When your child gets physically full-on with you, it can be hard to stay rational and unflustered, can't it? Having your physical boundaries pushed can naturally push you to your limits; but staying calm and in control when your child isn’t, is key in making a difference to their behaviour. 
 
If you have a child who is hitting or smacking you, it is totally understandable that you may feel angry, shameful or embarrassed, especially if it happens when you are out in public! You may even feel that you are to blame or you are doing something wrong. Many parents have told me they worry that their child is aggressive, violent or going to grow up not respecting others.
 
Talking about a child - in particular, if it is an older child - can be a bit of a taboo, and we aren’t keen to open up about it for fear of being judged, mocked or given helpful yet really infuriating advice that can just make us feel worse.
 
 
If your child is hitting, read on - this article IS written for you!
 
I hope I can reassure you that:
  • You’re NOT getting anything wrong
  • You’re NOT doing the wrong things
  • Your child isn’t violent or aggressive
  • Most children will hit out at some point
 
There is always a communication behind their behaviour! Children have feelings just like we do; they get angry, annoyed or frustrated. These feelings can feel too big for them; and if they don’t feel like they are being heard or listened to, they can resort to rolling out something that does! The feeling behind the behaviour is always acceptable, but the action that it brings is sometimes unacceptable.
 
I hope you believe me when I say, you’re definitely not alone and you are certainly not the only one, as one in five families who contact me do so because they are concerned about their child’s hitting.
 
 
There can be many reasons WHY your child is hitting out and, without knowing their full history, it is impossible to give you a definite answer - but here are my best pieces of advice for WHEN they do:
 
  • Be consistent and do these steps every time they do hit. Giving those firm yet loving boundaries helps them feel settled, allowing them to change their behaviour.
  • To see a change in their behaviour ,we must change ours. It is very common that we do what I call 'the behaviour dance'; we do exactly the same steps and reaction each time they behave in a certain way.
  • Take a really big, deep breath and take a moment before you respond to them. This can really help that knee-jerk reaction to shout or push back, AND it helps keep you calm and in control.
  • Take a step away from them, or move back from them slightly. If they keep on hitting you, step completely out of their range, because standing there whilst they hit you reinforces that it is OK for them to do this.
  • In a low and firm voice, say: “I can see you are angry/frustrated/cross, but I am not for hitting. I won’t let you hit me”.
  • Follow up by empathising how they are feeling, but be clear that the action is not acceptable. For example:
 - “I can see you are cross that I turned off the TV. It is OK to feel cross, but it is not OK to hit me”
 - “I really see how frustrating this is making you feel, but I won’t let you hit me”
 - “It can make us angry when something doesn’t go our way, but we don’t use our fists”
 
  • Try not to shout or overreact to them. When they have lost control and hit out, they need us to their safe place.
  • Keep your emotions out of it. Yes, this is really hard but by getting cross, anxious or angry just makes them even angrier as they mimic our emotions.
  • As tempting as it is, try not to ask questions that they can’t answer:
“Why have you hit me?”
   “Why are you doing this?”
         “What are you doing this for?”
  • If they follow you around or continue to hit you, it is OK to get down to their level, take their hands firmly and say, “I have said I will not let you hit me”, then confidently walk away.
allison williams good luck fingers crossed
 
This isn’t a quick fix; but if you are consistent, you should see a difference to their behaviour. Best of luck!
Parent Coach

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