My 7-year-old, who never hit, now hits out of anger. No one in our house hits, but all of the sudden she hits in a rage, and it hurts! If you have any ideas on how to address this behavior peacefully without punishment I would love to read them. Thank you!
It’s important to invite her to talk about what’s going on and work with her on what you two can do together to help her work through her feelings of overwhelm and express herself without hitting. So, sometime when you’re both calm, cuddled up and connected you might have a conversation that sounds something like this…
Have there been any changes at home?
- Have there been any changes in the family?
- Have there been any changes in her community (school, friends, etc.)?
“Sienna, I know it’s a big change to move to a new bedroom. I’m wondering how you’re feeling about it?” (Listen to her, empathize, and allow her to feel/think these things without trying to fix anything) “Is there something we can do to help you feel better or less overwhelmed?” (Try to implement her ideas if at all possible no matter how improbable they may seem to you. Listen to her, empathize, and allow her to feel these things without trying to fix anything).
Also, I can never emphasize enough the importance of connection. When our children feel disconnected from us they often show us through their behavior. And, of course, the best way to connect with them is to play with them. I wrote an article about play here, and you can get lots of creative play ideas at Play At Home Mom (our sister blog/site) and other online child-centered creative play sites. The important thing to remember is to have uninterrupted time with just her, even if it’s only for 30 minutes a day where you do what she wants to do without a cell phone, computer, or other distractions. One woman told me that she used bath time to focus on her child, play, and connect. Use whatever time you can!
Finally, it’s important to pay attention to the environment of your home, the rhythm and scheduling in your family, and the amount of adult media your daughter may be exposed to. You can learn more about the effects these factors have on children’s emotions and behaviors on the Simplicity Parenting website, or in Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting.
Here are some book recommendations for working with children: