When your little one resorts to hitting
Our little one is five years old and she is a real little doll, most of the time. She laughs, dances and says such cute things. A little too honest at times, but you know the saying: honesty is the best policy, unless it’s something that should just not be said. Being the baby and only girl, K is often the centre of everyone’s attention. K is so friendly and loves everyone, she enjoys chatting it up with an older woman at the hair salon as much as she does with one of her classmates. Often a real charmer, handing out her compliments and flattering everyone that pays a minutes attention to her. So when I received a note home from K’s teacher I was quite shocked! She had used hands-on and forgotten to use her words! What happened? There are many reasons why your little one is hitting others. The best thing is to find out why and try to stop it before it gets out of hand.
Use your words, not your hands
We have always encouraged K to use her words and not her hands. Hands-on is an unacceptable way of handling a situation for anyone, including little ones. In most schools the use of using their words is encouraged as a way to deal with conflict among the kids. In this particular case, K had been playing with another little guy in her class and he had decided it was a great idea to pull her around by her pony tail. K didn’t think his idea was a very good one, so she tried to get a teachers attention but for some reason, maybe the noise level in the classroom, nobody paid any attention to her cries for help. She then took matters into her own hands and hit the little boy! Although, the teacher was quick to say that K had tried several times to stop the little boy, it is still wrong to hit back.
Being little isn’t so fun
We tend to think being little is cute, but for the child it can be very frustrating. Trying to get people to listen and understand what they are trying to convey is quite a chore at times, for them. Imagine wanting something on the counter but you are just too short to reach it. Or you feel like nobody is listening when you cry out for help. Often little ones will resort to aggressive behaviour out of frustration and to be heard.
Is your child being hit?
Do not allow hitting from other children or adults. I know this is such a controversy with parents. Some parents feel that the old fashioned way works best and I am not saying I know it all, but I do know that if a child is hit or slapped at home, they tend to act the same way with other children. If you are slapping or hitting out of anger, your little one learns to use this as their defense when they do not like something. Use of positive discipline is more effective than physical discipline.
Are you listening?
Grown ups need to LISTEN when their little one is crying out for help, whether it’s a conflict with another child or they are frustrated. When the parents or teachers do not respond to the child in need, they will get frustrated and act out. A lot of times the child will resort to hitting or slapping if nobody listens and comes to their aid. This isn’t always easy to do as parents and teachers are not always on the scene and things do happen. This is what happened in my little ones situation and we still had to explain to her that she can not use her hands on other children.
Stop the teasing! I don’t know how many times I have seen a bigger child or adult teasing a little one. The little one feels totally helpless and resorts to hitting or biting. The little one is then disciplined. Although, you cannot condone what the child did, you have to look at the circumstances and teach the child to yell loudly for help instead of hitting. Be firm with the older child or adult when telling them that teasing is unacceptable and they are causing the little one to become aggressive.
These are just a few things to look at if your child has started hitting others. We have explained to K that it just isn’t acceptable to use her hands to deal with any situation and she needs to use her words. Keep practicing the “hands off” and “use your words” rule and make sure you praise, praise and praise some more when the child gets it right!
I thought I would share a wonderful resource for parents to use when teaching their children to use their words.
The story focuses on Roo, whom Kanga teaches to use his words to express how he feels about things if he’s upset or frustrated. When he arrives one day with Piglet for a playdate at Pooh‘s house, the two find that Pooh is busy searching for a missing honey pot. Pooh and Piglet get so caught up in looking for the honey pot that they forget Roo is there and don’t hear his offer to help. Roo leaves, very upset and nothing will cheer him up until he gets home and Kanga tells him that he should use his words to express to Pooh and Piglet how he feels.
Do you have any tips to help parents who are trying to break the hitting habit?