Know the form of child abuse in your home
In case your child is withdrawn, cries a lot, has sleeping challenges, eating disorders, is defiant, has oppositional behaviour, wets on the bed, abuses fellow children, speaks rudely, throws a lot of tantrums, demands attention, appears to be always frightened to specific individuals or situations, is not happy at specific times, is easily distracted, or any new change in your child, please be watchful to know if your child(ren) is undergoing any form of abuse
The former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela once said that the true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children. Child abuse comes in so many ways in our homes. The main four types of abuse are physical, emotional, neglect, and sexual abuse. Each of these types manifests itself in different forms in any home at any time and each has devastating consequences in the life of a child.
The most common abuse in our homes is the use of harsh words on children. There are people who speak into the lives of the children in the name of correcting them. The words used instead break their hearts though they may never show them to you. Some parents use threats, abuses, mockery, and belittling, spitting on a child among others. Such words humiliate, degrade, and cause low self-esteem, loss of self-confidence, and emotional stress.
Some children are silenced or not allowed to talk about anything in their homes. They are ridiculed when they try to express themselves, some face backbiting, rumour-mongering, and blackmailing and this can affect their creativity, self-expression and promote timidness and reservations.
In dysfunctional homes, children are denied seeing or visiting their parents in case they are separated or divorced. Other children are not allowed to interact with other children for reasons not clearly explained to them and this affects their social interaction and interpersonal skills. Most children have grown up experiencing physical abuse in almost every home. The forms can include beating, burning, slapping, punching, kicking, biting, excessive pinching, pulling ears, poisoning, denial of food, non-consensual tickling, etc. Most of these are done as “disciplinary” measures but they turn out to be corporal punishments and abusive. Most parents who are authoritarians indirectly coerce their children into “obedience” but in the long run, children turn up with too much fear. They can’t speak up or express themselves well for fear of getting punished. Such children can be bullied by others because they don’t know to stand on their own while others can become unruly and abusive because what they see is what they also pass on to others. This can be witnessed in adulthood and marriages.
In case your child is withdrawn, cries a lot, has sleeping challenges, eating disorders, is defiant, has oppositional behaviour, wets on the bed, abuses fellow children, speaks rudely, throws a lot of tantrums, demands attention, appears to be always frightened to specific individuals or situations, is not happy at specific times, is easily distracted, or any new change in your child, please be watchful to know if your child(ren) is undergoing any form of abuse. Some could have visible bruises and scars, no longer want to sit near you or your spouse or a sibling, fear some places, a child is always afraid or feeling anxious, feel stressed or depressed, are aggressive in some ways, some choose to be on gadgets a lot, sucking thumbs and to some, they run to streets or neighbours where they feel the environment is safer. Don’t take such signs for granted. Some children have parents but they live like orphans in their own homes. Their parents neglect them emotionally. Their physical presence is not different from a physically absent parent. Such parents don’t provide basic needs. They show no concern as a parent even when a child demands their attention. They can even leave children in the house and go on their own business. As a result, the children have no option but to live a life that best fits them. Some parents see their children doing wrong things but they feel safer keeping quiet or showing no concern. This also causes total abuse to children because they are left to decide on their own and fend for themselves. Some become unruly and can’t respect their mothers, among others.
Whichever form of abuse or any signs you observe; it is our primary responsibility to guard our children from any abuse. If you are such an authoritarian parent and have raised children who look at you as a violent parent, it is time to create a good relationship with them.
Abused children lose trust in their own parents and this pushes them far from you for life however much they are under your control. But you can change your parenting and child management skills to create harmony in your family and show love and care to your children. Let us not live with our own children as strangers but work smartly to ensure there is a family bond and our children are proud of us for their whole lives.
The writer is the Executive Director of Hope Regeneration Africa, parenting coach, marriage counsellor, and founder – Men of Purpose Mentorship Program.