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Hollering might strike you as a natural and effective form of discipline if you were brought up with it. But for children it can cause emotional trauma that results in long-lasting harm. In fact, current research shows that verbal abuse of children can be just as destructive emotionally as physical and sexual abuse and puts them in as much risk for depression and anxiety.
What is verbal abuse?
You may be verbally abusing your child if you are doing any of the following: Name-calling, belittling, swearing, insulting. Rejecting or threatening with abandonment.
Studies have linked verbal aggression and physical aggression: A Harvard study found, for example, that "parents who yell frequently are the ones most likely to hit frequently, and vice versa. A study at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, determined that children who see their parents verbally abusing each other are more likely to be depressed or anxious, and to experience more interpersonal problems of their own.
Interestingly, the study also found that verbal aggression between parents was more traumatic to children than physical violence between parents. How common is verbal abuse? A study at the University of New Hampshire found that 63 percent of more than 3, American parents surveyed reported one or more cases of verbal aggression toward children in their homes.
However, a Child Protective Services study determined that only 6 percent of all child abuse cases involved "emotional maltreatment" of which verbal abuse is the most common form.
The fact that signs of verbal abuse are harder to recognize and prove than signs of physical abuse may account for the seemingly low number of "official" verbal abuse cases.
What are signs that a child is suffering from verbal abuse? This is the most common and pervasive effect of verbal abuse. The New Hampshire study found that verbally abused children demonstrated higher rates of physical aggression, delinquency, and interpersonal problems.
Your child may hit other children, frequently quarrel with his classmates, or be cruel to animals. He may have difficulty making friends, fall behind in school, or engage in regressive acts such as rocking, thumb-sucking, and bed-wetting. Does verbal abuse do any long-term harm?
Research shows that abused children are more likely to: Most parents at some time find themselves feeling frustrated and angry with their children. Occasionally they say things they regret -- to their children, their spouses, or their friends.
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