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Old 10-01-2007, 01:42 AM   #23
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Default Re: Collected Posts about "You Hit, You Sit" and General Posts about Hitting

. . . continued from previous post
Title: Re: Dd's hitting is NOT stopping
Post by: Joanne on June 09, 2007, 09:46:16 AM

I have about 2 seconds to post, so I'm going to cut and paste from a draft:

Aggressive and Physical Behavior

Aggressive and/or physical behavior is often one of the first challenges that parents face after the infant months. It makes complete sense. The child is growing cognitively and has a desire to communicate those feelings and thoughts. At the same time, the child is becoming more aware of his/her body, it’s abilities and power. Add to that mix limited impulse control and limited verbal ability and the fact that a child expresses themselves phsycially is not a surprise. It’s important to understand and acknowledge that it’s age expected. If we do not expect the behavior, we are more likely to react with anger towards our child.

It’s important to also remember that we do not want to stop physicalness in our children, we want to direct it and help them manage it. Their little bodies are exploding with emotionally fueled energy. We can’t stop that. Instead, we need to find ways to make available appropriate physical expression.

However, as with other age expected behaviors, the fact that it’s common does not make it acceptable. Children in this stage need coaching, clear boundaries and proactive approaches.

This chapter will present several common aggressive or physical behaviors along with both proactive and responsive tools.


Biting is a common behavior in young children. It’s one that parents react strongly too, both the parents of the biting child and the parents of the children who get bitten. In my daycare, I experienced the most passionate responses from parents over issues involving biting.

Some children are more prone to biting than others. You’ll see biting emerge around the 1 year mark and disappear around age 3.

Many children who bite have a high oral need for stimulation. They seek sensation using their mouth. If you can increase appropriate stimulation to their mouth, you can decrease the frequency of biting. There are several ways to do this. You can increase the chewy foods a child eats, such as fruit leather or bagels. Increase spicy foods such as sausage or salsa. Offer hot or cold foods, such as smoothies or soup. Finally, have the child use a straw often.

When biting does occur, remove the child from the immediate area. Say “No biting. Biting hurts”. Look at the situation, and if you can identify what the bite was used to communicate, offer substitute words. Coach the child to say “I need space” or “I’d like a turn” or “I’m angry”. If the child is not yet verbal, you can use baby signs.

For the toddler or younger, offer a designated toy for biting. “You may not bite people, you may bite this.”

If your child continues to bite with frequency, you will need to provide constant and arms reach supervision until your child has moved out of this stage.


Hitting is a very common way for young children to express themselves. As young children with very big emotions, they are just learning how to manage the energy behind their emotions.

Children hit when they are threatened, thwarted, excited, angry, frustrated, tired, and because it’s exciting.

Proactive discipline tools for a hitting child include: coaching, role playing, naming feelings, sensory/texture play, routine and baby signs. Making sure your child gets plenty of outdoor and large motor play helps, as well.

As far as responsive discipline tools, you need to stop the child and remove them if needed. Tell them “No hitting. Hitting hurts”. Avoid saying “We don’t hit”. It’s an inaccurate and confusing phrase to your child. Obviously, they do hit. They just did. Instead, stop their arm and tell them “I won’t let you hurt me (or that child). I will help you follow the rules.”

Title: Re: Dd's hitting is NOT stopping
Post by: gracieannsmom on June 18, 2007, 08:36:54 AM

Finally! I can reply!! Everytime I log on it's during the weekend "non posting" time! These are all good suggestions and it's good to know that I'm not alone in this. I think I need to print out some of the suggesions because I tend to forget when a situation arises.
I have to say that the problem started to escalate over the last few days. Grace was playing with a friend and I had to run upstars to change the baby. As I was coming back down I hear screaming. Grace had pinched her friend. I removed her from the situation and explained that pinching is not okay, it hurts. But whenever I try to do any teaching with my dd she just talks right over me, changing the subject and that just raises my blood pressure like you wouldn't believe. Even if I wait until later to try to explain what went wrong, she still doesn't listen. Today I was trying to praise her for making her bed all by herself and she just spoke over me again. She doesn't want to hear what I have to say.
Over the weekend, I had my neighbor over for coffee and her dd and mine were watching a movie together. The girls started having a disagreement about the seating arrangements and my dd scratched her friend so hard that it was bleeding. My house is set up so that you can't see the kids in one room if you're in the next. I realize I should have been in there supervising so a lot of it is my fault. But, my friend and I were having a cup of coffee and were drinking it in the kitchen because there isn't enough room in the living room when the kids are watching a video. Anyway, I feel embarassed just pulling dd aside and telling her she may not hit/kick/spit/pinch, etc...because it happens so often I feel like a broken record and nothing changes and the behavior doesn't change.

