By Cinzia Leone*
While violence within families in the parent-child relationship is a reality always existed, it is certain that this has recently changed its form. Corporal punishment, such as the use of the belt or stick, are no longer considered adequate tools to educate, but even today parents often resort and not always consciously, to forms of physical or psychological violence, because they are ways of relating socially tolerated .
All parents experience in the relationship with their children intense feelings, such as the loss of control in the face of provocation or stubborn behavior, a sense of powerlessness in the face all’ingestibilità of their child – especially in public – the fear as a reaction to behavior with whom the child is put in danger. In some stages of development of the children, the parents are in daily to manage the emotions that trigger these situations.
Unlike clichés, which give the father the greater tendency to use violent behavior for their children’s education, it is important to know that often the mother interacts with them through violent methods, more or less aware. Usually she is the person who, from birth, dedicating more time to the child, taking care of his care and education, often at the same time to work. Also in the family, usually the mother is the person subjected to greater stress for the child care and therefore the figure is more exposed to the risk of violent behavior turn against them.
The consequences of abuse on children, especially if repeated and prolonged, are well known in the literature. The first step to stop the violence is to learn to recognize – even in its less obvious – at different stages of child development.
With the birth of a child the parents (usually the mother in particular) are subjected to a physical work – especially for the interruption or sleep deprivation – and emotional stress related to concerns and fears regarding nutrition (for example, difficulties in breastfeeding or rejection of infant formula), growth (weight, length, head circumference) and, more generally, the health of a human being so small.
In this phase the maltreatment of infants, the theme of which unwillingly speaking, is primarily in response to fatigue, to the sense of impotence or inadequacy (for example in front of the prolonged crying) that favor nervousness and aggressiveness between the pair, but also in toward the child. Shout and shake are just a few examples of actions-violent reactions that may relate to the parent-child relationship babies.
With the start of weaning, should not be underestimated the frequency of violent actions by parents act (in this case generally especially by the mother) towards the child who does not cooperate or refuses to eat. Examples are: put in force the spoon in his mouth or tenergliela open to fill it with food, hit or scream because away repeatedly and abruptly the pot, because deliberately spilling water from glass, or because knocks objects. A move such enactments is the ancestral fear of not being able to feed their offspring. Often these reactions affect the rush to reach the goal of weaning according to fixed times, for reasons of organization of work and family commitments, not related to the needs of the child.
The growing child begins to express their will and thus its opposition, if you do not agree with what he is asked. Tensions described regarding mealtimes (“eat!” – “I will not eat!”) Begin to appear more often on other occasions, the same day and on many topics: objects with which to play, places to stay , hygiene, clothing, etc. It started the “phase of no” that usually has its peak between 2 and 3 years. The risks of using screams and other violent behavior to handle these situations increase.
Another theme around which sometimes parents activated forms of violence is the use of the potty, as that power is a situation which in fact can not be subject to their control, because it requires the expression of the will of the child. Force him to sit on the potty “in command” and for a long time, when the child is not ready, or manifest violent reactions which screams, threats, punishments, because the evacuation did not occur in the manner desired, are just some examples forms of violence are not always aware.
Especially during the early years of child development (but also after) are varied moments and the reasons why parents may be to act actions-violent reactions towards their children. Accept them as inevitable, or hold them functional in terms of education, represent ways to legitimize forms of abuse within the family.
If the first step to the interruption of violent behavior is their recognition, the second is to learn to experiment with new ways of relating to their children, according to age. To achieve these goals, are often useful advice, even short, with education professionals. Other situations instead, to be changed, requiring a path of parenting support specific, built according to relationship difficulties encountered. The duration of the intervention varies primarily as a function of the ability of parents to get involved actively.
The family can inform themselves, at public advice or privately, addressing the education professionals who, if they deem it necessary, and put them in touch with other professionals such as doctors and psychologists.
* Cinzia Leone is educator, expert in educational and training processes, Head of the Center pedagogical LiberaMente Genoa. Worked for many years, even at the institutional level, with children and their families. For information or to schedule an appointment, contact the Center LiberaMente the addresses found by clicking here or write to firstname.lastname@example.org…