by Faber & Mazlish
No More Spanking:
But there seems to be this assumption that kids *prefer* easy
solutions like punching their sister, or shooting someone with a gun.
That they have an innate draw to violence. And it's as if parents
believe they need to squash that innate need any way they can, not
give it any fodder to encourage it, until the kid can prove they can
suppress the desire for such choices.
Kids don't prefer to hit their sisters. They just don't have the
emotional development or the experience to get more complex solutions
to work for them. They have needs they want to meet. They need
assistance in meeting those needs in ways that are respectful. They
need to see loads and loads of peaceful solutions to their problems
before they begin grasping how to do it themselves.
Depends. If more hitting is likely, the first thing will be to gently as
possible physically prevent any further hitting. If the hitting is over,
not ongoing, the first thing might be to say, "Whoa - what's going on?"
Lots of times I wouldn't address the actual hitting until maybe later.
I'd help resolve whatever issue led to it. Later, I might say to the
hitter, when everything is calm, "You got so frustrated you hit your
sister." I'd wait and see what the reaction is to that. We'd just talk,
calmly, about why he did that and not something else, or maybe how it
felt just before he hit and what else he might do when he feels that way.
Exception to this would be if this is a frequent occurrence. In that
case, I might have had this conversation multiple times already and I
might have said, at some point, "When you hit, the hitting becomes the
problem, instead of what your original problem was." And, if we'd gotten
to that point, I might NOT deal with the current issue, but immediately
say, "Hitting gets in the way of problem solving." Especially if the
child is continuing to try to hit, I would not move on to trying to
discuss the current problem until the hitter was clearly ready and
willing to do that without hitting anymore.
The MAIN thing I'd do is be more present and watch for myself what is
leading up to it. Then I'd talk to the kids about what I observed and
we'd brainstorm ways to avoid it. It might be that it is over younger
kids grabbing toys away from the older ones, for example, since that's a
frequent cause of a 6 year old hitting a 4 year old. So that would be
the focus - how can the older kids have a safe place to play without the
younger ones being a nuisance?