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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I have a 3.5 year old DD. She has been in a hitting/kicking/hurting mode now for many, many months - hurting DH, myself, baby sister, Grandma, and Nanny.<br><br>
We have tried all the "avoidance" techniques we can - making sure her basic needs are met - food, sleep, love, attention, that her routines are running well, that she is busy and active, getting exercise, etc. So PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don't ask me about all that, thanks! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> It's been addressed!<br><br>
We have tried the basic GD response to hitting/kicking/hurting - we either leave the room, or ask her to leave the room. In short, she loses her playmates when she hurts.<br><br>
This has been working for a while, but is not working anymore. She just doesn't care about being alone. She would rather hurt us. Also, this technique is not very effective when we are away from the house.<br><br>
So... we are brain-storming. We thought about the idea of her losing some of her toys when she hurts, even if it means that eventually all her toys will be gone and she will have nothing to play with for a while.<br><br>
I know, I know - it's not a logical or natural consequence.<br><br>
But it's all we can come up with right now.<br><br>
What do you all think of this idea? Do you have other suggestions for how to respond AFTER the hurting happens?<br><br>
Again, I don't want/need avoidance techniques - please don't bother suggesting them. I understand all that.<br><br>
I need ideas of how to handle our DD <b>AFTER</b> she hurts someone.
 

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There is a snag with only addressing what to do "after" the behavior happens....and you've already seen it. Any technique (like what you've done by leaving the room) might "work" for awhile. Usually these techniques change behavior in the short term but it doesn't last. Largely because they don't really teach kids anything. Taking toys away might work for awhile, but it doesn't get to the root of the problem, why is she hitting. So although you think you have addressed all your dd's needs I think something may still be missing. Have you asked her why she hits? Maybe keep a record of the circumstances when she hits. Is there some pattern?<br>
We address hitting like any other thing. When things get out of control we accompany dd to a "feel better" spot where we can cuddle and calm down and then talk about what happened. Rather then pulling away, we get closer and try to concentrate on the relationship and what dd is feeling. The behavior is just a symptom of something. By getting dd feeling better we can concentrate on teaching her to deal with her feelings that lead to things like hitting or yelling etc.
 

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I think that if removing her/removing yourselves after she hit stopped working after a while, so will removing her toys.<br><br>
Its hard to say for sure based on the above information, but it kind of sounds like this has become a power struggle for her. "You can do whatever you want to me, I'm NOT going to stop!"<br><br>
This probably goes against everything you are feeling about her behavior, but I would suggest protecting the little one and otherwise ignoring the aggression. Make it a non-issue. She hits, nothing happens. Boring.<br><br>
Something is feeding the behavior of hitting. You don't want to talk about antecedents or consider them further, so that leaves consequences. Eliminate all the consequences and give the behavior no attention at all.<br><br>
I realize even if you decide to try this, its going to be hard to get all other adults committed as well. And furthermore the behavior will get worse before it gets better.<br><br>
I would urge you to not stop looking for unmet needs or conditions which might be contributing, though, even though it sounds like you're frustrated and done with thinking further about meeting her needs. Dealing with a behavior by ONLY looking for an effective punisher is really only dealing with about 10% of the issue. Finding an effective punisher which stops the behavior might make the other adults feel better, like they are "doing" something successfully, but the costs to the child, sometimes invisible, can be painful in the long run.
 

