Verbal abuse

The word “abuse” comes from the root words for “misuse.”  Many parents ask me what exactly is verbal abuse.  Parents don’t have to be quiet and “nicey-nicey” all the time.  Healthy family members can get angry and express anger at and to each other.

Certain kinds of expression of anger do harm to the recipient of the anger and to the relationship.  Apologizing later, but verbally  abusing again makes the apology meaningless.

Verbal abuse is:






hurtful teasing

predicting failure (also called forecasting)

What is the alternative to verbal abuse?  Take a deep breath; take a few moments or minutes to calm down and then speak for and about yourself.

“I am very angry that you dumped all your toys out of the toy box.  I want you to put them back.  As soon as the toys are put back in the box we can go to the park.”

Key ideas:  Being a family member is no excuse to verbally abuse someone.  Being a family member is no excuse to allow someone to abuse you.


Melody Matthews Lowman, M.A. has a background in both psychology and education. Her biopsychosocial approach allows her to be a resource for behavioral and educational problem solving for children, teens and adults.
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