How to wean your child from fighting with other children
Contributor(s): Wits End Parenting. Wits End Parenting is a parent counseling organization in Berkeley, California that specializes in children “with character” who have impulsivity, emotional instability, disobedience, listening problems and aggression. Wits End Parenting counselors help achieve discipline in a positive way, tailored to each child’s temperament, and achieve long-lasting results, saving parents from having to constantly reinvent discipline strategies.
Number of views on this article: 5529.
The desire to hit other children is a normal stage in a child’s development. Most children need to be taught that this is not allowed. Parents who are trying to wean their children from fighting should understand the cause of the problem and try to teach the child to show an alternative reaction. It is difficult to teach how to control aggression right when it occurs, so it should be done at times when the child is calm.
- The desire to bite and fight most often occurs at the age of 1.5 to 2.5 years, when speech is still in its developmental stage.
- A child stops biting when he or she has mastered speech, but hitting can continue for several years of early childhood.
- Fatigue causes most children to lose patience quickly. It may occur at certain times of the day or in specific situations.
- Consider the possibility that the child is reacting in this way to being treated poorly. Bullying and teasing very often occurs in a form that your child simply may not know how to handle. You need to refer to examples of such situations as you teach your child ways of communicating other than the use of force.
- Pay attention to how you yourself react to your own displays of anger. Use these moments to help you as you teach your child alternative ways of using force. For example, if you are angry at someone, use your hand as a puppet. “Okay, hand, you’re angry, but you’re not going to fight, okay?” It may look silly, but the child will get the point.
- Using words to define your own feelings will help your child better associate them with his or her own feelings. Say it out loud when you are upset, angry, or disappointed, because this will help the child understand that feelings are a normal reaction. Explain what you are going to do to feel better. For example: “I feel angry, but I will feel better after I take five deep breaths.”
- If your child watches other people, older children, or adults fighting, he is likely to assume that this is acceptable behavior. If you want to teach him the opposite, then you need to make sure that no one in your family fights each other, regardless of the reason.
- Grabbing something is a show of aggression by young children, and it often leads to hitting back. If one child tries to take an object from another, redirect this action by modeling a different mode of communication.
- There are educational books for children that demonstrate alternative forms of aggressive behavior that you can explore together. Look for books that use words and pictures that your child can understand.
- Ask your toddler to take a break or engage in another physical activity to distance him from the other child he wants to hit. For example, if he needs more physical activity, he can run around in an enclosed area (such as your garden or playground) to get rid of excess energy instead of hitting the other child.
- Don’t use too many words when your child is upset.
- Make sure you are calm enough before you initiate the start of the plan. This is a time of learning, but in no way a time of punishment.
- Stick to the plan. This will build trust between you and help the child feel safe.
- Don’t forget that you are acting as the child’s external emotional system, while his internal emotional system is still developing. Your voice and gestures should be calm.
- Don’t try to make the child feel guilty about the feelings he is experiencing. Praise him for restraining himself and not getting into a fight.
- Give the child ways to cope with a difficult situation. The child will feel calmer if he has a calming toy, breathing exercise skills, and safe territory.
- Try each of these methods ahead of time and make sure the right things are on hand. An anti-stress toy in a backpack will not save you in an emergency. Pick one that will fit in your child’s pocket, or use an ornament specifically designed for chewing.
- If you see something that might cause an unwanted reaction in your child, intervene and encourage your child to respond non-aggressively. If the child is overexcited, move him away from the annoying situation and let him calm down.  X Competent Source
- Consider positive encouragement if the child handles a difficult situation. For example, if he has a hard time with birthdays, consider motivation in the form of a toy if the child is successful at the party and doesn’t hit anyone.
- Teach your child positive touches. “High-five” or “shake hands” are good ways to touch other children or adults in a friendly way. Teach your child this ahead of time.
- Use participatory words to share his frustration over the lack of a toy. Sadness is a normal feeling and can be understood.
- Don’t use harsh or angry language if the child keeps demanding. Don’t give in, but don’t react aggressively either. Remember that the child’s anger will eventually pass.
- Adhering to the boundaries of decency provides security and comfort for the child in the long run. By giving your baby everything he wants regardless of behavior, you are not providing the parental protection that helps him feel safe.
- Always praise your child for exemplary behavior. If you only scold him for aggression, he is likely to continue to do so.
- Make sure your child knows you love him, even when he is misbehaving. A parent’s love is not required for good behavior.
- Anger is one of the most difficult emotions to control. Expect mistakes from your child as he learns new emotions.
- Children who get hit think they can hit others, too. Never spank a child, even if he has pissed you off.
- Don’t expect your child to express anger with words.
- ↑ Wits End Parenting. Parenting experts. Specialist recommendation. 5 March 2020.
About this article.
Contributor(s): Wits End Parenting. Wits End Parenting is a parent counseling organization in Berkeley, California that specializes in “temperamental” children who are impulsive, emotionally unstable, disobedient, with listening problems and aggressive. Wits End Parenting counselors help achieve discipline in a positive way, tailored to each child’s temperament, and achieve long-lasting results, saving parents from having to constantly reinvent discipline strategies. Number of views on this article: 5529.
My child hits other children. What to do?
In children’s conflicts, it is usually customary to feel sorry for the injured party. But what if the offender also suffers? Aggression in children is usually directly related to some kind of experiences that find their way out in this way. And if a child beats his peers, there is no need to shame or blame him – you need to try to find out what’s going on in his soul.
