Common Indicators of Emotional Abuse

Thank you for visiting our website. Children’s Administration is now part of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Content that previously was bookmarked on this page is now available at dcyf.wa.gov. While some former Children’s Administration content is available at dshs.wa.gov, that information is now outdated. Please visit dcyf.wa.gov for the most current information. Thank you for your understanding.

Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the child:

  • Shows extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity, or aggression.
  • Is either inappropriately adult (parenting other children, for example) or inappropriately infantile (frequently rocking or head-banging, for example).
  • Is delayed in physical or emotional development.
  • Has attempted suicide.
  • Reports a lack of attachment to the parent.

Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Constantly blames, belittles, or berates the child.
  • Is unconcerned about the child and refuses to consider offers of help for the child's problems.
  • Overtly rejects the child.

Author: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (DHHS)