Could Peaceful Parenting Help Prevent Child Abuse?


handprintsImagine this scenario: A child will not go to bed. Everyone is tired. But the baby cries and cries and no one is getting any sleep. The more the child cries, the more that child's stress levels go up, the more the parent is stressed out. Add to that the everyday things that make our blood pressure rise -- mounting bills, trouble at work, a disagreement with a family member -- and that scenario can lead to a person lashing out ... at the child.

We're always going to have these stresses. It's how we cope with these stresses that is key. Key in not having more victims of shaken baby syndrome because the little one won't sleep. We need to protect these children from being abused. Because the stats are alarming. It's been reported that child abuse in infants is a bigger threat than sudden infant death syndrome.

Close to 4,600 U.S. children were hospitalized because they were physically abused in 2006, with babies under 1 being the most abused. It's hard to handle this information. Researchers out of Yale who led the study said there were 58 cases of abuse per 100,000 babies, making it a bigger threat to infants than SIDS. The leader of the study, Dr. John Leventhal, makes a great point:

There is a national campaign to prevent SIDS. We need a national campaign related to child abuse where every parent is reminded that kids can get injured.

The study showed that parents on Medicaid or had financial problems were more likely to be abusive. Even the financial crisis still affecting us led to an increase in traumatic brain injuries on babies caused by the hands of their parents. The researchers also said that the abusive treatment of babies is often triggered by that child crying. 

What makes some parents lose control that they abuse their child? This is what we need to figure out -- and it should be everyone's problem. Because it could be our friends, our neighbors, or the family in our town that needs help. It could be the children our kids play with at the playground who are being abused. Who is usually a child's best advocate? The parent. But what if that parent is the one the child needs protection from? What if it's that parents that needs help to control their anger or learn to deal with the stresses that we often cannot escape?

This is where I feel like a peaceful parenting approach can help some families. It may take a lot of practice and patience and the dishes may never get done and the house may be a mess because there may be no time to take care of those things when working on having calm and collected ways of dealing with a child crying, but I'd rather have a happy and healthy family with a messy house than an abusive household that is really clean. I'm not saying that all parents need is to read a Dr. Sears book and all will be fine. But I think if we adhere to the practice of being more nurturing, sweeter and nicer, and more available to our kids, along with being more meditative and calm when dealing with problems that may arise, then it could help. If it could help just one family, one mom or one dad, to not be abusive, then it's worth it. Maybe a national campaign can start with us, looking at ourselves, making changes where needed, and being aware of those around us, offering help if we can.

Do you think a more natural or peaceful parenting approach would help save children from abuse?


Image via Wildcat Dunny/Flickr

natural parenting, safety


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Kritika Kritika

My friend is a hospital nurse in ATL and she gets a shaken baby at least once every's very stressful for her to deal with it constantly. It's crazy to think there are so many awful parents out there.

PonyC... PonyChaser

I think it's a nice idea, but I don't think it's realistic.

Frankly, I feel more stressed-out when my house is a mess. To me, it's a sign of chaos. And that doesn't mean that my house is a spotless Martha Stewart clone. I have plenty of clutter and dust. But when the dishes are piled in the sink, the laundry is undone, the cat box is smelling up the place, and the bathrooms are a mess, I am not going to be as calm.

Child abuse - true child abuse, and not a "parental slip" has roots in so many places, you can't just say, "learn to meditate" and everything will be fine.

Abuse is often passed through families. If a parent abuses, the child is more prone to abuse. Anger issues are contributing factors, as are things like drug and/or alcohol addiction.

So yes, I agree with you that a calmer approach may help some families. Those families (and it's a personal opinion) who would be guilty of the previously mentioned "parental slip" of overreacting (and yes, sometimes very badly), where something happening one time, scares the crap out of them, and they look for help. But I don't think it will help chronic abusers. Those people need some professional help.

Ladyw... Ladywithtwo

The BEST parenting advice I ever got was how to take a 'mommy time out'. I am a happy calm person but anyone can reach a breaking point. We should be more willing to admit that and find ways to chill out.

Melis... Melissa042807

One thing all the older and wiser mothers of my aquaintance all said to me as I prepared to have my first baby was "If the baby won't stop crying and you feel like you're gonna lose your mind, WALK AWAY." So I did. Walk away, take a few deep breaths, cry some of my own tears if I need to, then try again. Letting my baby lay in his crib and scream his head off for a few extra moments is a way better option than loosing control of myself. It happens to way too many parents, as this article says. And it's sad. A percentage of these people didn't start out as bad parents - they just let themselves get too close to the breaking point, and they snapped. It's still inexcusable. It shouldn't happen. But every parent should know their tipping point and walk away to clear their head before getting there. 

nonmember avatar Theresa

Good advice, though many child abusers aren't just abusive according to circumstance. Sometimes people have violent tendencies and anything sets them off. Maybe I was a paranoid mom, but I was always more frightened by the constant screaming of my babies than frustrated. My first thought was always that they were in pain if the screamed uncontrollably, so harming my kids never entered my mind.

comf comf

I have read that babies crying is unnatural, because babies are supposed to be close to mom, which equal comfort & food source. Ignoring a baby crying causes to high blood pressure, even in other children hearing the crying. It sets off an irrational thinking process because its so unnatural.

Nycti... Nyctimene

I agree that abuse tends to be deep rooted, but all the same I don't feel that the 'walk away' thing is getting out there. It's shocking how many parents I've talked to who don't seem to have ever heard of that 'philosophy' of parenting. And many of them really could've used it because they admit that they're frustrated to the point of not being able to really think critically anymore.

Why not a widespread 'walk away' campaign? What's the worst its going to do? Not work? Well, at least they tried and maybe a few hundred babies would be saved from becoming SBS babies.

deux_... deux_fleurs

I myself try to practice peaceful parenting, but we all have our breaking point. Frustration/anger is completely nomral to experience from time to time, but it is what you DO with those feelings that is key. My second child is a "high needs" baby, and few times I have had to set my AP stuff aside, put the baby in her crib to let her cry, and go outside for a couple of minutes to calm down. I agree with pps that this solution in this article is a little oversimplistic. I really love the idea of a "walk away/call someone" campaign though!

erina... erinanne86

I do like the idea of the walk away, mommy moment idea. Coping skills for moms and dads is a great method. I practice and support the use non-physical discipline. violence is NOT a way to teach a baby or a child.

regull09 regull09

I'm guilty of spanking my child. Though never more than one swat, only with my hand, and only on the butt. Different parents use different tactics, and some children do not respond to time outs. It's not that physical discipline is bad, it's that some parents take it too far. A swat on the butt, in my opinion, should be to get their attention, not to actually hurt them, and then once you have their attention you explain why they're in trouble. A parent that doesn't yell often can have the same effect with a quick, sharp, 'Hey!' Unfortunately, my husband speaks loudly very often so a yell doesn't work as well as it did when I was the primary parent. I do agree that a peaceful parenting tactic would yeild better results, but physical disciplinary tactics can do the same job if peace doesn't work. The key is to keep your anger under control. If you ever feel like you could hurt your child by spanking them, then you do need to step away for a few minutes to collect yourself. I do it often, especially after a long frustrating day at work, because I never want to hurt my boy and want to be in complete control of my actions.

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