Children are like sponges, they soak up information, consciously and unconsciously. This is good when children are learning at home and school. Children learn by example, toddlers, watch their carers and siblings with fascination and intent, watching, absorbing, learning.
Unfortunately, as children absorb useful information, they also absorb unpleasant information. Verbal abuse, is very unpleasant for anyone to hear at any age. Young children, cannot understand the verbal meaning of verbal abuse, but they know the difference between nice words and nasty words, from the tone of the voice.
Once a child has been exposed to hearing verbal abuse against a parent, it is difficult to undo the damage, but not impossible. Following are some tips to help children overcome hearing verbal abuse against a parent:
1. If you are the parent being verbally abused, speak to your child in a gentler tone. Depending on the age of the child, as soon as they can reason, explain that when we speak gently, people can understand you better.
2. Teach the child ways to mange their anger, for children learn by example, and if the child has been exposed to domestic life with verbal abuse being thrown around, the child undoubtedly will be copying this.
3. If it is possible, remove the child from being exposed to hearing more verbal abuse.
4. Monitor the T.V. viewing and screen out any programmes that have verbal or physical abuse.
5. If the child is very distressed, arrange counselling for the child.
6. Make as many positive experiences for the child.
7. If you are the parent receiving the verbal abuse, take some assertive classes, or have counselling yourself.
8. Teach your child to write in a journal any distressed feelings they have.
The ideal would be for the abused parent to take the children away from the abusive situation. As with many cases of domestic violence, abuse is perpetuated because it is a cycle where the abused loses self-esteem and devises survival tactics, such as getting on with things, until the abused person feels 'strong' enough to make a decision of what to do.
Children are caught up in this cycle and can either become timid, with low self esteem themselves, or bullies and aggressive. As long as the relationship is continued it is vital that other people are in the child's life which can boost their self-esteem, and show them there is hope of change.