know how they emotionally abuse others.
We have parents who are harsh, toxic, strict and use humiliating or criticizing words.
They are usually yelling and constantly shouting at children or spouses.
Somehow, this creates fear amongst children and spouses. Other parents are not tough but they never care about their families, this too creates emotional abuse.
Children who are raised in fear of their abusive parents can never be very free with them.
They can never confide in them if they had any pressing issue or challenge and they hardly appreciate such a parent’s character.
Unfortunately, we still have parents who are well educated, professional, and well exposed but still cause emotional abuse to their children.
Some belittle their children even in front of other people.
When children are raised on a diet of abuse, harshness, negative criticism, mistreatment, and judgment, they may never have any good things to appreciate about themselves except self-rejection and low self-esteem.
They too can be abusive in a defensive manner. This can occur even in their adulthood because that is how they were raised and fed.
The emotional abuse may be invisible, but it leaves deep scars on its victims, and this may have a negative lasting impact on your child.
It can have long-term negative effects on a child’s social, spiritual, emotional, cognitive, and mental health and development.
Such children find it hard to express their feelings and control emotions, and some grow with too much bitterness.
Some may fail to create and maintain friendships; while others get abused so easily in seemingly love relationships with the opposite sex, because of their vulnerability.
Others can become manipulative and have a controlling or possessive attitude.
We need to know that children who are emotionally abused often get stressed and traumatized and carry this into adulthood.
Many have self-esteem problems and others find it difficult to live with their parents or guardians.
Unfortunately, such abusive parents do not even realise that their actions are hurtful and can result in harmful consequences.
It is good for parents to set strict rules because they fear for their children’s safety but this should not turn into abuse of our children.
What to do
One important thing I have learned in this world is to know myself very well, especially my inner abilities which no one else knows.
We should try to help our children recognise self-awareness and self-discovery so that even when they are abused, their inner man will always speak positive words to them and this boosts their self-esteem.
As parents, we can guard our own children against all sorts of abuse.
Do not put your children through the same abuse that you were put through by your parents or anybody else.
This will help us to raise children who are healthy in all life aspects.
Stay calm when you are angry and avoid exposing your personal weakness to your children.
Do not easily lose your temper and self-care. They will lose trust and confidence in you.
Do not use threatening language when resolving conflicts or disciplining children. Never curse your child because you may not be in charge of their future.
They have a God who has good plans for them, plans to prosper them but not to harm them yet you may not know that (Jeremiah 29:11).
Limit the negative words you use before your children; they are not necessary.
Love your children unconditionally regardless of their disappointments and behavior, you are a mirror to your children.
What you invest in them today is what they will portray tomorrow. Learn to forgive however much you feel you are fed up with your child.
Always use positive and affirmative words, they touch your child’s inner spirit.
Not all that you do goes unnoticed by your children, one day they will appreciate your advice and this will leave them to remember how you made them what they are.
Emotional abuse does not build your child, but destroys their ability to appreciate and value themselves.
On contrary, others become so resilient and when they thrive, you may never get a chance to remain in their lives in their old age.
The writer is a child advocate, parenting coach, and founder-Men of Purpose.