Published: 10th July 2019
Children mocked by parents at higher risk of bullying and victimisation, says a new study
It was found that derisive parenting fosters dysregulated anger in adolescent children. Increases in dysregulated anger, in turn, place adolescents at greater risk for bullying
Dear parents, please take note. Kids who are mocked by parents are at a greater risk of becoming bullies and its victim too, researchers said, stressing that many bullies come from hostile, punitive and rejecting backgrounds.
According to experts, derisive behaviour is a unique form of parenting that increases the risk of adolescent children adopting inappropriate anger management strategies that increases their risk for peer difficulties.
"Constant criticism affects the self-esteem of a child, especially when done by parents. Children tend to feel inferior and lose their sense of confidence. This affects their relationship with parents, making them more vulnerable to various other forms of bullying that happen through their peers.
"Due to hesitation in seeking help, children end up enduring bullying. This has a long-term negative effect on their psyche and overall personality development," Samir Parikh, Consultant Psychiatrist at Fortis Hospital in Delhi, said.
Derisive parents use demeaning or belittling expressions that humiliate and frustrate the child, without any obvious provocation from the child. These parents respond to child engagement with criticism, sarcasm, put-downs, hostility and rely on emotional and physical coercion to obtain compliance.
Published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, the study in which researchers followed 1,409 children (aged 13-15 years) for three consecutive years, emphasised the emotional underpinnings of peer difficulties.
It was found that derisive parenting fosters dysregulated anger in adolescent children. Increases in dysregulated anger, in turn, place adolescents at greater risk for bullying and victimization.
Dysregulated anger is indicative of difficulties regulating emotion, which typically results in negative emotions, verbal and physical aggression and hostility.
The behaviour of parents, as well as other close family members towards children, do have a lasting impact on their personality and mental development, said mental health expert Prakriti Poddar, Director at Poddar Foundation in Mumbai.
"Subjecting a child to insult, mockery or derision creates a wave of repressed anger and frustration in the child. Imagine a child telling a parent or another family member about an incident or about his/her understanding of a subject, and the parent responding by mocking or belittling the child! Now imagine, if this happens regularly. Not only will the child lose trust in the parent and stop confiding things, he/she will also grow into a vexed and confused personality," Poddar said.
"This child would not be confident about himself, will have repressed feelings of frustration and in a way will also start normalising the behaviour of insulting of belittling others. This creates problems with peer adjustment and might lead the child to start victimising or bullying others. kids develop in response to their environment, therefore, when their environment is toxic or negative, it breeds self-harm," she added.