In the quarterly journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, report shows that parents who physically abuse their children appear to have a physiological response that triggers more harsh parenting when they try parenting in warm, positive ways.
The researchers documented links between the nervous system's ability to calm heart rate through electrocardiogram (ECG), and the type of parenting mothers showed during a laboratory interaction with their preschool child. The findings hint that when physically abusive mothers experience being a nurturing parent, they find it to be hard work.
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A Neurobiological Trigger May Cause Abusive Parenting