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.
At times these are developmentally and age appropriate, and eventually children most often grow out of them. Whether age appropriate or not, people can get hurt. What can we do to speed along the process, so they stop hurting others?
Biting, hitting, kicking, screaming, whining - and everything that makes us as parents cringe - are all communication.
Our children are telling us something. Sometimes 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 as well as help your child to become a healthier, happier human being.
There are helpful books you can share with your child. These are some of the only books out there we recommend (find out why we can't feel good about all of the other many children's books here). This Best Behavior Series by Elizabeth Verdick has board books for younger children (ages 4 & under) and soft cover books for older children (suggested for ages 4-7 though we use these for even older children as well), but each includes part to read with your child and then helpful suggestions for parents and caregivers in the back. There are titles...
Hands are Not for Hitting Board Book Paperback
Feet are Not for Kicking Board Book Paperback
Teeth are Not for Biting Board Book Paperback
Tails are Not for Pulling Board Book Paperback
Voices are Not for Yelling Board Book Paperback
Words are Not for Hurting Board Book Paperback
Germs are Not for Sharing Board Book Paperback
A list of additional books with suggested conversations addressing needed skills and solutions to common triggers can be found 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.
While the above books are incredibly helpful, your situation may feel more dire. Whether you have or do not have diagnosis codes, it can be more complex for some children and their parents, especially if your child is older and/or the behavior is not considered appropriate. Whether your child is considered neurotypical or not, the parent that needs more help can find it here:
Raising Nonviolent Children, a module in the Mama Bear PREPARED online course, offers moms information, tools and support to keep safe and replace concerning and unsafe behaviors with healthy and effective communication. Be empowered with all that's in your control in helping your child be and do better.
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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