I have read through this thread and struggled with hearing about *intentionally* hitting a child to alter his behavior, as punishment, as shock value (?). I agree that there seem to be a number of posts which agree that in order to stop an undesirable behavior in the moment, that hitting someone would be effective. This seems erroneous to me. And against the posting guidelines of this site, and especially the GD forum.
I actually understand quite well the emotional overload that a parent could feel with being physically impacted by their child. Below is a recent PM of mine about this issue. However, what I do know is that the same 'out of control' feeling that I have experienced is *exactly* what my child is experiencing. And I wouldn't want someone to hit me when I feel my most vulnerable and least emotionally stable. Especially if someone I loved, hit me in my moment of need for comfort and communication of loving support, hit me after threatening to do so.
I don't believe that I would or could feel the same level of trust and unconditional support that I had before hand; nor able to feel more emotionally abled to think with my head, rather than from the new confusion of fear.
|Between you and me and the lampost, it does get harder when they turn about age 2, 3, 4. (I don't yet know what is in store for me in his teens ) I knew I would never hit our son, but I tell you, I have emotionally (out of control angry) come this close to it. Wanting to just stop the behavior immediately. I have worked really, really hard to learn to temper that hot button.
Well, I have more than one hot button unfortunately. My main one is being held against my will. And intellectually, I know that he is just a small child, and my own at that. But there is something visceral that takes over my emotions when I feel trapped. Like when I am cutting chicken up and my hands are dirty and occupied and our son will come up and grab my legs. I can not move. I feel imprisoned. That strong of an emotion! I know it is all the childhood baggage, and it really wasn't much of an issue until he was older. But, there is something about when you feel that you *have to* to do something that needs to happen NOW!!; and the child refuses to participate, it is hard to get to that healthy emotional place of 'what does *HE* need?', from the deep emotion of "I NEED xyz!!!". Again, my childhood *need* (baggage) feels unheard and I had to learn to move past the emotion to some cognitive awareness that this isn't the past. It is now.
I have found that choosing to live without time constraints or expectations (as much as possible) helps more than anything else. And stepping back to B....R.....E....A....T...H....
Similarly, when there is some physical impact, that is totally developmentally appropriate: pinching, hitting, kicking, striking out in anger physically, and most recently 'I am going to hit you'. Wow. My self-protective fight or flight emotion is this close to the surface, and I am 43! No way at 21, 25, 30 years old, could I have had the self-awareness and self-control that this requires not to act on.
I am sure that oour son too will have 'things to heal from'. I become aware of more things that I could model more effectively, more healthfully everyday. We are all on a journey in progress. Interesting, the recipe of non-coercion parenting and coercive upbringing is the hardest road to choose, in many ways. Hardest from an 'expect myself to change and grow'; but not hardest from an 'expect others to change' perspective.
The same degree of certainty that you have that you would NOT TOLERATE being hit by anyone, not once, is the same visceral reaction that occurs from being hit by our son. The same, NO!. It is beyond the rational. It is scary to experience. I hope that your child never pushes your hottest buttons, but they do. Having the fortitude and certainty that you will not hit, no matter what, is not a one time decision. It is tested in the heat of the emotional overload. And it is hard. But, new communication tools and a new paradigm of focusing on *underlying needs* helps me to find the rational part of my being. Practicing this consideration and belief in their inherent innocence helps. But, you get a lot more practice starting at age 18-36 months.
We have a son who has sensory seeking behaviors, and has food intolerances to multiple ingredients which temporarilly (chemically/systemically) obstruct his ability to consider other people's needs and respect other's personal body space boundaries. Dairy cause him to become aggressive. The onset is about one hour after consumption, and lasts for 1-6 hours, depending on quantity consumed. Soy makes him hyper, wild and bouncing off the walls for hours. Same with artificial colors red and yellow. Wheat makes him restless and disturbs his sleep, such that we end up with night wakings, early wakings, difficulty settling down for the night and restless legs while sleeping which seem to be a factor in the wakings. Daytime consumption of wheat, in large portions causes increased vocalizations of loud sounds and disturbances to others in the home with limited ability of self-control. I list these all out specifically in order to share the dietary elements that could be physically altering a child's behaviors. We obviously attempt to avoid these food ingredients according to the Feingold Diet. We also attempt to avoid salicylate loading. Many foods are high in salicylates and when our son consumes large quantities of strawberries, peaches, or blueberries, or OJ, he again is more hyper and has less self-awareness and less self-control.
DS knows these food issues and voluntarily avoids them about 95% of the time. Other times, life is interesting. He is 4.5 y/o. And very strong. What we have found which helps, in addition to food awareness, is to proactively meet his sensory seeking needs. We have a mattress on the floor of his room and an old couch. He jumps and jumps and jumps on both, throughout the day when he has excess energy. We purchased a trampoline; and we initiate a lot of outdoor large motor movement activities, including kicking, throwing, digging and raking (in sand and dirt) and riding his bike for long periods of time and racing up and down the driveway. These activities are essential to his physical and emotional well being. And mine too. When he gets angry, he is a physical child. When he is sleeping, eating and playing, he is a physical child. Helping him to be aware of what his body needs and when he feels healthy and happy and when he doesn't is a major focus of my parenting and nurturing. We discuss 'listening to your body', and 'watching your body's cues' of clenched fists, raised voice, too much energy, bumping into things, getting into people's space, etc. and discuss how protein helps to moderate our blood sugar, how caffeine amps us up and how sugary foods only 'feel good' for a short while. (Oh, I forgot, we avoid high fructose corn syrup too for the same hyped up reasons.)
So, my point is that there are many more GD ways to address the underlying needs.
Additionally, we have used Rescue Remedy and Cherry Plum. Both are Bach flower remedies for helping with upsets or 'feeling out of control'. My main concern is that our son doesn't 'feel right' when he doesn't 'act right', as Dr. Sears says. So, my job is to help to find what is obstructing him from feeling his best, not add to his burdens with threats, fear and intimidation.
The tools of reflective listening which are discussed in How to Talk so Kids will Listen and How to Listen so Kids will Talk
helped me to learn more effective communication skills of validation and giving what is desired in fantasy, and seeking to understand the underlying needs, and always assuming *good* intent, even when actions or behaviors are out of control. These skills have helped me to parent my "inner child" who is reacting
to being hit too. I have learned why I feel so angry about what I experience as an assault, when my child is flailing for help. I also found the book "Raising Your Spirited Child" and "Kids, Parents and Power Struggles" to be quite informative and transformative to more cooperative communciations in our family.
I hope my post adds some new GD tools to your toolbox. When we default to a quick fix, we stop
seeking a real solution to the real problem. Hitting a child for being out of self-control, doesn't eliminate the underlying need. So, the need resurfaces, and resurfaces, and resurfaces, until a more effective solution is found. Hitting the child doesn't solve anything; but it creates many more problems of an adversarial relationship.
In the heat of the moment, I agree with what Maya44 said to do. And with whoever said that using peaceful methods of stepping away to protect yourself is more effective modelling of anger management than hitting would be.
PatBe the change you wish to see.~Buddha