Emotional abuse/harm happens when a caregiver treats a child in an extremely negative way that damages self-esteem and the concept of “self.” This type of behaviour might include constant yelling, demeaning remarks, rejection or isolation, or exposing a child to domestic violence.
These are actions, failures to act or patterns of neglect which result in the child demonstrating serious anxiety, depression, withdrawal, self-destructive or aggressive behaviour or delayed development in a child.
Emotional abuse also occurs when a child exhibits these serious behaviours and the person having charge of the child does not provide services or treatment to alleviate the harm.
The signs and indicators of emotional abuse may include but are not limited to those that follow. It is important to realize that the presence of any one indicator is not conclusive proof that a child has been abused. In most instances, abused children will exhibit a number of behavioural and physical indicators.
Behavioural indicators in children
Extreme withdrawal or aggressiveness
Overly compliant, too well mannered, too neat or too clean
Extreme attention seeking
Display of extreme inhibition in play
Physical indicators in children
Bed wetting that is non-medical in origin
Frequent psychosomatic complaints, headaches, nausea, abdominal pains
Failure to thrive, e.g., poor weight gain