How to deal with emotional abuse from your parents (for adolescents)

How to deal with emotional abuse from your parents (for adolescents)

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse constitutes approximately 8% of child abuse reports. So how would you define this term? How do you know if you, or someone you love, is being emotionally abused?

Emotional abuse can be interpreted as the systematic tearing down of another human being. It encompasses several categories, as follows:

  • Rejecting: Blatantly telling a child that he or she is unwanted, unloved, and/or unimportant. It is the act of discrediting the child as a human being and degrading him or her with looks, words, or actions.
  • Ignoring: Lack of acknowledgement of the child’s presence, pretending he or she is not even there. Typically, when parents ignore their children, it is because their emotional needs were not met when they were young; in turn, they will oftentimes deprive their own children of attachment.
  • Corrupting: Allowing children to harm themselves and others. This includes permission to use drugs and alcohol, watch pornography, or witness violence and other equally destructive behaviors. This can also be exposing a child to dangerous or inappropriate environments.
  • Terrorizing: Singling a child out to punish, defame, and criticize. The child may be threatened or disciplined harshly. They may have unreasonable demands placed upon them and their self-worth is attacked.
  • Isolating: Severe restriction from healthy activities and/or people. A parent may lock a child in the closet, not allow them to leave their room, or, as would be the case more with a teenager than a younger child, prevent the child from having extracurricular activities. (1)
  • Verbally assaulting: This involves constantly belittling, shaming, ridiculing, or verbally threatening the child (2).
  • Denying: When the abuser has said or done something to wrong the child, and when confronted about this, he lies and says, “I never said that,” or “I never did that.” This makes it extremely difficult for a child who is aware of the abusive situation to bring things to light or to let someone else know. Another form of denying is when the parent refuses to listen to any other opinions or viewpoints. It is what some call a “closed door.”
  • Minimizing: A lesser form of denial, in which the abuser will not wholly disclaim their wrongful actions, but will downplay their fault in the situation. The abuser will discredit the emotions of the child, considering them to be inappropriate (3).

Why does this happen?

Emotional abuse is not limited to any particular stereotypical family or parental figure. It can happen in any environment, regardless of income or ethnicity. Oftentimes, however, an emotional abuser was abused himself, physically, sexually, or emotionally, when he was a child as well, and therefore treats his child in the same ways.

Parents who emotionally abuse their children may be doing this because of stress, poor parenting skills, social isolation, lack of available resources, or inappropriate expectations of their children (2). However, contrary to the victim’s belief, it is never their own fault. An emotional abuser will try to make the child believe that he or she is the problem, when in reality the problem lies inside of himself. Children seem to be the most accessible way to rid adults of their own feelings of unease. They either don’t realize, or don’t care about the way they are severely destroying their child’s cognitive development.

How can we tell?

Although an emotionally abused child is not physically displaying signs of their mistreatment, there are many indicators of this form of abuse. First, there are observable symptoms, in which you can see by the child’s appearance that there is something wrong. These are as follows:

  • Child rocks, sucks, bites self
  • Inappropriately aggressive
  • Destructive to others
  • Suffers from sleep or speech disorders
  • Demonstrates compulsions, obsessions, and phobias (3)

Next, behavioral indicators of emotional abuse show through in how a child acts out their pain:

  • Negative statements about self
  • Shy, passive, compliant
  • Lags in physical, mental and emotional development
  • Self destructive behavior
  • Cruel to others
  • Overly demanding (3)

Drug and alcohol abuse is common in emotionally abused individuals. This form of acting out sometimes starts in the very young years, sometimes even before the age of 12. Teenagers have a hard time keeping jobs, and some may also develop suicidal tendencies.

Emotional abuse is a difficult trial for anyone, but especially for children, whose psychological development depends a lot on environment and on adults whom they can trust. An emotional abuser is not someone who the child can rely on and they learn to develop a sense of distrust with everyone around them, which makes it even harder for anyone to intervene and offer help. But, like any other form of abuse, it is possible to mediate, and needs to be addressed. While the damage cannot be reversed, there are professionals who can help children, as well as adults, to work through these issues.