Psychologist at the “I’m a Parent” portal
Every parent sooner or later has to deal with situations where their child becomes a participant or even the instigator of a fight. This is a normal stage in the development of the child’s social skills. But often such actions cause moms and dads shame, guilt in front of others and, as a consequence, irritation and anger at the child. As a result, the atmosphere in the family is spoiled, and it affects everyone. So it’s better to find out right away what really happened, why it happened and what parents can do to prevent the situation from repeating itself.
First of all, it is necessary to take into account the age of the child. A young preschooler often uses force as an experiment: to find out how strong he or she is, and to check the reaction of the opponent. Besides, he or she does not yet know how it is possible to settle a conflict without the use of force. At school age, most children already know that fighting is not allowed. However, they still find it hard to control their negative emotions, so when rational arguments run out, fists are used.
It is also important to consider how often the child fights. If these are isolated incidents, the physical aggression could be just because the child has not yet been able to cope with his feelings during the argument. It is not necessary to scold him or her for it, and after discussing the case in private, it is not necessary to bring it up. If fights recur regularly, parents should pay special attention to it.
It is definitely worth being wary of if the child fights very often and at the same time enjoys inflicting damage on others.
In this case, physical aggression may have deeper reasons which need to be dealt with as soon as possible in order to avoid aggravation of the situation. For this purpose it is better to consult a psychologist.
Causes of “pugnacity”
There are three main causes of increased conflict in a child: family, peers and information from external sources.
The family for a child is his little world, where he first gets information about everything, including the rules and patterns of behavior. Conflicting behavior of parents within the family or in relation to others can become an example of a “norm” for the child, which he will imitate in communication in kindergarten or school. Therefore, before punishing your child for endless fights, it is worth analyzing how your family members behave in controversial situations.
The same example are the methods of education, adopted in the family. Some parents mistakenly believe that you have to respond to a child’s punch with the same punch, so that he understands that it hurts. However, this does not work, because the young child’s reasoning is very different. He thinks, “If mom hits me, then it’s a normal thing to do, so that’s what I have to do when I don’t like something. And then, of course, applies this principle in his or her communication.
The tendency to physical aggression can also be a consequence of the child’s protest against family rules. This is especially the case in families where upbringing is too restrictive, authoritarian, or, on the contrary, permissive.
Aggressive patterns of behavior may be borrowed by the child from external sources of information: films, cartoons, computer games or the TV programs he or she watches. Therefore the task of parents is to filter the information available to the child.
You can also highlight the following factors that provoke the child to start conflicts with others:
Of course, the actions of parents will vary depending on the specific situation. And before you scold or, on the contrary, justify your child, it is worth evaluating all the circumstances of the conflict that occurred. It is necessary to take into account the underlying cause, and not just the reason that caused the beginning of the dispute between the children.
It is possible to give general recommendations which will help parents to cope with the “difficult” behavior of the child:
- Don’t blame yourself for your child’s fighting. If he fights, it does not mean that you are bad parents. Of course, much in the development of your baby depends on you. But self-blaming is not the most effective way to solve problems. It takes too much energy, which is better spent on finding and eliminating the causes of difficulties.
- Learn yourself and teach your child to be aware of and accept your own emotions, and not to ignore them or accumulate them inside. To do this, you can spell out the difference between feelings and their expression. Let your child know that he or she has the right to feel hurt, angry or irritated in a conflict situation, but that hitting others is unacceptable.
- Educate by example. Children unconsciously imitate the actions of their parents. No matter what you say, the child sees how you behave. So if you want to change your child’s behavior, make sure you change it yourself first.
- Eliminate physical punishment. It’s important to show your child that using physical force is not an acceptable way to influence another person. You will only be able to show this by using this principle in your own life.
It is important to explain to the preschooler how he should behave and why, to teach him how to behave constructively. For this, it is best to use play methods (for example, playing out situations with the help of a puppet theater) or composing therapeutic fairy tales with characters similar to the kid himself. Of course, it is better to do this not at the moment of a conflict, but later, when emotions have settled down.
The schoolchild can already be asked his or her opinion about what he or she and the opponent felt, what he or she did wrong, what could have done better in the situation. At the end of the conversation it is necessary to fix an agreement about future similar situations (“If Vanya does this and that again, instead of fighting, you will answer him this or do that”).
It is better to give school-age children an opportunity to take responsibility for the damage caused: to apologize to the injured party on their own or to repair things damaged during the fight (to reimburse their cost).
In general, take any negative behavior of the child as a signal that he needs your help and support.
Perhaps he has encountered difficulties that he is unable to cope with on his own. Maybe he just doesn’t know how to express his own negative feelings that overwhelm him. Or maybe his life situation seems hopeless to him. If you can see behind this unflattering behavior what your child needs, it will be easier for you to understand him and help him.
The main thing – stay in touch with your child and let him know that no matter what you disapprove of his behavior, you do not stop loving him.
The material was prepared for our publication by the portal “I am a parent” as part of our joint monthly column. For more than seven years, the site “I’m a parent” helps moms, dads, grandparents and all those involved in raising children, to find a way to your child, to teach him only good things and together with him become better themselves! The portal gives advice on parenting, looking at the problem from different angles – both from the parents’ and the child’s point of view.