Emma, my middle child likes to stomp, scream, and hit when she is mad.
She’s a threenager. And she can be vicious when she wants to be.
But even my older child resorts to hitting when her emotions boil over to the point of using action to express them. In fact, it can be really difficult to deal with because it’s so easy for kids of all ages to use force when they feel upset. But this positive parenting hitting advice helps ease the effects of those problems in order to lessen the hitting over time.
Don’t forget to find more information about the benefits of positive parenting on a child’s development here.
Why logical consequences and natural discipling are important
Logical consequences are the type of action that happens directly because of something else. So it is logical that a glass breaks when it hits the floor because it fell off the table. We can all expect that outcome. So the next time a glass falls from the table, we wouldn’t expect it to float.
Likewise, setting natural consequences means we’re directly addressing an issue and in this case hitting.
Positive parenting in the case of hitting includes not just looking for a trigger to the situation, but healthy outlets for kids to express the emotions to the stimulus.
What positive parents can do for a child who hits and is aggressive
- Affirm that they have big feelings that want to be expressed. Acknowledge how hurt or upset they feel. But remind them that feelings are not the same as actions. We choose to act on feelings.
- Help give them boundaries by framing what you want them to do rather than saying no or what you don’t want from them.
- Don’t force sorry, but encourage them by asking “how can you apologize and make it right?”
5 logical consequences or alternative solutions for hitting at any age
If a child uses their hands inappropriately, then there has to be a solution for how they can use their hands and/or a consequence for making a bad decision to use their hands against someone or something else.
Keep your hands in your pockets or fold your hands together
This is the most simple and basic of the logical consequences of hitting. In fact, we try to say something like “keep your hands to yourself” and the best way to do that is to make sure they’re not available to use.
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Seek a more physical extracurricular outlet
While our family would still seek out a natural consequence (especially if the hitting continued after repeat conversations), we would also seek out to find a time when hitting or swinging was actually allowed. This is also because if a child continued to hit someone or something else, the new directive would be “we must save hitting for ____”
- Marshall Arts
Or fill in the blank with another option that suits your child.
Refocus with a fidget toy
Finding a way to occupy a child’s hands in times of high stress to teach them appropriate ways to express their feeling or use their hands is also another way to immediately find another use for their hands.
Check out these hand fidgets!
We are personally fans of the wacky track and has grown with my kids… plus adults seem to play with it a lot too.
Find games at home that encourage Proprioceptive Input
Proprioception is understanding where one’s body is and is all about spatial awareness, muscle movement, etc.. Therefore offering input with a hitting and swinging motion like playing a piñata game or doing jumping jack where they clap their hands above their heads each time is just one way to help.
Plus, you could offer a weighted blanket or any number of powerful proprioceptive activities. And yes, they’re good for kids of all ages.
Maybe even think about getting some small bongo drums!
Implement high fives to celebrate good behavior
Sometimes our kids need physical contact because it’s their love language along with many other things (most notably feeling big emotions as mentioned before).
So when we take the time to recognize when they’re doing great instead of honing in on the times they slipped up, then it empowers our kids.
And for the kid that hits, opening up the door to appropriate hitting, this is huge!
Get the Positive Discipline Cheat Sheet
Need help reframing how you see or respond to situations with your kids? This cheat sheet will help you through some of those tough moments when you want to react with frustration instead of love. The sneak peek is below, but be sure to subscribe to download the full, printable version!
More resources on positive parenting and discipline
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!