How to deal with emotional abuse from your parents (for adolescents)

Emotional abuse is abuse.

I shouldn’t have to say it, but all too often people wait for bruises to appear before considering a relationship “actually” abusive. Psychological pain can be just as bruising as a slap or punch, even if it leaves no physical mark.

Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse) is categorized by a pattern of behavior that leaves another person feeling isolated, degraded or worthless. It is a way for the abuser to maintain power and control in the relationship.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which means a lot of really great conversations are happening all over the internet about interpersonal violence. I want to pay particular attention to emotional abuse today because even though it’s one of the most common forms of abuse, it often goes unrecognized and undiscussed.

Young people, who are often uncertain of what a healthy relationship actually looks like, may think that emotionally abusive behavior is a normal way to express love.

Teens are still establishing their sense of self and asking important questions about who they are, including “am I lovable?” When young adults stay in an emotionally abusive relationship, their identity gets chipped away at. This is devastating to their self-esteem. Those who are abused often begin to believe what their abusers say about them—that they are worthless and un-lovable. This can lead to isolation, depression, dangerous coping mechanisms such as cutting and using drugs, and even suicide.

Identifying and naming abusive behaviors is one way that victims can regain some control of their lives. While emotional abuse can take many different forms, here are some of the most common ways I’ve seen it play out in teens’ lives.

Intimidation

Intimidation can be subtle, and includes veiled or indirect threats. I’ve had patients whose partners wait for them at their lockers every day, so they have no privacy and understand that they are being watched. This makes the abused feel like they are not in control, and have nowhere to hide. Constantly feeling that way can have a major effect on someone’s overall sense of safety, and often leads to anxiety.

Explicit threats

Other times, intimidation isn’t subtle at all. One patient’s partner told them, “I’m gonna get a bunch of girls to jump you if you break up with me.” Another common threat is that the abuser will say, “I am going to kill myself if you break up with me.” This specific threat leads to the abused feeling guilty, and pushing their own needs aside and staying in this relationship. Things get even more complicated if children are involved. It’s common for abusive partners to threaten to take their partner to court and take their child away from them if they break up, or do something that they don’t like.

Slut shaming

This can also be a form of intimidation, such as, “if you go to that party without me, I’ll tell everyone what we did in bed together.” It’s also a common way to shame a partner: “Since I’ve already tapped that, no one else will want you.” This makes the abused feel trapped, unwanted and ashamed.

Name calling

This behavior is easier to identify. Abusers may directly call their partner ugly, stupid and worthless. Over time, the abused may come to believe what is being said about them, leading to depression and withdrawal.

Gas lighting

This is when an abuser convinces their partner that they remember an event or piece of information wrong. It leads to self-doubt, and becoming uncertain of their own memory and even sanity. Common phrases include “But I never promised that,” “I didn’t stay out late that night,” or “I was just joking.” Over time, it can make someone feel like they are going crazy.

Stonewalling

This is a refusal to communicate. It may look like a partner walking out in the middle of a fight or giving their partner the silent treatment when they’re upset. Sometimes people need to take a break from an argument to calm down and revisit the discussion later, and that’s ok (even healthy), but the behavior becomes abusive when it is continually used as a form of punishment for expressing desires or opinions that your partner doesn’t like. I’ve worked with patients whose partners completely ignored them during the school day, but expressed love and demanded affection when they were alone together. This makes the abused extremely confused and frustrated.

Discouraging and criticizing

“Why would you want to hang out with her?”; “You really want to join that club?”; “But everyone got an A on that test”; “You’re not going to wear that, are you?” Behavior that makes their significant other feel bad about their friends, goals, interests, or how they present themselves is unacceptable. This may lead to withdrawal and isolation—telltale signs of abuse.

Healthy relationships are based on Trust and Respect. Unfortunately, young people are rarely taught about abuse in a meaningful way. The more we talk about emotional abuse—and relationships in general—the more likely it is that young people will speak up about potentially abusive behavior. Talking about abuse is hard for anyone, but particularly for young people. Remember that it is never the victim’s fault. Those who have been abused may want to talk to a therapist—dealing with the psychological effects of abuse can be incredibly difficult, and therapists can help create a safe space for survivors to rediscover their personal identity.

