Toddlers & Hitting: What To Do?
Have you ever gone to a play date, play group, birthday party, dinner party, or other kind of social gathering where you have noticed a child pushing, hitting, or biting other kids?
Do you intervene or let the children try to work things out themselves?
Personally, I feel awkward having to step up and say something. I always feel like it’s not my place to discipline other people’s children. Unless it’s in my classroom, and in which case I feel it is fine to teach them what kind of behaviour is acceptable and unacceptable in the classroom. Otherwise (in other social settings), if the parent is present, I’d expect them to speak to their child.
I usually wait for the parents to tell their children not to throw that plastic fire truck at little Jimmy or that we do not hit little Sammy on the head with a toy hammer. If the parent does not do anything, I usually take the toy away and firmly tell the child that hitting hurts or that throwing toys is dangerous and not nice.
It is try that children learn the laws of the playground very quickly. They learn the natural pecking order (as awful as that sounds). Some kids emerge as leaders of the pack, others are happy to follow, while others enjoy doing their own thing. They learn how to interact, socialize, share, and participate in group activities. Unfortunately, they also pick up the not so pleasant things too.
Our 22 month old is very social, yet enjoys “independent play” as well. She was a preemie and is smaller than all the kids her age. She gets pushed around by some of the bigger kids, but that doesn’t seem to faze her. She continues to play and to do whatever it was she was doing. Kids seem to seek her out because she’s the smallest and they try to bully her. For some reason, she usually just ignores them. When they snatch her toys away from her (yes, even in her own house), she moves onto something else and doesn’t seem perturbed.
One of the hardest things about being a parent is letting your kids learn things on their own. Of course, we have to teach them what is acceptable and what is not, but watching them go through things and not hovering is a bit difficult for this Mama to take.
I have noticed that recently she has started pushing. This is something she picked up from a few of the other children. What a nightmare. It’s been a challenge teaching her that hands are not for pushing and we do not push other people. It’s constant reinforcing and I’ve even had to divert her attention onto other things when I see that she is about to push someone because she is being bullied by that person.
I’ve just ordered Hands Are Not For Hitting from Chapters. “It’s never too soon for children to learn that violence is never okay, hands can do many good things, and everyone is capable of positive, loving actions.” I’d like to teach Little One this as early as possible. For safe measure, I also ordered Teeth Are Not For Biting, Words Are Not For Hurting, and Feet Are Not For Kicking. You know…Just in case.
Christine is member of the BornFree Mom Panel.
As a parent, do you have any issues with stepping in when a child (that is not yours) hits another child? Or do you feel it is not your place and that that child’s parents should deal with the issue themselves?
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