Impact of verbal abuse on children

The alarming frequency at which parents hurl insults and curses at their own children is deeply concerning. Imagine a mother saying, “You are a source of bad luck to me. I regret having you. You bring nothing but misfortune.” It is disheartening to see a mother, who should be instilling virtues, modesty, and cultural values in her children, engaging in the degradation of the very morals and values she should be upholding. Many parents subject their children to such harsh treatment, leading them to wish they were part of a different, more nurturing family.

There are instances where a mother refers to her young daughter, who is not even 18 yet, with derogatory terms like a prostitute or a bastard. Witnessing such instances myself, it is evident that these hurtful words or curses will have a lasting impact on the girl’s life. The power of a mother’s words, especially negative ones, can shape a person’s destiny. Sadly, these same children, once grown, might perpetuate this cycle of verbal abuse in their own families without understanding its consequences. This phenomenon aligns with what sociologists term the social learning theory in crime and understanding of social reality.

Research reveals that childhood stress resulting from verbal abuse can damage the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for emotional control. This damage can have lasting effects on a child’s brain structure. When parents subject their children to verbal attacks, the emotional toll can be devastating. Children are emotionally vulnerable and rely on their parents’ reactions to develop a healthy self-esteem and a positive self-image.

It’s normal to experience anger and frustration with your child, but it is crucial to express these feelings constructively rather than resorting to profanities. Words should never be used as weapons, as they can shatter a child’s self-esteem before it has a chance to flourish.

Have you ever truly listened to how you speak to your child? Do your statements tend to be positive or negative? While slips into negativity are common, continuously using phrases like “You’re so messy, you can’t do anything right” can shape your child’s behavior and self-perception over time.

Moreover, there are parents who resort to brutality. Correcting a child’s behavior is important, but physical punishment or verbal abuse is never the right approach. There are numerous effective ways to correct a child, such as having a calm conversation, explaining their mistake, and encouraging them to avoid repeating it. Respecting your child’s opinions, showing love, meeting their needs, and spending quality time with them are all vital aspects of parenting. Neglecting a child’s emotional needs can lead to mental suffering from a young age.

Verbal abuse can lead to feelings of inadequacy, stupidity, and worthlessness. Why should a mother subject her children to unnecessary yelling, insults, nagging, criticism, and belittlement? If you believe that such behavior is harmless, you’re mistaken it can have severe mental effects on children.

Parents should be cautious about their words and actions, as they significantly impact a child’s upbringing, attitudes, and social development. Parents are essential emotional resources for their children, helping them manage their emotions, cope, and behave appropriately. Raise your children with love, respect, and a sense of security. Choose your words wisely and, when frustrated or angry, take a moment for yourself. Consider recording your interactions to truly understand the impact of your words on your relationship with your children as they grow into adults.

In conclusion, collective efforts are required to cultivate a healthy society and future generation. It starts within the family unit, and with these changes, our societies and the world can become better places for all to coexist.

Bala Sa’adatu Kaigama,
200level student of Mass Communication,
Ahmadu Bello University,, Zaria
[email protected]