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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Somehow, when my sweet little boy starts SCREAMING at the top of his lungs (causing ear and head pain) or kicks me, or slaps me HARD, I have a hard time controlling myself. I seem to get into a "self-defense" mode and getting him to stop hurting me comes ahead of remembering that I'm an adult and he's a child and I'm supposed to be teaching him.

Earlier this afternoon, he took over my computer when I was up doing dishes and not really "done" on here. I didn't make a big deal about it- DD had helped him (she's using the other computer) and I waited until he was finished with what he was doing. Anyway, we played in the bedroom for a little bit, then I came back into the living room (obviously he was done with his game since he'd been in the bedroom) and he started getting violent with me when I sat down.

First he started pushing the swivel chair, which is extremely uncomfortable while I'm on the computer. I told him to stop, he's hurting me, and we don't hurt people in this family. So then he started hitting me. Again, I told him to stop. He kept hitting me, harder and harder, and finally I lost it and picked him up, carried him to the bedroom with the intent to spank him, and instead screamed as loudly as I could in his ear.
:

I'm sitting here shaking from all this. I feel so horrible.

About a week ago, he was being very loud while I was switching the laundry, screaming at the top of his lungs repeatedly, even when DD2 told him that he was hurting her. So what did I do? I ended up hitting him to get him to stop screaming.
: DD2 had to calm him down, I aplogized profusely, explained that mommy made a mistake and hitting is never, ever OK, and discussed the whole "hurting people with your voice" thing at a completely separate time from talking about my hitting him.

Overall, people tell me how sweet and well behaved my kids are. But I know we've gotten into some horrible habits in the last few weeks. Sometimes DS is so obnoxious I don't know how to handle him! And I really don't react well when I'm being hurt, esp if one or more of my kids are also being hurt at the same time (such as with the screaming incident- it hurt DD2 more than it hurt me because I was in the other room when it was happening, and she had a headache for several hours afterwards.)

So what can I do? I want to emphasize non-violence in my home. I want to emphasize that hurting other people, and doing dangerous things (such as leaving toys on the floor to be tripped over or stepped on) isn't OK. But I certainly don't want to model violence when I'm trying to teach non-violence!
 

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This article was REALLY helpful for me to understand and deal with aggression. The strategy discussed has helped our not-terribly-frequent-but-was-starting- to-be-enough-to-worry-me-aggressive acts tremendously.

It seems like it's happening when he wants your attention. Keep in mind that as the adult, as the parent, YOU are responsible for keeping everyone safe. If that means having to get off the computer earlier than you wanted, or even taking a break from dinner-making for a short game of wrestle or chase, that's what you have to do. His need for attention isn't going to go away, he's just going to keep doing more things, more problematic things, until he gets his need met. That's the wonderful way kids were designed: to be persistent at getting what they need.

And this isn't meant to sound harsh at all: I am speaking to myself as much as anyone else! Like, I need to get off the computer right now!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
OK, but I had JUST been playing with him, and had he asked me nicely "mommy, please play with me" I would have gotten right off, or at least told him I'd play with him as soon as I finished what I was doing, and follow through.

His FIRST RESPONSE was to be aggresive towards me, leaving me no time to protect myself.

And that article only dealt with children's aggresion towards other children- get in there and stop Billy from hitting Susie, or stop Susie from biting Billy before somebody gets hurt. But the problem here is that I'm the target- how can I get in and comfort him when I'm being physically attacked? How can I be the one to stop him from hitting "the other child" when the "other child" is me?

I need something different for "in the moment" responses, to protect myself without hurting him.
 

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First, I wasn't sure from your signature. Is the child 5 and is he on the Feingold program? If so, do you think that the aggression is at all food related?

Have you tried keeping a record for a while and seeing if you can spot any pattern. Is it happening at certain times of day? Would more structure help him?

As far as the spanking, I will only say that I really urge you to make a decision not to do it. You are an adult and you can make a decision that you will not hit your child, no matter what. If it isn't something you can decide and follow through on I think it is a problem big enough that it is a sign there is a need for therapy or some work on your reactions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, this is the 5yo. I started the Feingold program several years ago to help
DD2, but all of us are on the program. DS and DD1 have only shown minor reactions to food additives, and I know that DS hasn't eaten anything innapropriate today as he was with me all day. So I don't think he's reacting to anything he ate.

