How to Help Your Child Stop Hitting and Pushing Holt Boyd Podcast

Weekly Radio Show Thursdays at 12:35 PM on KBRX, 102.9 FM.

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Fit and Healthy Kids - An Early Childhood Podcast (with music).

(LaDonna Werth) Hello from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nebraska Extension Educators LaDonna Werth and Lisa Poppe are here to talk with you about early childhood - what's new and what's happening and what's for you.

Like many parents and caregivers, you may have found yourself in a situation where, despite your best efforts, your child continues to hit and push you or other children. Lisa how do we ever begin to address this issue?

(Lisa Poppe) Well, to address this behavior, it is important to understand that your child has his own opinions and probably wants to do more things for himself, yet he may not have the language skills or the impulse control to make those things happen. This experience can be frustrating for him and his first reaction might be to hit or push. Young children often express difficult emotions such as frustration, anger or embarrassment by acting out physically. Many children do not know a different way to handle difficult emotions.

(LaDonna Werth) Parents often express to me they are embarrassed by their child hitting others.

(Lisa Poppe) Yes, it is very common for Parents to feel embarrassed by this behavior and frustrated when it continues. When parents spank, laugh or ignore the hitting and pushing, they are telling their child that it is acceptable to hit and push. New behaviors that the child can use instead of hitting need to be taught and modeled by parents and caregivers. With patience and time, you can teach your child appropriate ways to handle disappointment and frustration that will allow him to feel confident and successful when playing with friends and siblings.

(LaDonna Werth) What are some ways parents can help their children at home.

(Lisa Poppe) One way is books….Read the book Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi. This story helps children understand why they feel like hitting and teaches things they can do instead. This book helps the child understand how to use her hands in an appropriate way. Teach your child about her emotions. Notice and label a variety of feelings. “I see that you are getting angry. Your hands are in fists and your face is scrunched up! You can tell me that you are mad, but you can’t hit me. You can also trace your child’s hands on a piece of paper and place them on the wall. Teach her to push on the paper on the wall when she is frustrated or disappointed. With enthusiasm, tell her, “You are getting out that frustration in your body! What a great way to deal with your feelings!” Tell your child what she can do! You can say to her, “When you are frustrated, you can scream into a pillow, push on the wall or say “help please.”

(Lisa Poppe) Children learn safe and healthy ways to express their emotions through stories, puppets or role playing. At school or at childcare, teachers also post class rules showing children that we keep our friends, selves, and toys safe. If a child hits or pushes another child at school or childcare, teachers first give attention to the child who is injured and have the other child help her feel better. This could include getting an ice pack, offering her a hug or bringing her a stuffed animal to hold. Once the injured child has been helped and everyone is calm, teachers talk to the child who hit. Together, they talk about how he was feeling and think of a different way he could have handled the situation.

(LaDonna Werth) What is the bottom line with this aggressive behavior.

(Lisa Poppe) The bottom line…..Aggressive behavior, like hitting or pushing, happens when a child does not know how to handle strong emotions. While parents must tell their child that hitting and pushing are not ok, it is also important for parents to teach a new behavior that he can use instead when he feels angry, frustrated or embarrassed. Parents can help children learn new, positive ways to solve problems or express feelings before aggressive behavior is likely to occur.

(LaDonna Werth) This has been great advice today. Hitting can be a common problem with young children. By using these strategies we have heard today along with practice and encouragement, children can feel confident managing their body and emotions.

Fit and Health Kids is a co-production of Nebraska Extension, Georgia Extension, Kansas State Extension, South Dakota State Extension and the Iowa Childcare Resource and Referral (with music).