When Kids Hit
We all get
angry, and sometimes young children have difficulty
dealing with their angry impulses. When kids are too
young to express themselves verbally, they may resort to
expressing their anger physically and hit. Even older
kids let anger get the best of them and may lash out
physically. Children often hit if
they've seen someone else hitting or have little impulse
control. They may imitate what they see on television or
movies. As a result, make sure you know what your kids
are watching, and eliminate violent shows. In addition,
don't role model hitting at home. Spanking a young child
who is hitting will confuse her and make matters worse.
Below are some tips to help handle this troublesome
Stop The Negative Behavior
When a young child hits, immediately remove him from the
situation. Give him time away as a consequence for his
actions. For example, if he's in his bedroom playing
with a friend, have him move to another room to calm
down. With very young kids such as toddlers, you can
physically pick them up and move them. As a parent, you
need to stay calm and explain that it is not o.k. to
hit. Set a timer for his "calm down time". A good
formula for setting timers is one minute for each year
old. For instance, a 2-year-old can wait for 2 minutes
before resuming play.
When older children hit, intervene immediately. Separate
the children and mediate while they discuss their
problem. Let each child have a chance to speak while the
other listens calmly. Then, encourage the aggressive
child to discuss what she could have done differently to
settle the conflict. Help the kids problem solve
different solutions and give them positive feedback for
working things out in a calm manner.
Help your kids devise alternative strategies
Take time to help your kids learn alternative behaviors
to hitting. Encourage them to express their feelings
verbally or walk away when they are angry. If their
strategies are not working, let them know that they can
seek help from an adult. Even very young kids can learn
to use words and walk away from problem situations. Role
model these very behaviors daily to set a good example
for your kids!
Reward positive behavior
Praise is the name of the game. When you see your child
choosing a positive alternative to hitting, let her know
that you are proud. Use a behavior chart to set up a
formal reward system. Take a look at some of our
printable behavior charts!
Always remember that when we stay calm as parents and
caregivers, our children will stay calmer and calm down
quicker. When our anger escalates, so does our child's.
Model calm behavior and give yourself some time-out to
calm down if necessary.
If your child's aggressive behavior seems to be getting
worse, you may need to seek professional help. Your
child may have additional concerns causing the
aggressive behavior that a qualified counselor can help
him sort through.
*Don't forget to read our article on
rivalry to get some
additional information on sibling conflict!
*Check out our
behavior chart specifically designed for hitting!
by Joanne McNulty,
Free Printable Behavior Charts