How can I help my child to stop hitting
Hitting is behaviour that scares all parents, we get scared that our children are becoming aggressive and will continue to develop that aggressiveness to eventually end up criminals. Of course the real reason for our fear is that this is completely out of our control as we cannot completely control another human being.
What it is critical for us to understand is that children specially at their toddler ages go through a developing process where they are learning to process their emotions, this is perfectly normal, they will overreact over little things (little things for us at least) and get very emotional. This strong expression of emotion can lead them to express it in physical ways like hitting others. This may be completely irrational for us but it is important that we understand that this is just part of their development and that we need to support them and guide them through these emotions.
Why do children hit?
As mentioned before, little children hit because they are still learning to express their big emotions and sometimes out of frustration they process them aggressively against others. It is important that we understand that this is just part of development and not judge them. However, we must not ignore this behaviour as it is our role to guide our children to express their emotions in a non-aggressive way.
I believe older children, above 6 years old, hit because its their way to express feelings or thoughts that they may not be allowed to express directly. They have learned to hit others to either make others feel the way they feel inside or even as a way to get their parents attention if they don’t have it fully. Hitting behaviour should be considered as a cry for help from our children and needs to be taken seriously not as reason to judge them or categorise them as “bad” but to find the reason why they are acting this way and help them.
Why Do Children Hit?
They may be emulating the behavior from their surroundings.
They want to express frustration.
They might be experiencing physical problems.
They are trying to gain attention.
They want something.
They are observing cause and effect phenomena.
They are telling about their uncomfortable situations.
They are jealous.
How to Discourage a Child from Hitting
You have to take care of your child’s wants and wishes. A child is a distinct individual, his wants and wishes are as important as yours.
Try to avoid situations that prompt aggressive behavior in children. Do not force your child to do what you want.
Usually, children do not follow negative instructions. Instead of saying don’t do this thing, divert your child’s attention to other creative activities.
Rewarding and punishment are the two basic ways to discipline a child. However, you have to remember, spanking and other forms of corporal punishments are detrimental.
Study your child behavioral pattern, and act accordingly.
Ways to Discipline Your Child
Children may also hit themselves. Don’t over react on such situation, be gentle and engage him/her in other creative activities. Since, the toddlers have limited communication skills, they might hit themselves when upset, or want something.
A child could develop hitting behavior when he/she is ignored, this happens especially when there is a younger child in the home, or parents are talking without caring what the child is trying to say. When the child does not get the attention, he/she becomes upset or jealous. To overcome this problem, don’t let your child unattended.
Sometime when you overreact while your child is hitting, he/she might be encouraged. Try to handle this situation calmly. Remember, negative instructions many times are counterproductive. When you say don’t hit, your child will probably ignore you. However, you can make him/her understand hitting is bad by explaining when he/she hits, other person will feel pain.
Occasionally punishing your children may also yield good result. However, you have to tell you child he/she is not being punished but experiencing consequences of his bad behavior. Reward your child whenever he/she does something good. Rewarding may encourage your child nurture good manners.
How to Discipline Your Child
While hitting maybe a normal behavior, it may also indicate dormant anti-social attitude. You have to differentiate biologically conditioned behavior and clinically abnormal behavior.
If you are highly patronizing parent, your child may develop hitting habit just to annoy you. If you want to discipline your child, you have to respect him/her.
If you are raising a single child, he/she may develop possessive attitude. Help him/her to socialize by taking to children gathering.
Don’t ignore your child’s unusual behavior because it may later develop into a major behavioral problem.
When you take interest in your child, you may get insights into his/her behavioral pattern thus being able to assist him/her overcome difficulties.
If your child’s teachers and neighbors inform you about your child hitting behavior, don’t ever hit or scold him/her in front of other people.
It is necessary to instill values and principles in your child, and base parent-child relationship in mutual trust and friendship.
Are you raising a child who shows tantrums?
Do you use corporal punishment to discipline your child?