Identifying Signs of Emotional Abuse

Consider the possibility of emotional abuse when

The child:

  • Shows extremes in behavior, such as being overly compliant, demanding, extremely passive or aggressive
  • Is inappropriately adult(parenting other children, for example)or inappropriately infantile (frequently rocking or head-banging)
  • Is delayed in physical or emotional development compared to other children the same age
  • Talks about hurting himself or has attempted suicide
  • Shows signs of an angry, hostile or ambivalent attachment to the parent
  • Shows dramatic changes in behavior in a short period of time

The parent or adult caregiver:

  • Openly rejects the child
  • Regularly blames, belittles or berates the child
  • Calls the child inappropriate names
  • Compares the child negatively to siblings or other children
  • Is unconcerned about the child’s feelings
  • Refuses to consider offers of help for the child’s problems

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