I have heard this way too much: “I have attempted to do everything that I can to get my oldest son to stop hitting his other kids. Sometimes he even hits me. Then I only get angrier. Punishing my son doesn't seem to work and my last alternative is to spank him. And when I do spank him and make him apologize, he's back hitting the very next day!”
There are thousands and thousands of parents who are going through this very same situation every day. One thing leads to another with a child who is behaving badly and then the end result is the spanking of him.
But how are we ever going to teach our children that it is not alright to hurt others when we continue to hurt them as well? What sense does that make? Sure it temporarily relieves the situation but you have just reinforced to your son that hitting is ok to do, especially to them. Do we really want to set that kind of precedent for our children?
When your son or daughter is hitting other children, or perhaps even you and your spouse, it is usually because their feelings are hurt. Your child needs help from you but may feel frustrated because he or she isn't getting the help that they need.
And this all probably makes you just as frustrated because you want your child to treat others respectfully and may even worry that your child's behavior is a reflection on you as a parent. Perhaps you are even overreacting and treating your child disrespectfully out of shame and embarrassment, trying to prove to other adults around you that you won't let your child get away with this behavior.
Below are a few “spank-free” suggestions for your parenting toolbox to help you communicate to your child who is having a problem hitting others:
1. Take the child by the hand and say “I am sorry that your feelings are hurt. How are you feeling? You can talk about it or you can hit a pillow, but do not hit people. People are not for hitting, do you understand?”
2. Ask your child “If you are angry then would it help if you went to your time-out place now?” Keep in mind that a time-out space can only be helpful in this situation if you have successfully helped a child to create their own “positive time-out spot”.
3. Once your child has calmed down then be sure to ask a lot of questions. Sit down with them and create a soothing and loving atmosphere. Then begin to ask a lot of “why” questions and “how” questions. Let them draw on paper anything that will help them tell you how they feel.
Finally, never discipline a child when angry. Most of the time this just escalates the situation and does not help. One last thought, if we spank or yell at our children what kind of message does that send them? Yelling, hitting or intimidating someone is a method to get your way? I am in no way suggesting permissive parenting, there has to be discipline and limits, but instead I am suggesting looking for alternatives. This is something to reflect on.
What do you think? All views welcome. Click here to post your comment Thankyou for the comments here and on Netscape. These were just some ideas to try. I a firmly against physical or a verbal lashing in a child. I grew up in that environment and still have the emotional scars. Obviously different kids respond differently depending on age, situation, etc. When a child misbehaves it may be an indication something is going on in their lives and it is important we connect with the child and understand their behavior. Are they being influenced by others at daycare, school etc? Is there someone who is bullying them and they are modeling that behavior? Have we as parents been neglicting them? I know at times I have been guilty of the latter and many times misbehavior is a call for attention, even though they know that attention will end up getting them in trouble. The main point is by forming a deeper connection and understanding of our children we can be more proactive. This is not to say that I am advocating permissiveness either.
Children need to understand limits and consequences for their behavior. Time outs can be given, prevleges or their favorite toys or games can be taken away.
One last point, I feel more emphasis can be placed on 'good' behavior. Many times we spend so much time trying to 'fix' our kids or correcting bad behavior, the good things kids do is sometimes overlooked or trivialized. Children are in a continual development stage and perhaps the best thing we can do is be a positive role model and give praise when we 'catch' our child doing something good.