When Your Child's Behavior is Hurtful

What can we do when harm comes from a child's unsafe behavior happening right within our own home?

Many parents are panicked and feel defeated when their young children exhibit behaviors liking biting, hitting, kicking and tantrums. The embarrassment, shame and fear of our child hurting others can be unbearable. While at times these are developmentally and age appropriate there comes a time when a child is supposed to grow out of them. Whether age appropriate or not, people can get hurt. What can we do to stop them from behaving like this?

Biting, hitting, kicking, screaming, whining - and everything that makes us as parents cringe - are all communication.

Our children are telling us something. Some times it's very apparent what they are communicating and other times we might have absolutely no clue.

If we want these behaviors to subside then as parents we help them identify their need and then show them how to meet that need and/or communicate more effectively and safely to get help.

This process is a ton of work! It is labor intensive, time consuming and draining. There are other easier methods that involve coercion, control, shaming or dominating, but these methods are not effective on all children or behaviors and, in fact, will make some children more aggressive and more unsafe. The respectful process of helping a child identify and communicate needs in order to meet them is helpful to all children and will absolutely improve the situation for all involved.

To make this easier, there are books you can share with your child. These aren't the only books out there, but we recommend the Best Behavior Series by Elizabeth Verdick. There are board books for younger children and soft cover books for older children, but each includes the part you read with your child and then helpful suggestions for parents and caregivers in the back. There are titles like..

Hands are Not for Hitting

Feet are Not for Kicking

Teeth are Not for Biting

Voices are Not for Yelling

Words are Not for Hurting

And more.

A list of additional books with suggested conversations addressing needed skills and solutions to common triggers can be purchased here. If you need or want help implementing these and more suggestions there are offerings to help you to keep yourself, your child, their siblings and others safe during this process. This is especially helpful if your child is older and the behavior is no longer considered age appropriate. You may want to check out...

Beating Disaster

Raising Nonviolent Children is a module in the Mama Bear PREPARED online course offering moms information, tools and support to keep safe and replace concerning and unsafe behaviors.


Some ADDITIONAL RESOURCES that may be helpful include...

Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guild for Parents Whose Child is More... By Mary Kurcinka

How to Talk so Little Kids will Listen: A Survival Guide... by Joanna Faber

Podcasts and groups by Janet Lansbury

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