Crying Child and Possible Abuse

Crying Child and Possible Abuse

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

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

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

ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine John Pope, MD - Pediatrics Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine David Messenger, MD

Current as ofJanuary 11, 2018

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