Rachel Colon, LCSW, is a primary care social worker with over 10 years of experience working with survivors of domestic violence.

The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center provides comprehensive, confidential, judgment free health care—including mental health services—at no charge to over 10,000 young people every year. It is located in New York City. This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.

More emotional intensity between parent and teenager is part of adolescence

Posted November 24, 2014

How to deal with emotional abuse from your parents (for adolescents)

Social Detachment means that parents have to start allowing increased freedom to grow, coupled with letting the young person learn from experience (from facing the unhappy consequences of unwise choices, for example) to become more responsibly self-reliant and independent. It can be tough for parents to let go and not protect.

Because they care so much and are so sensitively involved, parents can find Emotional Detachment more complex. This complexity is increased with the onset of adolescence when it’s easier for both teenager and parent to grow more emotionally intense, and their relationship as well. Why more intense?

On the adolescent side there are the loss of childhood security, more separation from parents, the hormonal changes of puberty, the exciting but scary exposure to and experimentation with older experiences, and the social pressures associated with creating and maintaining place among a new family of friends.

On the parent side, there is greater worry from more ignorance about their adolescent’s life, there is more fear of worldly risks and dangers, there is stress from less command and control than they had with the child, and there is more friction as their authority is increasingly questioned and contested for the sake of adolescent independence.

For both parents and teenager, adolescence is a more bruising time when it is easier to feel impatient, frustrated, anxious, offended, or hurt in the relationship. Each party has occasion to get more emotional, and getting more emotional is more at risk of losing the accurate perspective on which emotional detachment depends. The question is: whose feelings belong to whom?

Managing emotional detachment can create two pitfalls: Enmeshment of Feelings and Attribution of Feelings. On the parental side, take them one at a time.

ENMESHMENT OF FEELINGS

Seeing their adolescent sad or mad or hurt, parents often want to empathize to provide emotional support. So when their teenager loses a best friend, or girlfriend or boyfriend, they feel sadness in response to the teenager’s grief at loss. They keep their teenager sensitive emotional company this way.

What parents have to beware here is that Empathy does not become Enmeshment which would begin if they shared in their child’s response: “What happened to you feels like it happened to me.” At this point their own hurt feelings are as much in play as those of the teenager who may feel implicated in their sadness and under emotional obligation to comfort them, when all she or he wanted was their support.

Or in response to their teenager’s quickly changing moods, parents can become emotionally enmeshed when they ride the emotional roller coaster of their teenager’s highs and lows, good days and bad days, allowing the young person’s emotional life to become their own. “We can’t stand seeing her unhappy without feeling unhappy too. Then the only way to cheer ourselves up is getting her to feel better.”

Or consider another common example: when an adolescent, who is on the receiving end of bullying at school, reports victim feelings to parents who, identifying with their teenager, feel victimized themselves. “What was done to our child has been done to us and we won’t be mistreated this way!” Better to keep their own sense of injury separate from the mistreated child who has enough to emotionally deal with already. The young person doesn’t need the problem of injured parents at home on top of the problems of social cruelty at school.

ATTRIBUTION OF FEELINGS.

Sometimes parents, instead of holding on to responsibility for their own emotions, blame their feelings on the actions of their adolescent. “Our child’s moodiness and unpredictability is driving us crazy!” “Our teenager’s self-preoccupation makes so angry!” “Living around this adolescent explosiveness makes us feel anxious all the time!” “The way our teenager tears up the family makes everyone else unhappy!’

On the one hand, it is good for them to use their feelings to locate the teenage actions to which they are responding. This way, they have a focus of concern to address. What is not good, however, is when they attribute their feelings to the adolescent’s actions – a false attribution that both empowers the adolescent and disempowers the parents in an unhealthy way. Now they have just given control of their emotions to the teenager. By blaming that young person for how they feel, they have put their emotions in the teenager’s charge.