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I don't object to consequences in theory . . . . I think in some situations they are very necessary. My problem with your proposed consequence of "taking away a toy" or something - is that it is not "related" to the "hitting" or "hurting" - so on that basis I just don't think it will be very effective for you in the long run.<br><br>
I like the - stop, take DDs hand and say "DD - Hands are for Helping, not hitting". Look at victim. You hurt victim. "Victim - are you OK?" "DD -Please ask Victim if she is OK?". You may have to do this 1000 times - this is definitely a "long term" approach.<br><br>
Also - I think if DD hits playmates - the consequence of having to "leave" the playdate is appropriate for a repeated offense. "OK DD. I see that you having difficulty with "helping hands" today. We can't play with our friends without "helping hands" - so we will need to leave now".<br><br>
Have you figured out "why" she is doing this? GD wise - we consider that every misbehaving child is child who is discouraged? Such discouraged childrend are misbehaving because they believe that behavior is necessary for them to "belong". What are your ideas about why DD may be discouraged?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>TripMom</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Have you figured out "why" she is doing this? GD wise - we consider that every misbehaving child is child who is discouraged? Such discouraged childrend are misbehaving because they believe that behavior is necessary for them to "belong". What are your ideas about why DD may be discouraged?</div>
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Uhhh...does EVERY GD parent believe the "discouraged" thing? I've never heard of that before, even here on Mothering. Sounds odd. Maybe you could explain the reasoning behind that theory so I can see where you are coming from.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamasaurus</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Uhhh...does EVERY GD parent believe the "discouraged" thing? I've never heard of that before, even here on Mothering. Sounds odd. Maybe you could explain the reasoning behind that theory so I can see where you are coming from.</div>
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For a lot of things I do, but sometimes, it just is what it is. So no, not every GD parent believes there is always a deep reason behind behaviors. BUT, I think GD parents are more open to there being reasons behind behaviors as opposed to kids being "bad". Does that make sense?<br><br>
As far as your OP, this may not be of much help, but...I can only think of that I would do - continue to just very blandly and calmly (but VERY seriously) say, "Hitting is NOT OK with this family. We will not hit you, and you should not hit [insert victim name]. [victim] will leave to keep themselves safe if you can't stopping hitting." *Maybe* part of the reason she's doing it is *because* it's getting a bigger reaction. If you take your responses down to a bare minimum, no emotion, grave, matter-of-fact and one-strike-you're-out type of response, maybe that might help? You'll have to have everyone on board that there are NO chances or redos, that the first time it happens, the person (or you and DD) have to leave. It will probably be exhausting and inconvenient for a while, but I have to think once it's lost its shine, she'll stop. Maybe talk to her about it during a calm time when it's not an issue? Talk about people not feeling safe when they get hit, ask her if she would feel safe around a person who hit her, if she would want to be around a person who repeatedly hurt her? Maybe you've already done this....<br><br>
As far as how to handle things after she has hit someone, I wouldn't change much, just make sure you have your standard, matter of fact response at the ready, the victim is removed or she is, and then I'd just go about your day regularly, perhaps a bit less cheery and enthusiastically for a brief time...but I wouldn't make her feel bad about it for any significant amount of time because again, that's bringing more attention to it, and you're wanting to take the power away from "it".<br><br>
If there's *ANY* way that an adult victim can stop her (catch her hand of foot, whatever) before she makes contact with them, and say, "Hitting is not OK. I will not let you hit me." and walk away, that would probably help, too. I did that when DS went through a brief hitting phase (albeit much younger in age), and it seemed to help...I didn't walk away with him that young unless he kept doing it, but I think at her age walking away from her (not necessarily out of the room, just out of her reach) the first time, or if you can intercept, might be a good thing to do. I see a big difference between "defending" yourself by stopping someone from hitting you and hitting them back - BIG difference. One is defensive (though it might have to be pretty firm if she's strong), the other is offensive and hypocritical (I KNOW you are not entertaining hitting her back, nor would anyone here, I'm just making a point that I think sometiems gentle parents "worry" about defending themselves if it has to be firm and a little strong. I would defend myself against anyone who was trying to hit me, and adjust my force to match their own.)<br><br>
I agree with verbal aggressiveness, ignoring is they way to go, but ignoring physical aggressiveness just doesn't sit well with me, for me it's almost like showing her that it's OKfor someone to be aggressive with her and she should just try to "ignore" it, which I defintiely do not want my child to learn. Physical safety is a big priority in our family.<br><br>
I just don't think she's old enough to grasp the long term connection between removal of toys and her hitting, as well as the fact that they aren't really related to each other and would probably lead to her just getting madder.
 

