Excessive verbal assaults (belittling, screaming, threats, blaming,
sarcasm), unpredictable responses (inconsistency), continual negative
moods, constant family discord and double-message communication
are examples of ways parents may subject their children to emotional
Emotional abuse may be suspected if:
- Child is withdrawn, depressed and apathetic.
- "Acts out", and is considered a "behavior problem".
- Is overly rigid in conforming to instruction of teachers, doctors,
and other adults.
- Displays other signs of emotional turmoil (repetitive, rhythmic
movements, inordinate attention to details; no verbal or physical
communications with others).
- Unwittingly makes comments such as, "Daddy always tells
me I'm bad".
Emotional deprivation should be suspected
if the child:
- Refuses to eat adequate amounts of food and is thus very frail.
- Is not thriving in general (unable to perform normal learned
functions for a given age, e.g., walking, talking, etc.).
- Displays antisocial behavior (aggression, disruption) or obvious
"delinquent" behavior (drug abuse, vandalism); conversely,
the child may be abnormally unresponsive, sad or withdrawn.
- Constantly "seeks out" and "pesters" other
adults (such as teachers, neighbors, etc.) for attention and affection.
- Displays exaggerated fears.