When parents vilify the adolescent for causing their unhappy feelings (“He’s makes us so unhappy!”) they do double damage. First, through casting blame parents burden the adolescent with criticism and guilt; and second they victimize themselves by giving the teenager ruling power over their emotional lives. This is a losing proposition all the way around.

Better for them to hold on to emotional responsibility: “How our adolescent chooses to act is up to her; how we choose to emotionally respond to her behavior is up to us. She has no power to make us feel one way or another. That is always our decision. We are free to decide not to feel driven crazy, not to get angry, or not to become anxious. Blame hurts us all.”

Maintaining emotional detachment during their daughter or son’s adolescence can be very challenging to do — not becoming Enmeshed with the young person’s feelings and making them their own, and not Attributing (through blame) their unhappy feelings to how the young person is behaving. For their sake, and for that of their teenager, practicing Emotional Detachment is well worth the effort.

All this said: expressing empathetic concern when the adolescent is going through a time of undue stress or painful loss, feeling what it must be like for your teenager so they know they are not alone can be a powerful emotional support. I think the guidelines for parents providing this in-depth caring for a young person in need of such close company are two.

First, parents need to recognize that sustained emotional support can be expensive to give. As the teenager unloads to feel better, the parent can load up, run down, and feel worse. So second, to be with their adolescent who is going through a period of extended suffering, it is usually wise for the caring parent to take good care of themselves. They can do this by getting outside company from another family member, close friend, support group, or counselor to confide in, to ease the burden of their care giving role.

So: don’t ride the roller coaster of your teenager’s emotions; don’t blame your feelings on the teenager; and if choosing to give sustained emotional support, make sure you have enough emotional support yourself to support detachment, so you can afford the cost.

For more about parenting adolescents, see my book, “SURVIVING YOUR CHILD’S ADOLESCENCE,” (Wiley, 2013.) Information at: www.carlpickhardt.com

Next week’s entry: Parental Adjustment to the Adolescent’s Family of Friends

More emotional intensity between parent and teenager is part of adolescence

Posted November 24, 2014

How to deal with emotional abuse from your parents (for adolescents)

Social Detachment means that parents have to start allowing increased freedom to grow, coupled with letting the young person learn from experience (from facing the unhappy consequences of unwise choices, for example) to become more responsibly self-reliant and independent. It can be tough for parents to let go and not protect.

Because they care so much and are so sensitively involved, parents can find Emotional Detachment more complex. This complexity is increased with the onset of adolescence when it’s easier for both teenager and parent to grow more emotionally intense, and their relationship as well. Why more intense?

On the adolescent side there are the loss of childhood security, more separation from parents, the hormonal changes of puberty, the exciting but scary exposure to and experimentation with older experiences, and the social pressures associated with creating and maintaining place among a new family of friends.

On the parent side, there is greater worry from more ignorance about their adolescent’s life, there is more fear of worldly risks and dangers, there is stress from less command and control than they had with the child, and there is more friction as their authority is increasingly questioned and contested for the sake of adolescent independence.

For both parents and teenager, adolescence is a more bruising time when it is easier to feel impatient, frustrated, anxious, offended, or hurt in the relationship. Each party has occasion to get more emotional, and getting more emotional is more at risk of losing the accurate perspective on which emotional detachment depends. The question is: whose feelings belong to whom?

Managing emotional detachment can create two pitfalls: Enmeshment of Feelings and Attribution of Feelings. On the parental side, take them one at a time.

ENMESHMENT OF FEELINGS

Seeing their adolescent sad or mad or hurt, parents often want to empathize to provide emotional support. So when their teenager loses a best friend, or girlfriend or boyfriend, they feel sadness in response to the teenager’s grief at loss. They keep their teenager sensitive emotional company this way.

What parents have to beware here is that Empathy does not become Enmeshment which would begin if they shared in their child’s response: “What happened to you feels like it happened to me.” At this point their own hurt feelings are as much in play as those of the teenager who may feel implicated in their sadness and under emotional obligation to comfort them, when all she or he wanted was their support.

