I see what you're saying, Sarah. I agree that there are many reasons why children hit, but I really think that with the exception of those times when a child is experimenting to see what happens (which is not unheard of) that a child who is hitting is experiencing an urge that is natural and the result of (yep, I'm gonna say it) an unmet need (and quite likely a lack of impulse control or other skill).
|AND, I believe that some children resort to hitting more frequently because it works for them, because it gets their needs met, so to speak.
Yes. So if the child's needs are met in another way, the child won't have to resort to hitting.
|If parents are sending an unclear message about hitting, like the pp's friend who ignores her child's violence, the child may rely on it more as a first resort. Because it works, especially with younger children.
Yes, and no. Yes an ambiguous response doesn't help a child learn to refrain from hitting. But really, if the child is using hitting as a way to get their needs met then is the answer to take a stronger stand against hitting, or to ensure that the child's needs are met? IME, the hitting doesn't stop until the need is met. And of course, skills have to be learned as well.
I agree that it is probably true that part of the reason kids don't really enjoy hitting is that it's socially unacceptable. I also think a big part of the reason kids don't like to hit is that being social creatures, they like to connect with others-and hitting promotes disconnections, not connection.
I can remember "liking" hitting my siblings, because it was a release-my needs weren't being met, I wasn't being listened to, and because it is a human urge I lashed out. And there was, honestly, some satisfaction in that-but not much, because it never really solved any problem and because I did love my sister it did feel bad also. I'm inclined to think that if we had learned better problem-solving and communication skills, with less focus on "hitting is wrong" and more focus on empathy and listening and meeting needs, we would have relied more on those skills/strategies and less on hitting.
|And I think that needs arise in children that we cannot meet, or sometimes even help them meet.
I think in this case it's not our strong declaration that hitting is wrong that is going to best protect anyone, it's the development of empathy and the information we as parents give our kids and the communication, problem-solving, and coping skills we help kids learn that are the best protection against violence.
And I'm thinking that I guess I don't understand exactly what's meant here by parents not taking a strong stand against hitting (except for the mentions of parents not responding or responding unclearly). Is it a stronger stance to say "never hit, hitting is wrong" than to say "he didn't like being hit, it hurt his body, let me help you solve this without hitting"? I think that in my every day interactions, when I focus on how that other person felt and focus on teaching my child alternative ways of handling a situation I am
taking a pretty strong stand against using violence (even if I don't say "hitting is wrong"), and am pretty strongly promoting solving things in a more peaceful way-in no small part by dealing with my child peacefully myself. KWIM? I'm not saying my way (er, the way I aspire to) is better, just that maybe don't be so quick to write it off as not strongly showing a child that violence isn't the way.
Time to go.