Most children develop self esteem issues and complexes not because someone says something to them. Sometimes, the deeds of acute self esteem issues are sown in the minds of kids by their parents, rather unknowingly. That’s why it’s important to understand if you are inadvertently abusing your child.
It is very ironical. We parents want our kids to develop strength and we end up filling them up with weaknesses! So let’s look at how we do that. What are the different kinds of abuse.
There are three kinds of abuse that parents knowingly or unknowingly subject their kids to: these are physical abuse, emotional abuse and psychological abuse.
What is physical abuse? Do watch the movie Udaan, where the father of a 7 year old beats up his son because the child misbehaves at school. His father is summoned to school. The father was busy in an important work meeting and he was called to school. The father brings the child home and then beats the hell out of him.
He believes that “disciplining” his unruly son is normal and important. This is physical abuse: beating kids up. It fills kids with the belief that they are not good enough. It nudges them to think, they deserve the worst kind of disrespect because they are not good enough. And all this comes from their own parents, setting the foundation for a life filled with misgivings about their broken self. So sad isn’t it?
Beating kids is never a solution. They will develop a complex from all the beating up. Instead, hugs and loving secure touch goes a long in changing kids and helping them. Secure touch shows acceptance, and there is magic in acceptance and self-belief. Beating takes away both acceptance and self-belief. Beating up kids is akin to ruining their self esteem for good.
What is emotional abuse? Inducing guilt and fear in children, enticing them to become angry, disrespecting them by using condescending words and actions, is emotional abuse. Inducing shame, fear, and anger through harsh words ruins their self esteem. It never helps them change in a good way. Manipulating them emotionally by holding them to ransom, saying things like “I won’t love you if you keep doing this,” “You are a mean little kids for hurting daddy,” “Do this again and I will beat the shit out of you,” are the kind of statements that propagate emotional abuse. Being screamed at is also abuse that lowers the self esteem of your child. This does not mean that you never tell them off. Just do not demean them. Convey that you are angry, be honest, but be respectful. Do not resort to screaming, manipulation and inadvertent emotional abuse.
And then there is, intellectual abuse. Insulting your kids in front of people saying, “She is very confused,” “He is not very smart,” “He has a wavering mind”, “You are an idiot” etc., is a form of intellectual abuse. It is a sure fire way to induce a complex in your child.
If you want to avoid this, lovingly teach them the right things. Encourage them and fill them with self belief. Instead of focusing on the things they lack, encourage the positive traits in your kids. Let that little beacon of light in your child grow and shine with love, kindness, tough love and patience.
Think you know someone who is abusing his/her kids? We understand how sensitive a thing this is to discuss. You can write to us about it and know that we will always be discreet in lending help. And we will not leave a stone unturned in helping every child possible in having a beautiful childhood.