Or in response to their teenager’s quickly changing moods, parents can become emotionally enmeshed when they ride the emotional roller coaster of their teenager’s highs and lows, good days and bad days, allowing the young person’s emotional life to become their own. “We can’t stand seeing her unhappy without feeling unhappy too. Then the only way to cheer ourselves up is getting her to feel better.”

Or consider another common example: when an adolescent, who is on the receiving end of bullying at school, reports victim feelings to parents who, identifying with their teenager, feel victimized themselves. “What was done to our child has been done to us and we won’t be mistreated this way!” Better to keep their own sense of injury separate from the mistreated child who has enough to emotionally deal with already. The young person doesn’t need the problem of injured parents at home on top of the problems of social cruelty at school.

ATTRIBUTION OF FEELINGS.

Sometimes parents, instead of holding on to responsibility for their own emotions, blame their feelings on the actions of their adolescent. “Our child’s moodiness and unpredictability is driving us crazy!” “Our teenager’s self-preoccupation makes so angry!” “Living around this adolescent explosiveness makes us feel anxious all the time!” “The way our teenager tears up the family makes everyone else unhappy!’

On the one hand, it is good for them to use their feelings to locate the teenage actions to which they are responding. This way, they have a focus of concern to address. What is not good, however, is when they attribute their feelings to the adolescent’s actions – a false attribution that both empowers the adolescent and disempowers the parents in an unhealthy way. Now they have just given control of their emotions to the teenager. By blaming that young person for how they feel, they have put their emotions in the teenager’s charge.

When parents vilify the adolescent for causing their unhappy feelings (“He’s makes us so unhappy!”) they do double damage. First, through casting blame parents burden the adolescent with criticism and guilt; and second they victimize themselves by giving the teenager ruling power over their emotional lives. This is a losing proposition all the way around.

Better for them to hold on to emotional responsibility: “How our adolescent chooses to act is up to her; how we choose to emotionally respond to her behavior is up to us. She has no power to make us feel one way or another. That is always our decision. We are free to decide not to feel driven crazy, not to get angry, or not to become anxious. Blame hurts us all.”

Maintaining emotional detachment during their daughter or son’s adolescence can be very challenging to do — not becoming Enmeshed with the young person’s feelings and making them their own, and not Attributing (through blame) their unhappy feelings to how the young person is behaving. For their sake, and for that of their teenager, practicing Emotional Detachment is well worth the effort.

All this said: expressing empathetic concern when the adolescent is going through a time of undue stress or painful loss, feeling what it must be like for your teenager so they know they are not alone can be a powerful emotional support. I think the guidelines for parents providing this in-depth caring for a young person in need of such close company are two.

First, parents need to recognize that sustained emotional support can be expensive to give. As the teenager unloads to feel better, the parent can load up, run down, and feel worse. So second, to be with their adolescent who is going through a period of extended suffering, it is usually wise for the caring parent to take good care of themselves. They can do this by getting outside company from another family member, close friend, support group, or counselor to confide in, to ease the burden of their care giving role.

So: don’t ride the roller coaster of your teenager’s emotions; don’t blame your feelings on the teenager; and if choosing to give sustained emotional support, make sure you have enough emotional support yourself to support detachment, so you can afford the cost.

For more about parenting adolescents, see my book, “SURVIVING YOUR CHILD’S ADOLESCENCE,” (Wiley, 2013.) Information at: www.carlpickhardt.com

Next week’s entry: Parental Adjustment to the Adolescent’s Family of Friends

Dating violence and abuse are never your fault — you deserve to feel safe with the person you’re dating. Learn the signs of an abusive relationship, and what you can do if you’re in one.

What is dating violence?

Dating violence is when someone you’re going out with hurts you or repeatedly tries to control you. It can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter your age, gender, sexual orientation, how long you’ve been with the person, or how serious the relationship is. Being abused is never your fault.

Abusive relationships can look like:

Physical abuse — hitting, choking, pushing, breaking or throwing things out of anger, grabbing you too hard, or blocking the door when you try to leave. It’s abuse even if it doesn’t leave a bruise or mark.

