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Could My Child Be Abusive?

Parent-bullying isn’t just a stage your child will grow out of

  • March 21, 2016
  • By domesticshelters.org
Could My Child Be Abusive?

An online search for resources on “dealing with an abusive child” generates a number of results on “child abuse.” But the reality is, some parents may feel as though they are the ones being bullied—a form of abuse—or abused by their child.

And although it can be hard to acknowledge that that sweet child you raised has become verbally, emotionally or even physically abusive, aggressive behavior that makes a parent fearful is not a normal part of adolescence.

Why is your child acting that way? In some cases, this can be learned behavior from growing up with childhood domestic violence. Other reasons, Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner, licensed social workers, told EmpoweringParents.com, may include a lack of boundaries, poor coping skills, substance abuse (either by a parent or the child) or an underlying psychological condition such as ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder.

There are steps you can take to banish the bullying from your home and regain your sanity. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Watch for early signs. Some experts point to temper tantrums, threats and manipulations as tactics that children use to bully their parents. The more they gain ground with these tactics, the more they use them. And the harder it can be for the parent to take back control.

2. Be mindful of mimicking. Children—especially young ones—are easily influenced by what they see. Do they see abuse at home? What about at a friend’s house? Are they being bullied at school and bringing those behaviors home? If you’re not aware of abusive behavior they could be modeling, start asking probing questions.

3. Stay calm and in control. It’s hard to calm a child if you are out of control yourself. It certainly can be challenging, but when you see your child getting increasingly upset, take a deep breath and keep your own posture and tone as relaxed as possible to ensure the situation doesn’t escalate. If you feel like you’re losing control, don’t be afraid to call a time-out. Give both of you time to calm down and then return for a rational conversation. Plus, this helps set a good example for positive interactions and productive conversation.

4. Recognize solitary outbursts vs. patterns. A teenager who doesn’t get his or her way might scream and yell that he or she hates you. Your child might call you names. Or get in your face. Tweens and teens are notorious for arguing with their parents. It’s a natural part of human development that we face off against our parents and challenge their authority—to a point. But a pattern of bullying or any physical assaults must be acknowledged and dealt with. Individual or family counseling may be able to help you and your child find the root issues and work through them constructively.

5. Seek out resources. For a child who is bullying or abusive, therapy can be a good start. You may also find some benefits in classes that help your child learn more positive ways to communicate. You might also want to explore parenting books and classes that can offer additional guidance.

Check out the recommended books on domestic violence especially for teens and children on DomesticShelters.org