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Can Violence Be Verbal? How We Harm Children Unknowingly

Verbal Violance in Parenting

Spare the Rod as well as the Whiplash of the Tongue.

Becoming a parent is a wonderful feeling. Being a good one is a different ball game altogether.

We keep trying our best using open communication, expressing, explaining, being stern with our rules and not using violence. Many urban Indian parents are making conscious choices and moving away from the traditional way of bringing discipline through physical punishments.

This is a welcome development.

But is that enough?

Are we being ‘non-violent‘ in the true sense? Verbal attacks which are used instead of physical violence when a parent is frustrated or angry causes life long scars in a child.

Harsh words hurt as much as physical violence. And when such words are continuously used, it can lead to:

  • Low self confidence and self worth
  • Difficulty in expressing themselves
  • Not attempting a task due to fear of failure.
  • Self destructive acts
  • Lack of trust in adults
  • Very defensive or very compliant behaviour

Few harmful things most parents say demeaning words such as:

stupid, idiot, worthless, useless, crazy

Or phrases like:

fit for nothing, don’t you have a brain?,  can’t you follow one instruction properly?

Or comparisons such as:

can’t you do such a small thing, look at your brother, your sister is better than you, look at our neighbours’ children, they are so well mannered“.

Other forms of verbal violence are:

  • Threatening to withdraw support for education or extracurricular activities
  • Blaming children that, because of them you had to forgo so many things
  • Ridiculing them for some habits in front of siblings, family members or friends
  • Criticising the child for every small mistake or careless behaviour.

Children look up to us as role models and when they feel respected, it helps in building their confidence and self esteem. Understanding that verbal violence can cause a lot of harm when used on a regular basis, is a good start towards change.

Non-violent communication is a great way to improve relations with not just your children but also with everyone around you including your family, friends and colleagues.