At The Dragonfly House Children’s Advocacy Center, our goal is to help victims of child abuse and their families get the support they need in order to recover from their trauma. We work to prevent all types of child abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional, and mental. In this article, we will focus on child mental abuse, and go over some key information you need to know about it in order to help your child stay safe or recover from this type of harm.
What is Child Mental Abuse?
You’ve probably heard the adage that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Unfortunately, this saying just isn’t true. Psychologists now understand that words can do profound psychological harm–and much of child mental abuse consists of verbally criticizing, demeaning, berating, insulting, or threatening the child. In addition, mental abuse frequently involves withholding love and support, rejecting the child, or humiliating them. All of these behaviors can damage a child’s self-worth and have a serious negative impact on their emotional development.
Signs of Child Mental Abuse
Although no two children will exhibit the exact same signs of mental abuse, some of the most common behavioral and emotional changes that can result from it include:
- Feeling anxious
- Attempting to avoid certain situations (such as going to someone’s house or to an activity where the abuser will be)
- Becoming depressed
- Losing self-esteem
- Struggling in school, especially if the problems they are experiencing are new
- Regressing in terms of development (for example, a potty-trained child starting to wet the bed again)
- Experiencing frequent headaches, stomachaches, or other somatic symptoms with no clear cause
- Losing interest in social activities or hobbies
If your child is exhibiting any of these signs, we encourage you to reach out to our team to help give them the support they need.