Verbal abuse — yelling at you or calling you dumb, ugly, crazy, or some other insult.

Emotional abuse — telling you that no one else would want to be with you, making you feel guilty for something you did that wasn’t wrong, making you feel like you don’t deserve love, saying it’s your fault they treat you badly, blaming you for their anger and abuse, playing mind games, or trying to get you to believe untrue things about yourself.

Digital abuse — hacking into your accounts, controlling what you do on social media, stalking your profiles.

Isolation and jealousy — trying to control where you go and who you hang out with, getting extremely jealous.

Intimidation or threats — threatening to break up with you, threatening violence (towards you or themselves), or threatening to share your secrets as a way to control you.

Peer pressure — pressuring you to use drugs, alcohol, or do other things you don’t want to do.

Sexual violence — pressuring or forcing you to have sex or do sexual things when you don’t want to, or stopping you from using birth control or condoms when you want to.

These behaviors are ways for your boyfriend or girlfriend to control you or have all the power in your relationship. Any kind of abuse can make you feel stressed out, mad, or depressed. Dating violence can affect how you do in school, or cause you to use drugs or alcohol to deal with the abuse.

How do I know if my relationship is abusive?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. But if you think you’re being treated badly, you probably are. Trust your gut. Healthy relationships make you feel good about yourself, not bad.

You’re probably in an abusive relationship if the person you’re dating:

Calls, texts, or messages you all the time asking you where you are, what you’re doing, or who you’re with

Checks your phone, email, or social networking messages without your OK

Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with

Threatens to “out” your secrets, like your sexual orientation or gender identity

Stalks you or keeps track of what you’re doing on social media

Pressures you to sext

Says mean or embarrassing things about you in front of other people

Acts jealous or tries to stop you from spending time with other people

Has a bad temper and you’re afraid of making them mad

Accuses you of cheating or doing something wrong all the time

Threatens to kill or hurt themselves, or hurt you if you break up with them

Hurts you physically

If you think you’re in an abusive relationship, talk with your parents or other adults you trust. They can help you figure it out, and also help you end the relationship safely.

What should I do if I’m in an abusive relationship?

If you’re in an abusive relationship, you need to get out of it. Breaking up with someone who’s abusive can be really hard, especially if you love them. It’s totally normal and okay to miss them. Just keep reminding yourself why you want to break up. You need to do what’s best for you.

When you’re ready to break up, don’t let them talk you out of it. If they threaten to hurt you or themselves or someone else, tell an adult you trust right away. Your safety is the most important thing. Don’t be afraid to ask your parents and friends for help. If breaking up in person sounds scary or unsafe, it might be better to call, text, or email.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, know that you’re not alone and that you deserve better. Abuse is never your fault. It’s not right for anyone to hurt you, make you feel bad about yourself, or pressure you to do things you don’t want to do. Everyone gets mad sometimes, but talking about it is the way to deal with problems — not hurting you or putting you down.

For more advice on ending abusive relationships, visit LoveisRespect.com.

How can I help a friend who’s in an abusive relationship?

Watching a friend be in an abusive relationship is really hard. But sometimes the best way to support them is to listen without judging them.

One easy thing you can do to help your friend stay safe is to not mention or tag them on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites. That’s extra important if the person they’re dating has stalked or tracked them online.

You can also try to get your friend help in your school or community. Parents, teachers, and other adults you trust can be really good at dealing with problems like this. If you think your friend might not be safe, talk to someone about it right away.

Let your friend make their own decisions. You can give support and advice, but don’t tell them what to do. And don’t get mad if they don’t do what you think they should. Getting out of an abusive relationship can take time and can be really hard — sometimes even dangerous. It can be even harder if your friend loves the person who’s hurting them.

It’s totally normal to get frustrated. But try to keep being a good friend. Do fun stuff with them and remind them how great they are and how much they deserve love and respect from the people in their life. Sometimes just being there and letting them know you care and is the best thing you can do.

Help us improve – how could this information be more helpful?

Last Updated: June 6, 2021 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.

