Verbal and Emotional Abuse: How to Break the Cycle

Verbal and emotional abuses are among the leading causes of poor self-esteem in our young people today. Poor self-esteem can lead children to be underachievers with no real belief in the future. A child that lives with this abuse learns it and will pass it on to future generations. This cycle can and must be broken.

Identifying the cause of the abuse is a major step in learning to break the cycle. Often when we are feeling our lowest is when we do the most harm to our children. Frazzled nerves and frustration are two of the leading times when we are at our lowest points. By learning to recognize the warning signs we can learn to stop the abuse before it happens. Take an objective look at the daily routines and try to pinpoint the stressful times of day. For most, it is getting everyone up and dressed in the mornings and dinnertime in the evenings. Try to find ways to make these times less stressful. A few suggestions would be to have the children lay out their clothes the night before, invest in alarm clocks for older children and teach them to get themselves up and ready for the day. If some of the family requires a bag lunch, try preparing some of it the night before. Instead of yelling at the children to go away while dinner is being prepared, let them help, get them involved in activities that will not only keep them busy, but will be of an assistance to you. Encourage children to be more independent, thereby relying less on you and reducing your level of responsibility.

Listen to yourself as you talk to your children. Would you speak to others in that tone or use those words? Would you want someone to talk to you the way you talk to your children? Are you using words and phrases that your parents used with you? Did those words and phrases hurt you when you heard them? They are hurting your children when they hear them, too. Learn to recognize what they are and eliminate them from discussions with your children. Don’t use threats to make your children behave. Threats are rarely carried out. Make rules for the house and make sure everyone understands the penalty for breaking the rules. Children want and need boundaries and limits. Children don’t need empty threats any more than they need empty promises.

The cycle of verbal and emotional abuse can be broken and it has to start with you.

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