I keep reading over and over (in new threads and old) that hitting and name calling are NOT ACCEPTED in their homes. I get it, but what do you do when a child does hit or says hurtful things? We've entered a really unsafe, hurtful territory that is causing a lot of stress in our home. Our five year old always, without fail, hits her younger brother. It can happen over a toy/book/, or if brother accidentally bumps and hurts her she always, always goes after him and hits. And these are not soft wimpy hits..they seriously hurt, I've taken a few myself when I've seen it about to happen and I dive into the room to prevent him from getting hurt.
We've spoken with her dozens of times about this being a safe place for everybody (she says "I know. That's what my pre-school teachers said too."), that hitting is not okay, that we love one another and name calling and hurtful words are not okay, but it makes absolutely no difference and her behavior continues again and again.
So my question is, what do YOU do in your homes if a child is a hitter (or a hurter..)??? And it's worth saying that her hitting is never inflicted upon other children, just her little bro.
At home amongst the redwoods with my husband and my son, born 7/5/11 Instant CNM, just add !
My dd went through a phase of hitting us when she was frustrated. I did a lot of reading up about it. Here's one of the articles I found helpful - I could dig out more when I have time:
Your kid is about the same age as mine so she probably understands intellectually that hitting is wrong but just can't control herself in the moment - not at all unusual at that age. During the worst episodes I held my daughter on my knee until she calmed down, so that she couldn't hurt anyone (including me). Later, when she was calm, we'd talk about what made her act that way and how things could be better the next time round. I tried to avoid shaming her; I'd talk about how everyone makes mistakes.
It's been a few months now since she's hit anyone and I've noticed that when she sees other children lashing out she tends to be quite thoughtful in her reaction - both in the sense of trying to protect the victim, and of trying to understand what's causing the violence without labelling the perpetrator negatively. One of the reasons that some people (me included) don't like time-outs is that I don't think they provide the tools for building that type of compassion. Instead they leave the child alone to deal with difficult, intense emotions.
First, it has been a long, long road. I still deal with it occasionally, and my girls are nearly 7 and 8.5. Nothing like younger, only when they get really really mad. Especially dd1 has had the longest road and she doesn't hurt her sister, but she gets scolded because she knows when she gets angry it needs to be hands-off.
When they were younger, they would get separated. Sometimes I did the comfort-the-victim thing which can work sometimes. If the child's main goal is to get attention from parents, this method does work. It did not work 100% with my oldest. We are not a punishment-free house. We don't spank or use other physical punishments, or standard time-outs, but we did order the girls into different rooms, sometimes my oldest was ordered to stay in my sight. Sometimes, when she was in a rage and dh was home, we did a together-timeout in the bedroom until she calmed down.
Know that when she was 2.5 to around 4.5yo, the house was a total wreck because I literally had to play bodyguard almost the entire day.
The fact is, she didn't "love" her sister. She could really care less whether she was hurt, and sometimes even the satisfaction of getting in a good swipe was worth what came after. Hard to motivate a kid with empathy when it is not there. We did have a huge improvement when we eliminated a major allergen that was causing the intense moods, but it never totally went away.
Also, it gets to be something of a habit. Very difficult.
What I mean by saying "I will not allow you to..." means that she will get scolded or punished every time, and I know she never enjoyed that. Just today I had to deal with it in fact. DD2 has decided she no longer wants to be the "nice one", and she has been true to her word. After years of putting up with her sister's domination, she doesn't submit. She was crying "stop" and "no" when dd1 insisted quite angrily that her game be pushed aside. She would not stop, and she got a smack for it. Well.... one of our "rules" is to respect it when people say "no". If someone is screaming "no", then you've gone too far. Frankly, she "deserved" a smack for not heeding. And even though she is far better at 8.5, she is reaping the consequences of more than 6 years of poor behavior, and dd2 is flinging it back at her. I feel bad at the same time I feel like dd2 is getting some kind of warped justice. Not entirely fair because dd1 is really growing up now, but she is getting "punished" for behavior habits from when she was 3! But I am really glad that dd2 stood up for herself finally.
But I did scold dd2 for the smack. I scolded dd1 as well. They hate the scolding. If they hit over a video fight, then no video, etc. It is not enough to put a full stop to their behavior, but it's slowly evolving. DD1 has been on a moodiness binge and "throwing her grumps around", and she has been pulled off the rice that she enjoys but I know she has a mild allergy to ( I let her have it in limited quantities because she is allergic to so much else, but I'm afraid we got a bit lax this last week, and it shows!)
