How To Stop Kids From Hitting

If your child is hitting others or you, this article will tell you how to get them to stop hitting! Toddlers especially hit others to express anger, frustration, or dominance... but sometimes children hit others because they think it's funny.

How To Stop Kids From Hitting

When Children attack…  

It’s our job as parents to teach our kids how to engage socially with others in a positive way, but sometimes there’s no warning.  They just lash out for seemingly no reason.  This article will attempt to identify some of the reasons behind hitting and offer some practical solutions in dealing with this type of behavior.

One of the most embarrassing situations a parent can face is when their child takes a swipe at another child.  The reaction from the child who has just been hit isn’t the worst thing – it’s the look of contempt from the other parent as if to say “how could you let your child do that?”

 Examining the Motive…

We must first examine the motive behind the thought that compels a child to hit,  then we are best equipped to deal with the problem.  With this in mind, we can identify three distinct groups.

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1) First Timers

These children are unaware of the consequences of their actions.  Young children especially are all about exploring the world and discovering new things.  It may be that they get overexcited and strike out at the nearest object, or it may be that they become mesmerized by their playmate's face and decide to hit it.  However, the idea of causing harm to another human being couldn’t be further from their mind.  The solution here begins with helping them understand which actions hurt others.

  • Talk to the child — explain that their actions have hurt someone
  • Have them say sorry
  • Let them see the other child is upset/crying

2) Attention Seekers

You guessed it — these little troublemakers just want your undivided attention and they’ve discovered at some point in their short lives that attacking their friends is one of the best ways to make a scene.

  • Don’t give them the attention they want – this only encourages the behavior
  • Place them in time out
  • Sympathize with the victim.  Give them your attention and sympathy.  Overdo it!  When your child sees this they will realize that their actions have the opposite effect to what they intended – the other kid gets all the attention.
  • Encourage good behavior.  Pay attention to your child when they are playing nicely.

3) Repeat offenders

The motivation that drives this group is primarily anger and frustration.  They have learned to intimidate or hurt others to get their way.  They may lack the skills to communicate their wishes any other way.

  • Identify a situation that is developing early on.  Help your child learn to deal with a disagreement before it escalates into a punch up.
  • Supervise the situation to help ensure that toys are shared fairly.
  • Provide an alternative to hitting – play with someone else, use words to express yourself, and so on.  Ask your child for suggestions.

In summary,  most of us are not inherently violent and it’s a phase that passes quickly in most cases.   The important thing is to find what works for your child and be consistent. Feel free to share your experiences — what works, what doesn’t — in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear from you!

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