Children reach almost seventy-five percent of their mental development by the time they are 4 years old. All children have an inborn motivation to learn, however, each child learns at his or her own pace. Children learn through active participation in different activities, by engaging their all five senses. They like to repeat an activity over and over so as to perfect newly acquired skills. During the process of learning, children learn good things as well as bad things. Disciplining your child can be a daunting task.
Children may hit, bite, pull or throw things. This behavior indicates aggressive nature growing in them. If not addressed early, these kinds of tantrums could lead to bad consequences. While hitting might be a normal behavior in children, developmentally it is not appropriate. You cannot change your child’s hitting behavior over night, however, if you are gentle, you can teach your child not to hit.
Discourage Your Child When He/She Starts Hitting
Children hit their siblings, friends, seniors, even parents. It is necessary to teach your child not to hit. Children hitting indicates many things. As for instance, my 3 years old nephew express his extreme emotions by hitting and biting people who love him very much. Children hit to display their array of emotions.
My nephew started hitting, throwing things, biting, pulling hair, and showing tantrums when he was 15 months old. He was beginning to understand verbal instructions and took cue from his mother to hit his father, and from father to hit his mother. Since the parents laughed, he was encouraged. By the time he was 20 months old, he began to bite and spit. Now the parents were worried. Children learn different types of behavior from their surroundings.
When Samyak joined preschool, he was excited. However, a week later, he did not want to go to the school. His parents tried to appease him with goodies, but he did not back down. Parents then forcefully took him to school. The next day, he got fever. Later, they learned some of the kids in the school hit him. Children hitting may lead to serious consequences.
I’m not raising children. However, from my observation of child behavior, I have found children as young as 10 months old hit. How they nurture this habit is an interesting phenomenon. To find out how children develop hitting behavior and how this problem can be handled, I interviewed Child Psychologist and Early Childhood Development expert. Here are the findings.
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
Since the children have limited communicative skills, they try to get attention by hitting people. The basic rule to discipline your child is don’t ignore him/her.
Children learn from nature and nurture. Don’t laugh or smile when a child begins to hit, he/she might get encouraged.
If your child begins to hit, hold his/her hands and divert his/her attention. Instead of scolding, teach your child hitting hurts.
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
Every child is a distinct individual, and every parent has different parenting methods. Your child maybe very normal in home and aggressive amongst peers, or vice versa. To help a child acquire good behavior, you need to understand his/her temperament. The methods you choose to discipline your child depend on the type of behavior your child displays.
When your child hits, make him/her aware about natural and logical consequences. As a natural consequence, you may help your child understand hitting hurts. Logical consequences involve teaching your child what is appropriate behavior and what is not.
It is necessary to teach your child what is acceptable behavior. However, don’t give negative instructions. Many children, even adults, do not follow negative instructions. Instead of saying don’t throw a glass, you can ask your child to kick a ball.
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.
(Based on the interview conducted with Rubina Thapa, Child Psychologist)
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.
When you beget second child, your first child could be feel less loved and begin to show tantrums. If unchecked, this could lead to serious sibling rivalry.
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.
If you treat your child like grown up, he/she will start behaving like adults.
(Based on the interview conducted with Neelam Sharma, Early Childhood Development Expert)
Are you raising a child who shows tantrums?
Do you use corporal punishment to discipline your child?