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Emotionally abusive behavior is when something is said, implied, or done to intentionally hurt someone’s feelings on a consistent basis over an extended period of time. [1] X Research source The day-to-day bickering, teasing, insulting or other negative behaviors do happen in ordinary relationships. However, a pattern of emotionally hurtful behavior can eventually evolve into an emotionally abusive relationship. You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner makes you feel like you’re not good enough, calls you names or puts you down, threatens or intimidates you, or you fear your partner leaving you. [2] X Research source If you are in an abusive relationship, recognize that you cannot change your partner and it is best to seek help and leave the relationship.

Adolescence is a time when the brain is in full development and the connections between the most emotional part and the most rational part are still being created, according to experts

Adolescents are in a vital moment of exploration (and explosion), going through two stages that, from one to another, there is an abyss.

They try to know who they are and it is natural for an emotional and, even at times, physical separation to occur with the family.

The psychologist and counselor Natalia Redondo affirms that adolescence is a time when the brain is in full development and the connections between the most emotional part and the most rational part are still being created: “For this reason, they have difficulties to recognize their emotions, they feel insecure, with self-esteem problems and this stress translates into intense feelings and sensations.

What makes its handling difficult because they do not have enough tools ”.

Teens in summer: recommendations so that they do not get carried away by laziness 24 hours a day

“My daughter does not want to go down to the pool”: these are the consequences of gordofobia in children

Literature professor José Luis Merino invites us to reflect: “At this time we all live intensely, to believe that only adolescents do it is not to look in the mirror.

Expressing emotions generates

on social networks and may be the seed of this extreme externalization of emotions in the new generations ”.

For Merino, if not so long ago, the middle ground was the ideal model, “now it seems that if one has not had the worst day in the world or the best day in history, what he has lived does not interest anyone”.

It is a stage of change, and not only for the adolescents themselves, but also for the parents who accompany them. “The first thing we need as parents is to understand what is happening and in what vital moment they are. It is a period in which roles are redefined, ”says Natalia Redondo. Adolescents need to explore their surroundings, they look for novelty and this makes them bond with their peer group and withdraw from family and environment. “Parents have to assume the new roles and at the same time not let ourselves be carried away by the negative emotions that this produces in us. It is something natural and that, by the way, does not only happen in the human species ”, says Redondo who considers that it is also the moment in which they learn to make their own decisions, to be autonomous and to manage independence.The counselor recommends that we “put ourselves in their shoes and think that we too did not know what decisions to make and we screwed up on more than one occasion, but you learn by trying”.

For the psychologist Marta Segrelles, there are times when the family does not validate the importance of the emotions or feelings of adolescents: “They seem to us to be exaggerated reactions, but it is that they do not handle the capacities that adults have, that is why it is important to guide and teach them how, to observe them from curiosity and respect and ask them: can I do something for you? ”. Boys and girls are trying to meet and find out who they are, that is why it is essential to show interest, “that we maintain a curious attitude to know who they are, what their tastes are, what they have fun with, their concerns and what concerns them . all if they tell us what they consider to try not to judge them ”.Segrelles assures that in psychology adolescence is often treated as a second birth “since as children we want the acceptance of parents and adolescents from the peer group.”

Jose Luis Merino points out: “As a teacher and as a father, I think it is important to leave space.

If someone is frustrated, do not rush to comfort them, but let them process it.

And then sit down and talk ”.

For example, when the teacher receives a bad answer in class, he asks them to go to the bathroom and wash their face.

“When they leave the classroom and come back in, things usually go much better.”

We all need a margin and they even more.

Boys and girls can have thousands of followers and hundreds of comments but feel deeply alone: ​​“Their

—Best friends— on the least expected day they post a screenshot of a private conversation and ruin their social life; in addition, many parents are from 8 to 8 in the office and that is why they sign them up for endless activities ”. So loneliness is a common feeling at this stage. For Professor Merino, what they are most lacking is someone who feels face to face with them “and without looking at the clock tell them what’s wrong, tell me, I’m not going to judge you or tell anyone about it.” He assures that “if you are a teacher close to adolescents, many times they will tell you very long dramas that in a week they will have completely forgotten”, but consider that this time is not a badly invested time, “since what they are living in that moment is a real drama and you were the only one there. But also,they can tell you about real family problems in which you have to immediately ask for help and intervene ”. Therefore, listening and not turning your back is always the right option.

