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Parental Trolling : what the Ridiculing of a Child can lead to

05.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin
Parents make fun of their children

Children who are constantly joked about and mocked at by their parents are more likely to be bullied by peers during adolescence.

The behaviour of the parents directly affects the formation of the child’s personality and his/her subsequent contact with the outer world. Beatings leave scars and bruises, but also traces remain after cruel words. Nobody sees – so, there is no problem. 

A study carried out by an international group of researchers from Florida Atlantic University (USA), Concordia University (Canada) and Uppsala University (Sweden) revealed evidence that adolescents often suffer from a special, insufficiently studied form of parenting – unconscious verbal violence. This is expressed in seemingly innocent ridicules and mocking. 

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Longitudinal research has provided a clear picture of how caustic and ironic criticism from parents affects the adolescent’s ability to maintain good peer relationships. Parents, even if they are loving ones, allow themselves to make degrading, offensive statements, and comments about the child, ridiculing and devaluing any actions or achievements. These parents can be called toxic. They do not realize what harm they are inflicting upon the child with their “jokes”, just as they do not understand the true, deep reason for such behaviour – a desire to assert themselves at the expense of a weaker individual.

For three years, researchers studied the lives of 1409 adolescents from 13 to 15 years old. It turned out that ridicules from parents and the inability to respond to them cause and then strengthen uncontrollable anger in the child’s mind, which, in turn, speaks of an inability to control their emotions, hostility and aggression towards other people. The development of uncontrollable anger leads to the fact that the teenager becomes both an aggressor and a victim. He/she is a victim of aggressors and becomes an aggressor towards the weaker. 

Sometimes the behaviour of their parents seems harmless in itself. Jokes are funny and ironic criticism is amusing. But parents do not realize how much it hurts and humiliates the child, even if they laugh at these jokes together with their family. In the future, they may not associate such a communication style and parent-child relationships with adolescent problems. Psychologists warn though that every action and statement about a child leaves an imprint upon the personality. You should take responsibility for your words and deeds.