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I think that taking away her toys is just not helpful and is just punitive.<br><br>
I too would try a minimal response.<br><br>
I would immediately stop what I was doing, hold her hands gently, but firmly, look her directly in the eye and say in a serious but quiet voice "You may not hit me [or grandma or whomever]. "<br><br>
Then I would drop it.<br><br>
Except for removing the baby I would not even exit.<br><br>
I would also talk about the behavior later in the day. "This morning you hit me. Do you know why you hit." If she wants to talk about something great, if she says she did not know you can say. "It is not OK to hit other people. I expect you not to hit. If you are upset you need to use words"<br><br>
I would wait and see if this helps. At least for several weeks. If it does not and if the hitting is happening alot (like several times a day, every day), I do think you need to get to the root of it. This is not behavior most children engage in and you may need some real brainstorming to figure out where it is comming from.
 

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This is probably too simplistic, but did you ever tell her "I don't like it when you hit me".<br><br>
When my grandson started kicking me, I always said, "I don't like it when you kick me". At first he laughed and soon he started saying "Well I don't like it when you ....". So then we went from there.<br><br>
Kicking was his way of expressing dissatisfaction and it was the way for him to handle it. So I made suggestions how to handle it differently. And soon he did.<br><br>
The whole family used that method to stir his behavior away from kicking. He used to kick anyone who came near him for a while. But after everyone kept saying they don't like it, he stopped.<br><br>
We did NOT use a forceful, mean, or sad voice, it was stated in a matter of fact manner.<br><br>
Hope this helps.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamasaurus</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Uhhh...does EVERY GD parent believe the "discouraged" thing? I've never heard of that before, even here on Mothering. Sounds odd. Maybe you could explain the reasoning behind that theory so I can see where you are coming from.</div>
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Good point. The spectrum of what is considered "GD" here flows from non-coercion to positive discipline -- very very different approaches (topic for another thread)-- so let me qualify.<br><br>
And there seem to be a fair number of Child Behaviour experts around here - so at the risk of getting corrected left and right . . . . . here is what I recall from my read of Positive Discipline, by Jane Nelson<br><br>
- the thought is that every misbehaving child is a discouraged child. Misbehaviour comes from the child's feeling that they somehow don't "belong". The misbehavior itself is the child's mistaken belief that by doing "X" - they will then be accepted or have their rightful place in the family - it will make them important. For example, a child who is attention seeking feels that they are not important unless they have all of moms attention always. In these circs, PD instructs that the parents need to address the underlying misbelief - i.e. find a way to help the child understand that don't need to have moms attention all the time to be important,etc.<br><br>
OK - so that's me, the novice, on my first read of that book -- I'm sure others can weigh in here and correct, clarify, etc.
 

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I agree with the suggestion of telling her "I don't like it when you hit me". I also have found it helpful to say to my kids (I have one child who used to hit a lot) "I feel upset/angry/worried when I see my kids hitting each other, because I need everyone in our family to be safe. Please touch gently, use your words to work it out. I can help if you need me to" which is often followed by "let's work this out" or "let's calm down so we can work this out" or "tell me how you're feeling, I know when you feel good you don't hit."<br><br>
I would encourage you to not give up on looking for the reason this is happening. Whether the reason is simple or deep, kids who feel good don't hit. (Okay, once in awhile I see a toddler hit just to see what happens or they're not even aware that they're hurting someone, in their mind they're just touching.) Children hit for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it's bottled up bad feelings, sometimes it's a momentary anger, sometimes a food intolerance is lurking unnoticed and brings on aggressive behavior, sometimes they just haven't learned the skills they need to handle normal conflict in another way. But whatever it is, I have learned that it's not the response that comes after the hitting, alone, that changes things (though it is an important communication). The reasons for the hitting, however simple or however deep, need to be addressed. Sometimes they aren't so easy to see or to fix. Sometimes what we think our kids need and feel isn't really all that accurate.<br><br>
One other suggestion I have, that has worked well for my family, is to get the kids involved in solving the problem. Sibling fighting has been an issue here, for example, and we had a family meeting to work on it (because it has become too loud and irritating and unpleasant). We now have a secret word that we use to bring an immediate halt to anything dangerous or hurtful (yelling included), so that anyone involved can become aware that it's happening and find another way to deal with it. We have a secret hand signal too, in case anyone forgets the secret word.
 