The absence of emotional support in childhood can be damaging and long-lasting.

THE BASICS

  • Understanding Child Development
  • Find a child or adolescent therapist near me

How to deal with emotional abuse from your parents (for adolescents)

Physical abuse can leave physical scars, while emotional abuse leaves psychic ones, but what about emotional neglect? The absence of emotional support in childhood can be as damaging and long-lasting as other traumas. But, because you can’t point to exactly where and when the wounding happened, it can be hard to identify and overcome it. Emotional neglect is not the same as child abuse because it is often unintentional. While some parents might intentionally ignore their child’s emotions, others may fail to notice or respond to their child’s emotional needs. Your parents could have tried their best and loved you very much, but they may still have neglected your emotional needs, nonetheless.

Your parents may have been emotionally neglected by their own parents, and because they didn’t have good role models for how to treat a child’s emotions, they didn’t know how to treat yours. Even if they tried to correct for the mistakes their parents made, they might still have come up short. Illness, death, divorce, and job losses can all lead to emotional neglect because the parents may not have the ability to respond to their child’s emotional needs.

When parents treat children’s emotions as unimportant, not valid, excessive, or of lesser importance than other issues, they neglect the child emotionally. Some phrases that may be familiar to you if you were a victim of childhood emotional neglect include:

  • “You don’t really feel that way.”
  • “It wasn’t that bad.”
  • “It’s not worth getting upset about.”
  • “Stop being so dramatic.”

When your parents don’t notice, value, or respond to your emotions, or they question your emotions when you express them, they unintentionally send a message to you that your feelings don’t matter or that there’s something wrong with the way you feel. To cope, you learned to bury your feelings or to transform an “unacceptable” emotion like anger into an “acceptable” one like anxiety.

Does this sound like it might describe your childhood? Here are 9 signs you may have suffered from childhood emotional neglect:

  1. You’re afraid of relying on others, and you reject offers of help, support, or care.
  2. You have a hard time identifying your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and life goals.
  3. You are harder on yourself than you would be even on a stranger, and you lack self-compassion and understanding.
  4. You blame yourself almost exclusively, direct your anger inward, or feel guilt or shame about your needs or feelings.
  5. You feel numb, empty, or cut off from your emotions, or you feel unable to manage or express them.
  6. You are easily overwhelmed and give up quickly.
  7. You have low self-esteem.
  8. You are extra sensitive to rejection.
  9. You believe you are deeply flawed, and that there’s something about you that is wrong even though you can’t specifically name what it is.

If these signs sound familiar to you, and you think you may be a victim of childhood emotional neglect, there are things you can do to heal.

1. Learn to recognize your emotions. If your parents treated your emotions like they weren’t valid or essential, you might have trouble as an adult identifying what you feel or knowing how to behave when difficult emotions arise. Without feelings, decision-making is almost impossible. How we feel drives our choices. What we do, where we go, who we spend time with, and even what we eat are decisions made through emotion. They tell us how we feel about our world, others, and ourselves.

2. Identify your needs and ask others to meet them. You deserve to have your needs met just like anyone else does. Start small by asking for things that should be easy to achieve. For example, ask for a hug from your best friend or partner when you’re sad, or for a few moments of quiet when you get home from work after a hard day.

THE BASICS

  • Understanding Child Development
  • Find a child or adolescent therapist near me

3. Find a therapist. A therapist can’t undo your childhood or erase mistakes your parents made, but they can provide you with the emotional toolkit your parents didn’t. A good therapist can help you identify your emotions, ask for what you need, learn to trust others, build self-esteem, handle rejection, build self-love, and more. To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

Childhood emotional neglect may not leave scars, but it does real harm to children and to the adults they become. To heal, you have to turn what’s invisible visible. Name it, explore it, learn from it, and recover.

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