For me, Emotional abuse also means Psychological abuse and refers to the behaviours, speech, and actions of parents, caregivers, or other significant individuals in a child’s life that have a negative mental impact on the child.
A Parent’s Story
Things went well until I noticed a decline in my child’s academics. He’ll come back from school not interested in anything school work. I began to notice reluctance in getting set every morning for school. He will get down from the bed and drag his feet to the bathroom. He would drag his feet to the breakfast table and drag his feet to the car. The school wasn’t fun anymore. Whenever we get to the school gate this fear engulfs him. I could see it on his face. This went on for two weeks and having observed him carefully, I had noticed:
- Low self-esteem.
- Low academic performance.
- Phobia for academics.
- He began saying negatives about himself.
It was time to speak to him. My son was just six years. To imagine a six-year-old could bottle up hurt?
He broke it “They call me ‘olodo’ (dull) in class. I’m scared of my teacher. When I don’t get an answer correctly, they call me names. I don’t want to go to school anymore mummy”. I couldn’t believe what I had heard.
It was a new class and I had thought all the while that his loss of interest was because he couldn’t play as much as he used to. You know, coming from the Nursery where it was all about more play and not having a classroom structure’- not having to write notes and all. I had screamed at him at some point asking him if he wanted to be out of school and on the streets hawking. I wasn’t sensitive. I didn’t know something had gone wrong.
The height of it was “Mummy please don’t report her, she’ll beat me”. What?? This had eaten deep in just about three weeks? I had to do something.
What I did
- I had to work on my son’s self-esteem. I started by speaking with him that morning. I told him I loved him and nobody could understand him better than I did and especially because the teacher was new to that class. I promised I’ll ensure he is comfortable in school. I had renewed my son’s hope!
- I already had a good relationship with the School Head who was well experienced in matters relating to Child Psychology and Education in general and so speaking with her that morning was a walk over. She totally understood my pain and my son’s fears. She promised to sort things out.
- I continued to observe my son at home. It took a while- about two weeks, but my son was alive again!
I did not withdraw my son from the said school. The matter was properly handled. My son is ten years old. He is a School Prefect which means he is performing uniquely in his academics. My son has regained his self-confidence. I am happy a parent!
In parenting, patience is a vital aspect that often seems to be neglected. We resort to scolding many times because we are exhausted from the day’s work and screaming seems to be the mode of correction that works. Unknown to us, it works (if at all it does) for that short moment. As a parent or caregiver, we need to understand the importance of Patiently working with children.
It is by being patient that one can observe a child’s behaviour pattern to be able to detect ABUSE.