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Our ds hits for two reasons: when he's upset and when he's playing. He hits me mainly when he's upset. I tell him, "no hitting," and "it's OK to be angry with mommy, but it's not OK to hit." Some here may disagree with me on this, but I also often tell him, "if you need to hit something, hit a pillow (or stuffed animal, or couch cushion), but we don't hit people." I believe that some children need a way to physically release their aggression.<br><br>
With dh and other kids, ds usually hits because he's roughhousing and he thinks it's funny. This is an easier situation. We say "we don't hit, we're gentle."
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>maya44</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I would wait and see if this helps. At least for several weeks. If it does not and if the hitting is happening alot (like several times a day, every day), I do think you need to get to the root of it. This is not behavior most children engage in and you may need some real brainstorming to figure out where it is comming from.</div>
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Does anyone else agree that this is not behavior that *most* children engage in?<br><br>
My DD hits or hurts someone in our house at least 2-3 times a day. Sometimes it's not very hard, but she still tosses even a small hit or kick at someone a couple times a day.<br><br>
I just can't believe my DD is weird or something by doing this. She is a pretty normal kid. We don't hit her or yell, scream, throw stuff - DH and I and Nanny are pretty mellow and relaxed. DD is growing up in a loving home. She generally eats well, sleeps well, has a good routine for the day, etc. There are always little "bumps" that change things - maybe she is sick, maybe not sleeping well for a night or two, etc.<br><br>
But I'm wondering if maybe we just aren't making our boundaries clear regarding hitting/hurting. It's a little more complicated having a Nanny - because not only do DH and I need to be consistent with our discipline, we need to coordinate with our Nanny. That's three of us needing to be on the same page. We all do things a little differently - generally the same, but over the past couple of days we have been talking about coming up with a specific reaction to the hitting/hurting that we ALL do consistently - so DD will know what to expect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ok, I just got my copy of Kids Are Worth It out. I have taken what she said about hitting, and I think it covers about everything you all have suggested as well - in general, I mean.<br><br>
So here is the plan:<br><br>
When Molly Hurts Someone<br><br>
•Respond quickly.<br>
o“You are angry. It’s okay to be angry. It’s not okay to hit. You need time to calm down. You can calm down in your room, on the couch, or on my lap. Take your pick.”<br>
oIf she says she isn’t going to choose any of the options and wants to stay where she is, say, “That’s a good place to calm down, too.”<br>
oShe needs to calm down.<br>
•Restitution – she needs to fix what she did.<br>
oAn apology is requested, but not demanded.<br>
oPerhaps a hug or kiss or attending to the hurt part of the person.<br>
•Resolution – teach her how to keep from doing it again.<br>
oShe can’t just say, “I won’t hit again.” She needs to know what she will do/say differently when the situation happens again.<br>
oTeach her the consequences of her action<br>
The impact it has on the person (it hurts to be hit)<br>
The impact it has on her relationship with the person (no one likes to be around people who hurt them; the person might want to hit her back; the person might become afraid of her; Sara may not want to share her toys ever with her).<br>
•Reconciliation – heal the relationship with the person she harmed<br>
oWhat can she do to help the person have a better day?<br>
oGive her the opportunity to do something she knows makes the person happy.<br>
oHelp her find the “goodness” in herself again.<br><br>
So, I'll talk to DH and Nanny about this tomorrow and see if we can all agree.<br><br>
To those of you concerned that I'm not addressing issues that cause hitting - we are addressing those things, too. But I just needed a specific thread on what to do after the hitting. There are two parts to this - what is causing the hitting, and what to do after it happens. It just so happens in this thread I'm addressing the second part. But I am not going to forget the first part, don't worry! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Another thing you need to do is get her hearing and eyes tested. Hearing in a boothe by someone that specilizes in children.<br><br>
Look into reason why she is hitting. Does she not have the vocabulary to say what she wants? Watch for hitting/bitting/et signs she if you can label her feelings. Does she have a hidden source of pain? Is there a pattern time of day she is more likely than others to hit? CAn you advoid the trigger patterns. Could she have a food sensitivity that is triggering the undesireable behavior? My dd hearing loss cause behavior issues. My son's chronic constipation caused him to whine. My dd GERD causes her to be difficult.<br><br>
I think it can be normal behavior for some kids.
 

