When it comes to hitting toddlers, I keep reading and hearing the following "advice" – let’s call it by name: reproach – to the appropriate parents: "if my daughter were to hit, I would talk to her that it doesn’t work" …
I guess almost every adult talks to their child when they start to articulate themselves…
And that’s exactly the point: Why do small children hit??
Children hit for different reasons. Here are some of them:
1. Slashing is a means of communication:
Many children, and especially those who start speaking later, often communicate physically. From the outside it sometimes seems quite aggressive, but the child often only wants to say "Hello, I would like to play with you".
Admonishing the child at this point would be anything but helpful.
It would make more sense to accompany the children here. To translate your actions for others, to intervene with foresight, for example by gently, almost casually "redirecting" the striking limbs.
2. Hit children because they lack other problem-solving strategies:
When children are frustrated, their emotions quickly overwhelm them. The brain stem takes command and they fall into archaic patterns.
Incidentally, this also happens to adults regularly. With them, in contrast to the children, it would actually make me think.
In this case, it helps comforting (the child is overwhelmed, frustrated and in need), leading and accompanying.
There are very few children who can get along without scratching, scratching or biting. For some it is more, for others it is less. It is well known that people have different spirits.
3.Children are sometimes physically aggressive due to the corresponding role models and attacks they have experienced:
Either because they experience or see violence themselves, or because their right to self-determination is repeatedly overlooked and their integrity is not preserved.
This kind of aggression can be differentiated from childish striking on closer inspection by not focusing on the child’s behavior, but looking at the overall context.
Appropriate (therapeutic) support from all participants and a close look at the environment is necessary.
4. Another reason can be a kind of impulse reaction due to a lack of sensory integration:
In this case, the child does not “feel” properly or has a reduced frustration limit.
In this case, it is worthwhile to consult appropriate therapists or to practice sports such as capoeira, riding, swimming, climbing, etc..
5. The child’s integrity is at risk and it tries to protect itself:
If children feel pressured or threatened and their attempts to differentiate themselves and their voices are not increased, they defend themselves with the strategies available to them.
For adults, this is an invitation to pause, to reflect on themselves and to rethink their own behavior! Adults are always (!) Responsible for the quality of the relationship.
If there is a conflict between children and they are overwhelmed or communicate verbally or non-verbally that they need help, empathic support from those involved is essential.
6. You are looking for relationship and connection and want to be seen:
When children hit, adults are usually on the spot quickly. The children get attention. And yes, they often want that too. Or not?
What do they really want??
Children want to be seen! It is essential for their development and it ensures their survival. These mechanisms are deeply rooted in us. No child can survive without being noticed by adults. You are dependent.
Here we are particularly asked to relate and proactively convey to our children: I see you! I am connected to you!
The fact is:
Children don’t hit because they’re bad. Children also don’t cut because of loving accompaniment.
By always looking at behavior, we forget to focus on the underlying needs.
And by subtly making the parents understand that they are too lax in their upbringing, we are forming an educational culture that is based on disrespectful authority, leaving behind unsettled parents and "diagnosing" children.
I am the mother of a very physically communicating child and at the same time the mother of a very sensitive child. I know both sides because I experience the interaction every day. A big challenge where I can grow and learn a lot about myself …
Aida S. de Rodriguez
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