In this article, we examine the definition of coercive parenting and consider the various negative ways that it can affect children.
Relationships between parents and children aren’t always straight forward and, under certain circumstances, these relationships can become slightly toxic and even abusive.
Not all forms of abuse are physical, which is why coercive control law was introduced. This protects people from controlling behaviour and mistreatment, whether in parent-child relationships, or romantic relationships with their partners.
In this article, we take a look at what exactly coercive parenting is, and how it affects children. Take a look…
What is coercive parenting?
Coercive parenting refers to using cruel behaviour including threatening, shouting, hitting, psychological control, or rejection. The behaviour is used to force the child to obey and behave as the parent wants them to. Coercive parenting may also include harsh behaviours, such as name calling, and frequent displays of anger and aggression.
These parents tend to assert power and are often intrusive. In some cases, coercive parenting is more about asserting powering as opposed to simply guiding the behaviour of the child.
How does coercive parenting affect kids?
Coercive parenting involves using controlling behaviour. In some cases, the actions of a coercive parent can be subtle, in other instances, the situation becomes serious and even violent. Coercive parenting affects kids in many negative ways, including:
1. Behavioural issues
Children who are subjected to coercive parenting are far more likely to have behavioural issues. Kids who face frequently aggressive behaviour may imitate this type of behaviour when they are interacting with other children.
Once the cycle begins, it can be difficult to break. Children who are often exposed to mistreatment at home may find it hard to adhere to normal social expectations at school. These kids are likely to find themselves frequently in trouble.
Getting into trouble at school only makes the situation worse. The child is likely to feel even more alienated from those around them, and the parent’s behaviour may also become more severe.
2. Mental health issues
Kids who are raised by coercive parents may end up experiencing mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Coercive control and mistreatment can severely impact a child’s emotional state. The longer they are subjected to coercive parenting patterns, the more likely it is that their mental health will be affected in the long-term.
The difficulty is, it’s not always easy to recognise the children that have coercive parents or know how to step in and offer support. In many cases, coercive parents act in this way because they were subjected to coercive treatment by their own parents. Behaviour cycles like this tend to repeat.
The sad reality is, many coercive parents do not appreciate that their behaviour is problematic and are therefore unlikely to change.
3. Relationship problems
Kids with controlling and domineering parents often have problems with their own relationships as adults. They may be more likely to enter into romantic relationships that replicate these patterns of coercive control.
Often, these children must address the issues that arose during their childhood, using strategies such as cognitive behavioural therapy. Many psychiatrists assert that the experiences that we have during childhood shape our adult experiences, influencing our interactions without us realising.
Coercive control can be an incredibly serious issue in family relationships and romantic relationships. In severe cases of manipulation and wrongdoing, individuals may be committing an offense that’s punishable by coercive control law.
4. Low self-esteem
Our experiences as children influence the way that we feel about ourselves, as well as the way that we relate to others. Kids who have been treated in a coercive and controlling manner by their parents may experience low self-esteem.
When the coercive and or aggressive behaviour takes place from a young age, children may not realise the extent of mistreatment by their parents, and simply come to view this behaviour as normal.
Healing low-self-esteem after a troublesome relationship can take years of unlearning. So, many of these children will find that their personalities are affected in the long term.
5. Academic issues
When kids are struggling at home, these struggles tend to affect their performance at school. Children with a difficult home life may experience academic struggles. If these struggles remain unsolved, they may experience similar problems in college, or later when they enter the workforce.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult for children to move past their problems when they are still living in the family home. Later on, these kids are faced with the task of rebuilding their confidence and skills.
6. Physical health
Mental and physical health are intrinsically connected, and so when a child is suffering with their mental health, their physical health will deteriorate too. When a child is going through a bad time, physical symptoms they might experience include loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, or lack of energy.
When left unchecked, the child may end up suffering from ongoing health problems. Sleep issues can leave the immune system weak; the child may often feel irritable and down, which may further contribute to their childhood behavioural issues.
7. Problems with trust
When children have problematic relationships with their caregivers, it can be difficult for them to trust others. Kids who experience coercive parenting may find themselves wary of other people, relationships, or suffering from social anxiety.
It can be difficult for these children to move past the difficult experiences that they have faced. For many of them, it may take a long while to recognise their setbacks and enter into healthy relationships.
How coercive parenting affects kids
As we’ve discussed, coercive parenting has many negative effects on children. These kids are more likely to experience poor mental and physical health and behavioural problems.
Children with coercive parents may struggle in their adult relationships, and enter into problematic relationships that repeat their early experiences. Luckily, coercive control law is designed to protect individuals who are in controlling relationships, whether this is with family members or with romantic partners.