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I think hitting is within the realm of normal for your dd's age. What I have noticed with many children is that they seem to escelate the behavior when a punitive measure it used to address it. That is sometimes called "testing" but I think it is just sheer frustration that they are trying to get across a message and hitting seems to be the only thing that breaks the cycle (even if it is with a punishment not in thier favor). We did have a problem with dd hitting other children for a while. The solution turned out to be very easy but it took a while to figure out what it was<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> Before we would see the other children we would have a talk about hitting. That it hurts people, people do not like to play with hitters, and most improtantly we gave her an alternative way to get across her frustration. I told her that at any point she could yell "mommy, help" and I would come right away to find out what the problem/frustration was. We repeat the talk every time we are going to be aorund other children although it is much more condensed now....more like "Remember you call yell, 'Mommy help'". As she has learned to navigate her feelings and playing with others, she has gotten to the point where she rarely has to ask for help, but at first it was frequent. In your case it might be helpful to have a converstaion during breakfast each day about hitting. When she is calm she might be able to tell you why it happens or maybe not. But whatever the case, try and think of another way she can get your attention or can let out her frustrations. Maybe suggest that when she feels like she needs to hit to either hit a pillow or ask you (daddy, nanny) for a cuddle time. She is old enough that she might even be able to help come up with ideas. Repeat the converstaion (or some version or code word over time) daily. It will probably continue for a time but I suggest skipping consequences and simply say that you do not like to be hit and go on. Working on it during the heat of the moment usually does not work (as you have already noticed). Good luck!
 

