What to do when your child hits another child.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
One of my recent clients had an issue with her 10 year old son hitting someone in the playground. He vehemently denied it despite 3 other children seeing him do it.
Another of my teenage clients hit a teacher and got expelled. He began working with me before the start of the new school year as this was his 3rd new school. I wanted to help him learn more resourceful ways to handle his anger.
So what do you do, and what do you say to your child when you get home from school mortified, embarrassed, angry and confused as a parent.
The first place to start is to listen without judgement – as a Class Teacher for over 20 years I learnt not to jump the gun and wade in with what I thought had happened as sometimes I got it wrong. So I learnt to really listen attentively with my full undivided attention because I believe a child who feels heard feels understood.
You may find there were circumstances that you can empathise with but from here you need to lead your child into being more resourceful. You need to teach them how to handle their anger.
We all get angry, it’s normal, it’s healthy but it’s what you CHOOSE to do with your anger that’s important.
Use this experience to ‘Talk & Teach ‘ your child better ways to handle their anger.
Let them know that everyone gets angry at some time or another – it’s normal and it’s healthy as this will help your child accept and understand that anger is an honest emotion, but it’s what they choose to do with their anger that’s important. Talk about a time when you have been angry and what you did about it.
Teach them to not be afraid of their anger but to recognise when it’s coming, what triggers it and why it’s happening. Suppressing anger can lead to frustration, resentment, bitterness, a sense of hopelessness and depression which is not a good thing for your children long term. Girls are often taught unconsciously that getting angry ‘Isn’t what nice girls do’ and that can lead to all sorts of problems later on, including Post Natal Depression.
How do you teach your child to release their feelings safely?
One way is to press an imaginary internal ‘pause button’ (like the one on your DVD player) and teach your kids to ask themselves ‘What exactly am I annoyed or angry about?’ This helps your child to step back from the situation – getting them back in control and helping to calm themselves down. Really help them to imagine the DVD player in their hand as it’s a great way to remember to get back in control. Go and get a Remote and physically put in their hand and teach them to press it and then to physically take a step back as this will detach them for a split second from the situation and give them time to pause, ponder and CHOOSE what they do next. Practice it a few times until it feels natural.
Learning self control is a very important life skill.
Your kids will probably discover that they get wound up by the same things over and over again. So start to keep an anger diary so they start to notice their anger triggers. You can download my free anger diary here http://www.pinterest.com/TheSueAtkins/my-free-stuff/
Is it just when they are hungry or tired or running on empty just before dinner? Is it when they go into playground and the other children tease them ?
Is it perhaps that your child is still maturing and finds it hard to share, as they are still rather egocentric?
Ask your child what physical signs they get to warn them that they are about to “lose it”? Do they start to breathe faster, go red, feel like a volcano is about to erupt as it rises up their body from their tummy? By starting to notice their physical signs they are again getting back in control and stepping back from the situation which is much better. They are becoming aware of their triggers.
Teach them to ask themselves a more empowering and useful question: ‘What do I need to do now? ‘ as this helps them start focusing on a new solution to their frustration.
Teach them to relax and to start to breathe slowly and deeply – this takes the edge out of the anger. Teach them to walk away, or run around to release their high emotion, or get them to tell you some better strategies of their own to help them get back in control of their mood.
I teach the children I work with to ‘tap’ which is a strategy using Emotional Freedom Technique that is incredibly powerful and useful.
I worked for a day in a very tough school in Peckham where a number of the children were very challenging, confrontational and goading towards each other. So I taught a boy with anger issues to tap and initially he looked at me as if I was mad but after he had tapped out his anger he looked at me with a wide smile and said,’It’s gone!’
You can download my EFT Questions and Answers ebook for free here
If you’d like to work with me call me on 01883 818329
and here’s my article on How To Handle Anger Positively when your kids wind YOU up.