It is the most tricky moment in a parent’s life when your kid hits another kid. You want to protect the one who is being hit but physical intervention cannot tackle the emotional and physical harm.
1. Console both kids
Console the kid who has just gotten hit and explain to them that it was not their fault and they did not deserve to be hit. Intervene right way and separate both the kids. The trick is to help the kid who hit understand why hitting is wrong. Hitting is not a means of expression that is acceptable and so the kid needs to learn other ways of expressing.
2. Self-motivated Self-Regulation
Just barring your kid from hitting another will not do the task. It takes guidance and learning. You have to teach your kid patience and understanding about emotions. They must know how their body reacts when in anger or when upset. Self-regulation means moving above impulses and choosing ways of expression without repressing the emotions.
3. Not Fear-Motivated Self-Regulation
The easier way of doing things is scaring your kid to the extent that they know the consequences of ever hitting someone else. But that won’t work over time. The kid will take out that repressed emotion in other ways. Instead you have to be their learning partner in self-regulation. If your kid sees you act out violently, they will learn to do the same. So, ensure that there is no such atmosphere of hitting at your home.
4. Discuss alternatives
Teach your kid what to do when they are frustrated or angry. They need to know that it is not their feelings that are wrong but their outburst and the method of expression. Tell them to call on you whenever they feel like they are in a situation where they might impulsively hit someone. Don’t be mad if your child does not understand. It takes some time to adjust to things and so, anticipate another hit. Keep your eye on the child and repeat same thing empathetically. Intervene before he hits someone if you can and instead of scolding, talk to him the next time your kid does something.
5. Use words that make them know you are understanding
To the kid that got hit you can say, “I’m sorry you’re hurt. It’s no fun to be hit. I can see you’re upset. It’s natural to be upset and cry if someone hits you. I get upset and cry too. I’m here for you.”
Then to the other kid, you can say “You were so upset they did this to you. I’m so sorry that happened to you. It’s totally natural to feel upset and to express it. I know that’s why you hit your sibling. I get upset sometimes too. I’m here for you.”