Am I Abusing or Disciplining My Child?

Discipline instills education. Abuse instills fear.

If a parent is punishing his/her child to instill fear rather than educate…

If a parent calls his/her child a brat, a monster, ‘you’re stupid, fat, ugly’…

If a child is afraid to be alone with the parent…Then, Yes, you are abusing your child.”  

Discipline is excessive if:
  1. Child is physically injured, including bruising, broken skin, swelling or a situation that requires medical attention
  2. Punishment is meant to instill fear rather than to educate the child
  3. Caretaker, whether a parent, guardian or school official, loses control
  4. Action is inappropriate for the child’s age
  5. Action results from a caretaker’s unreasonable demands or expectations for the child
As a parent, ask yourself:
  1. Do I feel good about this exchange?
  2. Is there an important lesson that I imparted?
  3. Does my child know that I love him or her?
  4. Is there mutual respect, or fear?
  5. Am I behaving in a way that I want my child to emulate?
Abusive adults may share some general characteristics, such as:
  1. Lacks knowledge or understanding of a child’s developmental needs
  2. Shows immature/impulsive behavior or uses children to meet emotional or physical needs
  3. Strict disciplinarian frustrated by unmet expectations for their children; is rigid, compulsive, authoritative or demanding
  4. Unrealistic expectations or standards for him/herself and children
  5. Lacks interpersonal skills and is unable to interact with other people, form relationships or work together with others
  6. Is isolated, with little or no support from family, friends, neighbors and other social groups
  7. Parent looks to children to meet their own basic unmet emotional needs for necessities such as warmth, love and support
  8. Shows poor self-concept and considers themselves unlovable, worthless, or bad
  9. Resents or fears authority
  10. Acts in a hostile and aggressive manner
  11. Shows cruel or sadistic behavior
Victims of physical abuse may show:

1. Repeated, or frequent, unexplained bruises:
– On the face, nose, throat, upper arms, buttocks, thighs or lower back
– In unusual shapes or patterns, or clusters, suggesting use of some instrument (lashes, loops, lines or bites)

2. Burns including:
– Cigarette burns (circular in shape on palms, hands, feet, genitalia or stomach)
– Immersion burns (from being forced into hot water; “glove” effect or could be doughnut-shaped)
– Rope burns
– Burns in shape of common household appliances or utensils

3. Skeletal injuries to the face, skull, or bones around joints; or fractures or dislocations
4. Lacerations; missing, chipped or loose teeth; lost hair or bald patches; broken eardrums

Victims of any abuse may show:
  1. Extreme swings in behaviors (aggression, withdrawal, regression)
  2. Depression or excessive crying
  3. Unbelievable or inconsistent explanations for injuries
  4. Inappropriate fear of a parent or a caretaker
  5. Unusual shyness, or wariness of physical contact
  6. Antisocial behavior such as running away or substance abuse
  7. Reluctance to go home
  8. Belief that punishment is deserved

The information above was obtained from Hamilton County Job and Family Services Website in Ohio

Parents can and should discipline their children. It is a parent’s job to teach their children about expectations, rules, morals and values. Children need to be given consistent discipline to be taught right from wrong, to be kept safe and to learn what they can and cannot do. “The goal of discipline is to create an orderly, predictable, stable, and fun world to enjoy and grow healthy,” according to Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota’s website.  Discipline helps children to learn and change their behavior. 

Child abuse results when discipline or attempts to control a child become excessive and injures the child.

If parents choose to spank their child, it should not be done in a way that causes injury to the child, violates the child or causes humiliation to the child.

*The information above was directly taken from Website by Sarah Smenyak.