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Although this isn't a popular answer here, this was the only situation with my son that we used timeouts. As you said, not without trying to find root causes and not without working really hard to be proactive about the situations. But, for us, timeouts were part of the solution because it removed DS from the situation and allowed me to concentrate on the victim, if the victim were me it kept me from responding by hitting back (a natural response that I had trouble with, probably given my own background), it was something that everyone involved in disciplining my child could do consistantly (me, DH, daycare). And last, but not least, it satisfied my DH's deep need to "do something" when he hit, especially if he was hitting me.<br><br>
With my daughter, I have modified this somewhat into "please go sit in the living room until you are calm and can be nice", without a formal timeframe attached.<br><br>
I think that removing a child from the situation where he or she is hitting makes more sense than removing toys -- at least there is a logical connection between hitting someone and having to be away from that someone. Unless, of course, she is using the toy to hit. Then I would certainly remove the toy!<br><br>
The one thing that you may need to remind yourself is that this can take a long time to resolve. Months of consistant work may be necessary, so don't give up and say "nothing is working", it may just need lots of time.<br><br>
And no, I don't think that hitting or whatever is outside of normal for this age range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok, I talked with our Nanny this morning, and we brain-stormed a bit more. We altered the plan as follows - still need to run it by DH.<br><br>
When Molly Hurts Someone<br><br>
•Respond – remove attention from her.<br>
oIf she hits you say, “I don’t want to play with you when you hit me.” Move away from her.<br>
oIf she hits Sara say, “Sara doesn’t want to play with you when you hit her.” Move Sara away from her.<br>
oStay away for a while.<br>
oMolly will probably have a tantrum - ignore her. But if she screams at you say “You may cry, but you may not scream at me. Please do not scream.” If she is disturbing anyone with her tantrum say, “Your crying is disturbing so-and-so. It’s ok to cry, but please go to another room.”<br>
•After she calms down and is ready to make peace -<br>
oExpress your (or Sara’s) hurt feelings. Say “I don’t like it when you hit me.” “Sara doesn’t like it when you hit her.”<br>
oAn apology is suggested, but not demanded. “Perhaps you ought to apologize.”<br>
oGive hugs.<br>
•Resolution – teach her how to keep from doing it again – just for the specific situation that happened – keep it simple – don’t get into a massive discussion on how to handle every possible situation – focus on what JUST happened.<br>
oShe can’t just say, “I won’t hit again.” She needs to know what she will do/say differently when the situation happens again.<br>
If she is having trouble with Sara, she needs to say “Mommy/Daddy/Mary help.”<br>
If she wants to play, she needs to say, “Mommy/Daddy/Mary let’s play.”<br>
If she needs attention, she needs to say, “Mommy/Daddy/Mary I need attention.”<br>
If she is excited, she needs to say, “Mommy/Daddy/Mary I am excited.”<br>
And so on...<br>
oTeach her the consequences of her action – again, keep it simple and concise – no big, long discussion – just say these things and move on.<br>
The impact it has on the person (it hurts to be hit)<br>
The impact it has on her relationship with the person (no one likes to be around people who hurt them; the person might want to hit her back; the person might become afraid of her; Sara may not want to share her toys ever with her).<br>
•Reconciliation – heal the relationship with the person she harmed<br>
oWhat can she do to help the person have a better day?<br>
oGive her the opportunity to do something she knows makes the person happy.<br>
oHelp her find the “goodness” in herself again.<br>
oPraise, praise, praise her for being kind to the person.<br><br>
We also decided to keep a log of DD's negative behaviors for one week, listing the day, time, the behavior, what we did about it, and possible triggers for it. That way we might be able to get a handle on what is causing all this.
 

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I think you are on the right track. My experience with confiscating toys is that it increases the child's anger, and ultimately elicits more lashing out. I don't know if its "normal" or not, but both my kids went through hitting phases at 4 yo. Maybe she is ahead of the game!<br><br>
One thing to consider incorporating is regular role playing. Its one thing for a young child to have verbal skills, its another for them to effectively make use of them when they are having very strong feelings. When you work on the "what can you do next time?" phase of your plan, it may be helpful to feed her some lines and ask her to practise saying them. I talked to my children about "having a problem" and what action would "help solve the problem." We talked about how hitting usually made it worse and didn't fix the problem. But "Saying what the problem is and asking for help" often helped the problem. Along with this approach, it is important for you and the nanny to be *extra* tuned in to her. Always listening and reflecting her words and feelings, so that she learns that using words is effective, that she is not too small to be heard, etc.
 

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We take toys away if the toy was the offender, meaning the child used the toy to hit or hurt with. I also take away toys that cause frustration, the toy goes on time out.<br><br>
I don't think taking toys away as a punishment if the toys were not involved is a worth wild thing to take on.<br><br>
The real question is WHY is she hitting, kicking, hurting others? Sometimes the answer isn't easy to find and in our case took a few years. We discovered our ds2 was in pain all the time and took out his pain in angry aggression, he had undiagnosed Celiac Disease causing him terrible pain in his belly every day of his little life. We got rid of the his pain and he is no longer as aggressive or angry, hitting, throwing fits, kicking etc.<br><br>
If we all knew why our kids misbehaved, then we would all live in utopia!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Another thing - After DD hurts, she will say, "I won't hit/kick/hurt again." And DH has taken to saying, "Yes, you will. You always do." And then DD gets upset and says, "No, I won't!"<br><br>
I think this reaction from him is completely wrong. I understand what he is trying to do - he's trying to tell DD that she might hit/kick/hurt again, and that saying she won't is probably not true. But is there something else he could say instead, or something that we could teach her to say. Perhaps she should say, "I will TRY not to hit/kick/hurt again." That might be more honest.<br><br>
What do you all think?
 
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