Child maltreatment

Maltreating parental behaviors are probably some of the most frightening behaviors a child may be exposed to, and serious dysfunctions in the parent-child relationship have been observed in maltreating families. Notably, disciplinary practices of maltreating parents have been described as highly inadequate, with parents being more likely to inconsistently use threat, punishment, coercion, and power assertion to gain child compliance. In particular, abusive parents have shown more aversive, intrusive, and controlling behavior toward their child, in contrast to neglecting parents who seem to display greater inconsistencies in response to their child behavior and a lack of ability in establishing age-appropriate limits. Not only are maltreating parents insensitive, and do not regulate and buffer their child’s experience of distress, but they also activate their child’s fear and attachment systems at the same time. The resulting experience of fright without solution is characteristic of maltreated children, and is probably the most salient process through which maltreated children develop attachment disorganization.


Stoltenborgh, VanIJzendoorn, Euser, Bakermans-Kranenburg 2011 Child Maltreatment Meta-analysis, pdf file
Cyr, Euser, Bakermans-Kraneburg, VanIJzendoorn 2010 Attachment security and disorganization in maltreating and high-risk families: Meta-analysis, pdf file
Out et al. 2010 Intended sensitive and harsh caregiving responses to infant crying, pdf file