I should have posted this in the high need forum because dd is a classic example. I'm wondering if I need to get her seen by a dr. because she is SO hyperactive that I sometimes wonder if something is wrong. She pops out of bed at 6:30am and is jumping around like a mexican jumping bean all day. Even right before bed at night she's bouncing off the walls. She refuses to nap or even have a quiet time. I offer to read books but she's up and moving around in five minutes. I have a very, very hard time being around her all day. A lot of the time when she hits or hurts a friend it seems to be in the afternoon when she's tired. Not always, but a lot of the time. Other times I'm not sure what the trigger is.

She also makes her own agenda and if it doesn't go according to her plan she has a fit. For example, last night she wanted to play in the sprinkler, so dh said he'd set it up. Immediately she said "I can go play in the water and my friend can come over and we'll play together then I'll go to her house and we can play some more". I said "no honey, all daddy said is that he would set up the sprinkler for you. You're making up your own plan but that's not what mommy and daddy said" This happens all the time and its a problem when she does it and her friend doesn't want to go along with it....that might be another reason for the hitting

Anyway, I know some of this is off topic but it was on my mind and I wanted to share it.

Title: Re: Dd's hitting is NOT stopping
Post by: canadiyank on June 18, 2007, 01:41:39 PM

For the talking over I'd say, "Stop. You need to stop your mouth and listen to mama." Teach her about interruption and what to do..."If you want to say something while mama is talking say, 'Excuse me, please.'" Or, have her put a hand on your arm. Don't make her look in your eyes, as some people try to do that so they know the kid is "listening," but it can be shaming and is often the only time a parent makes direct eye contact. Instead I say, "You need to keep your body still and listen to mama's words."

I'd also try some side-by-side stuff playing with her and bring things up. Say, if you're playing side-by-side with blocks you could bring up a situation that might happen. "Let's pretend Lilly was going to grab your blocks...what are some things we could do?"

This whole discussion might be helpful, but right now you might find the "what to do in a crisis" section in Chapter 2 ( of Dealing With Disappointment helpful.

AFA her telling you what is going to happen, like in the sprinkler scenario, she's firmly in the "words are magic" stage and thinks if she says it it's going to happen. With my dd I said things like, "Oh, that would be fun, wouldn't it?" "You wish that could happen, don't you?" (said sympathetically). She'll likely respond loudly that that's what IS going to happen. I would matter of factly say, "Today daddy's putting it up for you. Maybe another day we could have Jane to play."

Before Jane comes to play I'd review about "gentle hands." I'd also get her to make amends by giving gentle touches and a verbal apology. This may have to wait a few mins. while she calms down, but it's an important part of the teaching.

You might also find this thread on 3 yo's ( helpful.


Title: Re: Dd's hitting is NOT stopping
Post by: gracieannsmom on June 18, 2007, 02:39:33 PM

Canadiyank, I love your suggestions! Why does it always sound so simple when someone else says it? Why don't I think of these things

Title: Re: Dd's hitting is NOT stopping
Post by: canadiyank on June 18, 2007, 09:58:26 PM

Thanks, I'm glad it was helpful! ITU about other peoples' suggestions feeling helpful...sometimes we just need a fresh pair of eyes looking at the situation, kwim? That's what makes this community so fantastic, I think, the group brainstorming and hugs!!

