even a hint of anger from strangers talking in the next room causes a prolonged alert
response in 4 and 5-year-old abused children. The noise held their attention longer. So,
abused children are probably hyper-alert in school, easily distracted, anxious, and have
interpersonal problems. Many parents frequently try to hide their fights from their children
but the conflicts that do occur in front of the kids are more intense, more emotional, and
more destructive. Why? It seems because parents can mostly hide the minor conflicts but
the major fights get out of control and are obvious (Papp, Cummings, and Goeke-Morey,
Geffner, R., Igelman, R. S. and Zellner (2003) review the empirical
literature about the immediate and long-term effects of children witnessing
domestic violence. It is a 309 page book. The British, who seem a little ahead
of us, have studied what to do about the influence that viewing violence has
on childrens emotional, behavioral, and academic adjustment (South Wales
would expect that seeing your own parents fighting, calling each other bad
names, and so on would be a powerful and lasting experience for a child.
Psychologists have also studied the impact of violence on TV, in movies, and
in computer games on young children. Several studies have shown short-term
effects (both fear and aggression) of aggressive entertainment on young
children but the effects on older children are less clear. The evidence linking
viewing media violence with actual criminal behavior by the child is also weak
(Browne and Havilton-Giachritsis, 2005). My Conclusion: you should take
viewing violence or thinking about anger excessively in any form seriously.
Controlling yourself while punishing your child
Parenting is almost always a mixture of love and resentment for most
people. Surely most Moms and Dads are, at times, angry at their children and
obsessed with an irksome emotional mix of love and frustration (see Samalin,
1991). Most mothers and fathers have, in fact, at some time, become furious
at her/his child. There may well be an urge to physically hurt the child--to
spank, hit, or shake him/her. It is hard to know if your urge to hurt your child
is truly dangerous. However, if you sense you are getting close to
becoming violent, something must be done immediately. You must call your
spouse, a friend, relative, a person from church, a neighbor or someone--
anyone. If at all possible, have someone else care for the child for a while.
Also, make an appointment for psychological help and/or call the local Parents
Anonymous organization (see your phone book) or Childhelp USA's National
Child Abuse hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD) for local on-going sources of help.
Calling for help is hard to do. But don't run risks with your kids' physical and
emotional health (or with your legal future). A traumatic childhood may stay
with a child for a life-time. Professional help is usually needed (so add regular
therapy appointments to your schedule as well as attending, if possible, local
Parents Anonymous meetings). People who beat kids are under enormous
emotional pressure. They need relief. It is important to honestly determine
just how much risk you are to your kids and to lower that risk as soon as
possible. Often treatment needs to involve both parents and the child.
There are certain other warning signs you can use: the excessively
physical parent often has been abused or neglected themselves as children
(less true for woman than men). Be concerned if you were abused as a child.