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Beginnings Guides Blog

Home Visitors detect risks and prevent ACEs in young children

ACEs = Adverse Childhood Experiences that are linked to a laundry list of adult physical
and mental health conditions.

In addition to social policies that lead to poor living standards and inequality, cultural
norms that glorify violence including physical punishment, and the presence of a local
drug trade,  risk factors for maltreatment of children include individual parent/caregiver
factors and child factors.

Parent factors that increase the likelihood of child maltreatment:

·       Difficult bonding, this may result from a difficult pregnancy, birth complications or 
        disappointment with the baby
·       Lack of nurturing activity
·       Lack of awareness of child development, unreasonable expectations
        (She cries to make me mad)
·       Approval of physical punishment and belief in its effectiveness
·       Physical or mental health problems or that make parenting harder
·       Lack of self-control when upset
·       Misuse of drugs, alcohol, including during pregnancy
·       Social isolation
·       Depression, low self-esteem
·       Financial difficulties 

Child factors   A child is not responsible for the maltreatment s/he suffers. But it can be
harder to parent a child who:

Prevention   Little is known now about what protects families and children against new
instances of maltreatment. Most research has addressed resilience – it has asked, what
lessens the impact of ACEs? Home visitors routinely work to increase resilience by promoting
secure attachment and involving fathers in child rearing. Based on knowledge of early child
development, factors likely to be protective against ACEs are responsive parenting, strong
attachment, and positive non-physical discipline. Age-appropriate discipline can be especially
challenging since what is appropriate and effective changes rapidly as the child develops.

Age- appropriate discipline is addressed throughout the Beginnings Parents Guide (FAQ)

·      Discipline for a Crawler, page 40-41. This is a critical piece of parent education.
        The highest rate of maltreatment is  in children less than one year old.
·      Discipline for your 1-year-old, page106-108.  A one-year-old does not understand No.
·      Discipline for you 18-month-old page 122. When you praise, start with You. When you
        discipline, start with I
·      Discipline is teaching, page 142-143. New challenges as the “the terrible 2s” approach.
        Still to young for time-out.
·      Discipline for yourtoddler, page 162-163. Good discipline teaches a toddler to keep the
        rules out respect for himself and others.  Physical punishment teaches him obey out of fear.
·      Discipline for your 3-year old, page 183. How to discipline by time-out, page 184-185.

Favorite page re discipline:  186What do you want to teach? Discipline vs. Spanking
Most important words for a parent:I love you and I do not like what you just did

Reference/Resource:  
World Health Organization & International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (2006).
Preventing child maltreatment: a guide to taking action andgenerating evidence. 
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