Title: Re: Dd's hitting is NOT stopping
Post by: Auroras mom on June 22, 2007, 08:45:42 AM

Crystal, when you say that the child who was hit was also wrong and needs to make amends first, I feel instinctively against that. My daughter is a frequent victim of a couple of children, one in particular. My daughter is 15 months old and the hitter is 23 months old. What my child does to provoke her is simply exisiting. My daughter will be in "her space" because we are at her house, and she will walk up and whack my baby over the head, oftentimes so unexpectedly that we can't stop it before it happens. Why should my child make amends? How was she wrong? Same thing for when they are fighting over a toy - my daughter may select a particular toy and start playing with it, and this child comes up and whacks her. I am not saying my child is a saint, heavens no - she hits us and has hit another child when she wanted a chair he was sitting in (and I feel he was an innocent victim in that situation, and she was the wrongdoer...).

But anyway, I feel in these situations, at least with small toddlers, that usually there is one responsible person. Is my child "wrong" ffor being there? Should I take her home then and not inflict her presence on others because they might feel territorial and hit her?

I am trying very hard to learn how to deal withthis hitting problem, both as parent of a victim and of a hitter.

I also do not like the forced amends making. I need someone to explain this to me. When I was forced to do this as a child, it felt VERY shaming. It also was not sincere. Can someone talk to me about this forced amends making stuff for small children, and how it jives with AP and GD?

Title: Re: Dd's hitting is NOT stopping
Post by: canadiyank on June 22, 2007, 11:26:53 AM

Tonya - I'm not Crystal (she's out of town right now) but I'll address your questions. First, you'll notice Crystal said *if* the child provokes they need to make amends. This is not always the case. What she was addressing is the fact in a lot of dynamics there's a hittee who actually provoked the situation. I've seen that with my dd's - the older one will collapse in a heap b/c the younger one hit her. In fact, she's just been harassing Aliah until she hit. In that case, both sides need to be addressed...certainly the hitting is wrong, but so is the harassment. Does that make more sense?

Here's a quote from her post above. I don't believe she's talking about unprovoked hitting except to say that the child who hits *feels* that way, whether or not your child did something, swim?

The thing to remember is that children who hit are provoked. We may not understand what provoked them, or think that hitting was justified, but in their minds they were provoked. I try to make sure that one thing I do in the process is ask them what provoked them and address better ways to respond as well as teach the other child a better way to communicate their point. Often it was someone in their space, or someone grabbing a toy, or saying something that hurt their feelings. These are problems that need to be addressed also.

The child who hit does need to make amends, but often the child who was hit needs to make amends first. If they provoked then they wronged the hitter also.
If the other child is too territorial and you are unable to protect your child while she's there and the other parent is not stepping in, then I would not go. She doesn't need to be a victim. But at the same time, that child is learning, too, and it's an opportunity to begin teaching about space and boundaries. At that age the children may do parallel play, but they don't actually play most things devolve into territorial things and hitting simply b/c they *are* too young to share and play together. They need separate activites that can be well-supervised near you. Another option is to meet at a park or something where there's less space/toy issues.

We don't force amends. I know a lot of us were made to do forced apologies, but that's not what we're talking about here. I've actively taught my dd's what's expected, that that hurts and they need to use gentle hands, kind words replace harsh ones. Tossed off "sorry's" don't cut it and that's not "making amends," although apologizing can be part of it.

I know I can't force my child's heart, but I actively encourage them to think of ways to help the other feel better. If they can't do it right then, often b/c they are too worked up and as of yet unrepentant, I'll step in and make amends for them. Usually later we'll talk about it and I'll say, "What could have you done to make it right in this situation?" We've even gone back much later to family members and made amends.

So, we don't force, but I do encourage them to think of how their actions affected the other person and ways in which that could be changed. It's simply part of our day, I'm teaching them to be responsible for their actions. It may not be perfect or perfectly authentic, but it's the beginnings of compassion and taking responsibility. There's lots of times as an adult I'm not particularly sorry, but I was still in the wrong and have to take responsibility for my actions. And there's lots of times, like Crystal mentioned, that the kid doesn't realize he's actually hurt someone! Yet, there's still actions that need to be made right. Does that make more sense?
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