5 Ways to Avoid Using Verbal Abuse

Last week, I attended a workshop that was about the negative effects that verbal abuse had on children and teens. I attended because I experienced “discipline” that in today’s terms is verbal abuse.

For instance, when I was younger and my dad would lose his temper, he would say, “You’re the stupidest girl in the world.”  After he calmed down, he’d apologize and say that he didn’t mean it. Even though my dad didn’t mean it, the damage was already done- I internalized the criticism.

Another instance was when I was nineteen. My mom shamed me for going out at night. She’d say, “Only prostitutes go out at night.” It made me want to spite her even more after she said that.

I understand that my parents were born in the 1950’s and the Philippines, and that they grew up with corrections like what they practiced with me. During that time, corporal punishment,” was pertinent and practiced by many families they knew.

Despite their background, I wished my parents knew more effective ways how to discipline me without resorting to name-calling, shaming, and yelling.

Here are tools that I wished they acquired during their parenting times.

How Adults Can Avoid Verbal Abuse Towards Children.  

1. Identify Your Triggers: Why are you resorting to verbal abuse when disciplining a child? Do yourself have experience with consistent criticisms and yelling? Do you lack awareness of other less harmful punishment methods?

2. Is this the right time to punish the child? It’s important to be calm when disciplining because its important to think what would be the appropriate consequence to a negative action. As a young child, my parents often disciplined me during times when they were emotional. They said things they regretted and it often affected me in an adverse manner.

3. Use the T.H.I.N.K method before speaking to your child: 

  • T stands for True. Is what you’re going to say truthful? Or is it in the moment?
  • H stands for Honest. Is it honest? Is that how you feel?
  • I stands for Inspiring. Is what you’re going to say going to be inspiring? Instead of criticizing the child, say something that will motivate him or her to choose a more positive choice.
  • N stands for necessary. Is your discipline necessary right now?
  • K stands for Kind.  Is what you’re going to say going to be kind? You can be kind, but firm when giving out corrections to a child or adolescent.

4. Understand what is age appropriate behavior and what is not age-appropriate behavior. Also, avoid setting unrealistic expectations.– Its important to understand what demeanor is appropriate for child and adolescents and what’s not. For example, younger children, especially ones under 5, are ego focused. They still are understanding their world around them and it takes time. So if they only see things in their own way, that’s normal. Don’t yell at them, but rather show them that there are others they have to think about besides themselves.

5. Practice saying positive affirmations when you’re feeling emotional: Positive affirmations such as:

  • “I’m doing the best I can do right now in this situation.”
  • “This too shall pass.
  • “I am not my emotions. I can control my behavior.”

can help bring peacefulness to one’s thoughts and redirect the interaction.

These methods not only can help with your own offspring but also when dealing with other children as well.

Photo Courtesy by Jane Fox via Flickr.