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Crying Child and Possible Abuse

Topic Overview

Crying is a normal part of your child's life. Stay as calm as possible during crying episodes. There are many different ways to approach your child's crying, and over time you will understand your child's needs and know how to care for him or her.

A child's crying can be very upsetting, especially when you are trying to figure out what the cause is. If you do not identify a cause, such as an injury, for your child's crying, try comforting techniques. If your child continues to cry after you have tried home treatment, place him or her in a safe, quiet place and leave him or her alone for 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes children can relax and soothe themselves. Be sure to stay close by.

Do not get angry at your child for crying. Never shake or harm your child. Shaking a child in anger or playing rough, such as throwing him or her into the air, can cause an injury to the brain. Shaken baby syndrome needs to be reported to your doctor. If you find that you are losing patience or are afraid that you may hurt your child:

  • Place your child in a safe place while you go into another room, relax, and calm yourself.
  • Ask someone to help you. If you can't find someone to take over for you and you still feel out of control, call your doctor.

If your child has had an injury that you think may have been caused on purpose (abuse), seek help. You may feel uneasy talking to your doctor about the issue of abuse, but health care providers have a professional duty and legal obligation to evaluate the possibility of abuse. It is important to consider this possibility, especially if there were no witnesses to the injury. If you think your child has been abused, it is your responsibility to call your doctor or contact the National Child Abuse Hotline and Referral Service at 1-800-4-A-CHILD or 1-800-422-4453. You can also find information at http://www.childhelp.org.

Emotional (psychological) abuse can cause a child to cry. Emotional abuse is a repeated pattern of parent or caregiver behavior that conveys to a child that he or she is worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value to meet someone else's needs. Emotional abuse (maltreatment) includes intentional verbal or behavioral actions or lack of actions that interfere with a child's healthy development. Withholding emotional support, isolating a child, and terrorizing a child are forms of emotional maltreatment.

If you are concerned about your parenting abilities, contact people or organizations that can help you identify places to learn parenting skills, such as:

  • Your child's doctor.
  • Local hospital.
  • National parenting organizations, such as Prevent Child Abuse America. You can find more information at http://www.preventchildabuse.org.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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