Anyway, my post is all-over and a bit vague. "Scold" doesn't really clarify much, either, and it's hard to explain. I wish I had a magical answer for you, but I know there are no quick fixes. You are not going to change your daughter overnight.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
The best way we have handled this issue may seem extreme but if you can't treat something or someone nice you can't play with them. Our youngest went through a spell of constant hitting and we made it clear she was not allowed to play with her older sister until she could be kind. We have to remind her periodically but she's a lot better now. Not getting to play with someone is no fun. But it's just like with friends, I wouldn't let my kid play with a friend who is constantly hitting them or calling them names. Siblings should not have to put up with it either.
That was a really good way to get my girls to play nicely together--regardless whether it was hitting, name calling or just general abuse. I would inevitably be too busy or distracted to enforce the "no playing together" and they would sneak together and play well for hours. But, like anything, I couldn't rely on it. I had a hard time keeping them separated. In fact dd2 drove me nuts by crying if she couldn't play with her sister, even if she was be abused by her. Thankfully that stage is over.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
I like to ask my kid "Do mommy and daddy hit you when you do something we don't like?". "Do we call you stupid?" "How would that make you feel if we did those things?" "ok, so then do you see why we don't hit and call people names?" But he doesn't hit his sister or name call on a regular basis, so just getting him to think about it is enough. My nephews were just here visiting and they hit and call each other names constantly. My son picked up on it , and for a few days after they left he was calling names and hit his sister once. I think it's over now though, just the talking worked.
I have two kids with ADHD - so some serious hitting (and worse) is happening here.
This is what I do (we are doing "democratic parenting" more or less - my goal is no punishments - this as a disclaimer ;)
First, I do try to have an eye on the kids in terms of watching how they are - balanced or not so much. If they are not balanced anymore for whatever reason, they need close observation, and need to stay close to me, and doing calm activities like drawing, reading or audiobooks.
DS is the one who gets physical, most of the times, so if he looses it I get him to calm down (if tired, and that is mostly the case) by lying down in his bed and listening to an audiobook or meditative music. So, this is meant to be as a type of time-in, I try to stay with him as long as he is upset.
If he cannot stop being aggressive with his siblings, he needs to stay with me. That means he can either work with me (mostly in the kitchen) or he has to sit down on his chair doing whatever he wants while sitting. No getting up allowed.
Sometimes deep pressure help.
I don't know your kids, obviously, but in our house getting physical is mostly due to being overwhelmed. Tired, exhausted, sad, hypoglycaemic. Stuff like that. I had a couple of situations were I got really mad at him for hurting someone and being difficult, and as soon as I made him lie down he would fall asleep in about 90 secs. And than I really felt bad for not meeting his needs.
How old is your child?
Trin with DH , DD(7) and DS(5) , DD(2) , , (due 5/14)
I am not regularly online at the moment due to the above ...
Katie - Married to Mike 06/02/01, Mom to Sydney Anne born 11/21/09 and Alice Maeryn & Oliver Thomas born 04/24/13
Sometimes the hitter also needs help figuring out what to do with their frustration/anger instead of hitting. Using their words can help "I don't like that!" or giving them something safe they can hit like a pillow or having them choose to take a break before they get there "I'm really frustrated, so I'm taking a break to read/play in my room." are all things I can think of. I think all the other advice is great as well, but I hadn't seen anyone mention that yet and I know that using her words and hitting something safe have both helped DD1 a lot and I think the last one will help her as she gets older (she's 3.5 now, so that one is a little beyond her ATM).
This is pretty much what I was going to say. While I haven't parented a hitter, in these types of highly emotional situations, I think the key is giving them the tools to handle their emotions, and thereby their behavior. Someone mentioned Aha Parenting upthread - I highly, HIGHLY recommend Laura Markham's book, Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids. I have read a LOT of books on gentle/positive discipline, and this one is like all the best parts of all the books I've read in one bound copy.
The first thing is to manage your own emotions, figure out how to keep yourself grounded so that you are the calm in her storm, and so that you are responding rather than reacting. Part two would be to make sure you're doing everything you can to strengthen your bond with her, because kids who feel fiercely bonded to their parents WANT to behave well. Part three is coaching her through the emotions she's feeling, conveying empathy, and letting her know that ALL emotions are acceptable, but certain behaviors are not.
But from what you've written, she knows she shouldn't do it, but she can't help it. That seems like an impulse control issue, or it might be an issue of not knowing what else to do to release her anger, or probably a combination. I think 5 is probably old enough to have a problem solving conversation together - "You get so angry sometimes that you can't keep yourself from hitting. Getting angry is okay, but hitting is not. Let's think of some things you can do instead of hitting when you get angry."
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