So nobody has any clue what to do when my 5yo starts slapping me hard?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by happeeevraftr View Post
[It seems like it's happening when he wants your attention. Keep in mind that as the adult, as the parent, YOU are responsible for keeping everyone safe. If that means having to get off the computer earlier than you wanted, or even taking a break from dinner-making for a short game of wrestle or chase, that's what you have to do. His need for attention isn't going to go away, he's just going to keep doing more things, more problematic things, until he gets his need met. That's the wonderful way kids were designed: to be persistent at getting what they need.


Oh, I so needed to read that!
 

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Ruthla, here's my advice. This is from someone whose very large now 6 year old had tremendous problems with physical lashing out at 5.

First, it a dozen kinds of hard. Take a deep deep breath. You can do this.

Second, you must keep yourself safe. If you keep getting hurt, you aren't going to be able to respond with some kind of zen, angel voice that's going to bring him around. It makes him feel like something stuck to the bottom of his shoe when he hurts you. It makes you feel awful and like a bad parent on top of getting hurt.

Third, tell him many many times of day. "I am on your side. I want to get to a peaceful place where we both get what we need." and "I love you and I am going to keep my (our) bodies safe.

Fourth, get earplugs for everyone in the family. The kind you can hang on your neck are good because you can get them in fast when the painful noise starts.

Once you know that you and your kids are safe, solutions to his triggers will seem so much more obvious. And the triggers will become more plain.

But when you are getting hurt and feeling unable to defend yourself, you just can't get very far on it.

You can turn this around.
 

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My daughter sometimes hits us when she is upset, or kicks us when we are sitting beside her bed. The best response has been for us to physically move away and say in a calm voice, "It's not ok for you to hit/kick me. I will come back when you stop." I have had a few times when I have reacted badly because it hurts and I just lash back out of impulse, but mostly the above strategy has worked well. Sometimes now that she's older, I add in, "It's ok for you to be angry, but it's not ok for you to hit."

I don't just tell her to stop because when she is overwhelmed with difficult feelings, she can't really hear and process what I'm saying to her. Physically moving away makes much more of an impact, because what she wants is my attention (usually). It also allows me to calm down if I have become reactive, and it models the kind of assertive yet non-violent response that I would like her to be able to show toward other kids.

Best wishes -
 

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We've had difficulty here with one child who sometimes hits me. I've found that the best way to handle the hitting while it's happening is to move out of reach and/or block her attempts to hit me, and say once "I will not let you hit me, we can work this out when you are calm." Repeat (the moving away/blocking, not so much the words), as often as necessary until child is calm (and soon as she's ready, I will help her calm down-but she has to be calm enough to accept that). If needed, bring her to another room to keep others safe. I stay with her, but I don't expect my words to snap her out of it. She just can't hear me or learn or connect when she's in that state. She will calm down. I keep everyone safe until she is calm, and when she's calm we can talk about what happened, what she was feeling, other ways to handle her feelings and the situation without hitting. (eta that it did also help to pay close attention to when she was hitting, to get to know her triggers and the signs that hitting was likely to happen-this helped us address things proactively, so that we could prevent hitting rather than addressing it after it happened).

It helps to remember that she is a child with feelings that are just too big for her at that moment, that she is as miserable as I am in that moment, and that she really doesn't feel good about hitting the people she loves. That helps me remain calm, as does taking deep breaths, silently repeating some helpful phrase/reminder-staying calm is the key. And that's hard, because being hit triggers a lot of feelings of needing to protect myself and of being violated. Some of those feelings are a natural reaction to being hit, but the intensity of those feelings (the intensity that leads to my urge to yell or hit my child) has more to do with my past rather than with the child right in front of me. It helps a lot to remind myself that I'm dealing with a child who needs guidance, not an abuser against whom I have to defend myself, and that she will learn a lot about how to handle her strong feelings from how I handle mine (and from how I respond to her strong feelings). So staying calm protects her, helps her learn a lot more, and helps her feel safer.

As for screaming, I tell them once that it is too loud and I expect them to use a soft voice. After that, I'll walk away or put in earplugs or whatever. Screaming is one of those things-it's their body, I can't control them and make them stop, and the bigger an issue I make of it the more screaming I'll get. Not worth the power struggle. And yes, even if the other kids are affected. I tell the other kids that if it's too loud, and the other person won't stop when asked, they can walk away. The only person's behavior we can control is our own.
 
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