You’re having a good time playing a game with your children and wham, out of nowhere, your little one hits you square in the face. You can hardly understand the reason or context, but you know she is angry and perhaps reacting to something that happened in the game.
It may not be a big deal if it’s a one time occurrence but if this is a recurring habit that is happening at school and at home, and others have also mentioned it to you, then hitting will quickly become a big deal to you. If it’s happening once in a while right now, it’s better to nip it in the bud before it becomes too challenging to correct.
So, what can parents do to manage this behaviour?
First thing to realise is that all misbehaviour can stem from your child feeling that they don’t have a sense of belonging or significance or they are just angry and don’t have the tools to express them in a healthy way.
So, here are some strategies you can use with your children.
Spanking, yelling and punishing your child are all counterproductive and only teach your child that it’s okay to react to tough situations in such ways. Your child will also get a dose of attention for their negative behaviour which will only reinforce this behaviour next time around.
Check for sensory sensitivities
Is your child feeling overwhelmed and too stimulated by their surroundings? It is possible that your child may have a sensory sensitivity which may require them to be removed from overstimulating environments. If they have any sensory issues, it may make them more likely to push or hit others and they might benefit from regular massages, calming exercises and tight hugs.
Remind them that behavior is separate from feelings
It is important to empathize with your child’s feelings and to let them know that you understand their big emotions. And, you should remind them that while it is okay to feel such big emotions such as anger and frustration, it’s not okay to act out on those feelings by hitting, pushing and biting others.
Practice what to do next time
Once your child is calm, it is a good idea to practise how things can be handled differently the next time around. You can do a role-playing activity by acting out a situation and let them decide what would be a better way to behave in such a situation instead of hitting. Practising alternative ways to handle frustrating situations will help your children with conflict resolution and behaviour management.
Look for triggers
All behaviour happens for a reason so, it is important to find out what’s making your child hit others and what’s pushing them to that point. Once you have an idea about what the reasons are, then do your best to avoid these triggering situations. Is your child tired, hungry, needs a nap, overstimulated, stressed from school? There could be many reasons why they are acting out and many situations which can be handled differently.
Allow lots of play time
Children have a lot of physical energy and they need to move around and use up all the extra energy they have. Parents should encourage as much outdoor play as their children’s schedule allows them to encourage movement and release some of that energy in a positive way.
If children are acting out, usually this is a desire for two areas, feelings of significance or belonging. This can be easily managed with a 10minute per day connection one on one time, at the same time every day. Giving the child a feeling that they know at this time of the day they have your undivided attention. This will help minimise the behavior and acting out.
What are they eating?
Often behavior is directly linked to what food they eat? Are you feeding them processed foods, or sugars, stimulates. Keeping them on fresh food will most certainly minimise mood swings. Read on the packets what is in the food you feed them, are there numbers on there you don’t understand? Then don’t eat it. These are often additives and processed foods that can contribute to many health issues. Keep it simple…fresh fruit and vegetables.