Physically Hurting Others

Hi Naomi, I love your book and have been using SALVE with great success.My only struggle is with my 6 and 9 year old sons physically hurting one another and or myself. I have tried seperating them and telling them that I cant allow them to physically hurt one another but they are to physically strong for me and often turn to hitting or kicking myself. If I am listening to one the other keeps teasing and razzing the one I am tring to ALVE and vice versa.What can I do to help prevent or deal with these situations? Many thanks


Dear Parent,

Children are our mirrors. If they fight, it tells that we fight in some way. We may get angry when our spouse it late or when the milk is spilt; we may act impatiently when our children don’t live up to our ideals or we might act irritated when they don’t listen, when they interrupt or refuse to go to sleep. We resist the way things are and the way someone else. This is the fighting the children observe and apply in their own relationships.

I am not suggesting that we demonstrate being a doormat. It is just not effective to go against anything in order to create change.

Here are a couple of ideas to get you started on a peaceful path with your sons:

1) Don’t intervene with most of their fighting. When you do, you are fighting with the way they are and adding another “fighter.” They know, “If we hit, the artillery (mom) will show up.” They are innocently cooperating with our strategies and enjoying creating “Fireworks.” 

2) Prevent fighting by making the conditions easier for peaceful living. Have fewer toys, provide two identical ones of each toy they both like, and protect each child’s privacy, specially the older boy. At times, a six-year-old can be a real pain for a nine-year-old. Protect your older son’s autonomy, privacy and property. 

3) Do not let your sons hit you, ever. If separating them leads to hitting you, don’t do it unless there is physical danger of injury. They hit you because you are ruining their fighting. Often, when I heard screams or upset from the play room, I would just pick my head in for a brief moment and say, “Anyone needing help?” The answer was most often from the youngest, “No Mom, we are having fun.” 

4) To bring forth a  peaceful resolution you need not do the SALVE with the children. SALVE is for you, not for them. Find what causes their strife so you can alleviate the cause. The more you care for each one’s autonomy, the less intense and frequent their fights will be. And, notice when you fight, so you learn to model peace. 

Do the S of SALVE before entering their space (unless there is real risk of injury) and find what drives you to intervene. After you release yourself from your own stressful thoughts (S), put Attention (A) on the boys in your mind and observe. Do they really need you? Listen (L) to what is going on for them: Most likely they will resolve their issue; their physicality is simply their way for now. When you listen carefully, you will know what to validate, “Would you like to keep your blocks where your brother won’t touch them?” “Do you need fairness in sharing?” “Would you like to play without your brother for a while?” 

5) Never take sides or have a talk with one boy and not the other. If you do, you are fighting, adding ammunition and they set each other up for “getting in trouble,” even when you do a gentle talk.

6) When you show that you care without intervening, they may talk to you. If one child starts telling you what happened, listen and validate the facts. Tell them that you will listen to each one fully and when he is done the other boy will talk. Do that back and forth listening to them as long as they need without giving advice, judging or suggesting solutions.

7) When fully heard without interruptions, they will be done after a while and may even laugh. The Empowering (E) of the SALVE formula is about you staying out of the way so their own inner wisdom can surface. When children tell their stories to completion, they either lose interest and move on, or, if the issue has not vanished, free of intense emotions, they become great problem solvers. 

There are situations when one child is suffering under the control of a sibling.

The solution to these situations is to create conditions that prevent such abuse.

An aggressive child has a valid reason for his actions and needs your loving help. If this is what you are talking about, I invite you to book a phone session with me so I can guide you in removing the source of the difficulty.

Warmly,  Naomi Alodrt


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