Does your child hit other children or you or other people? Have you found yourself trying endlessly to stop the hitting? Here are some tips that may help.
Frustration can lead to hitting
Is there anything that is frustrating your child? Does the hitting happen when your child is not getting her way? Try to identify the source of your child's frustration. There could be many sources, including:
- Is your child playing with others who do not give her a fair chance?
- Has your child not understand how to play fairly? Is he asking for more than a fair share?
- Is the child being instructed constantly what to do and what not to do? Does he feel like he has no freedom?
- Are the child's motor skills not developed enough for certain activities, thus causing frustration? For example, fitting together small parts in a toy requires fine motor skills, which take time to develop.
- Do you get angry with your child when she does not live up to your high expectations? Do you tell her that she is not "good enough"? Is she learning from you that "winning is the only thing"?
- Are your child's communication skills developed well enough so he can complain? When he complains, do you hear him out or do you say "Do not complain" and cut him off?
Try to observe your child for these signs of frustration. If you spot them, depending on the source, try to either remove the source of frustration or do not put the child in that situation.
Constant scolding or punishment will not work
When you see your child hitting others, do step in quickly. And sometimes, you may want to discipline the child to make them understand that hitting is not allowed. However, if you see this happening often, constantly scolding, punishing or disciplining the child may not work. If this happens continuously, it may merely increase the frustration levels of both you and your child, and make the problem harder to solve.
Teach your child to express his feelings
See what example you are setting when your child frustrates you. Do you raise your hand or spank your child? Do you physically threaten the child? Could your child be mimicking your behaviour? If you use words, then point out to your child how you deal with problems. Tell her that you talk about your differences with others or with your spouse. There are also books and some TV show episodes that illustrate this point to children. Whenever your child hits others because she felt frustrated, sit down and talk to her about how she could have expressed her feelings verbally rather than physically. Steadily, keep making this point, and you will see a positive effect.
When he or she chooses to express her feelings, do give them a good hearing and listen carefully. Have a conversation about their feelings and show that you care about resolving any issues the child may have.
Is your child seeking attention?
Is your child hitting others to seek attention? Are you spending enough time with your child and sharing their experiences? Are both you and your spouse working? Are you bringing a lot of work home? If any of these are true, try to find ways to resolve this:
- See if you can reserve an hour or two each day to spend with your child - maybe early in the morning or maybe you can put away your work in the evening and do it later at night
- Can you get the assistance of grandparents who can spend time with the child?
Often the lack of attention , results in the child trying to seek creative ways of getting it. Hitting is one of them, especially if you intervene immediately.
Television shows like Tom and Jerry which portray hitting each other as comical and harmless, may have given your child the same idea. Sit down and explain to them that these shows are imaginary and that in real life, such acts cause physical and emotional harm.
Awaken empathy in your child
Whenever an episode of hitting happens, ask your child how he would feel if he were hit. Ask him to think about the hurt he caused the other child. Ask him how he would feel if he has been hit. Also see - Building empathy in children.
When you see your child hitting someone else, do intervene. Step in, calm your child down. Then convince him to apologize (instead of forcing him) and ask him why he felt the need to hit. Sit down and spend some time talking with your child about what happened.
Aggressive behaviours like hitting can occur as mostly temporary phase of a young child's life and as the child matures, the hitting tends to disappear. But do not ignore the problem. With positive intervention from you, your child will eventually learn that it is not acceptable to resolve differences through hitting.