This post may contain affiliate links. Read my whole disclosure here.
Limited time: The 5-step strategy to setting effective limits with your child
Download the strategy that will help you set limits with calm and empathy, and encourage kids to follow your guidance without threats or punishments!
Click here to download the free guide!
Inside: Have you ever wondered what to do when your child hits you? Here is a peaceful and effective way to respond when dealing with children aggression that worked great for us!
It was Saturday morning and we were preparing for a weekend family getaway. I was very excited about it but my son had a completely different attitude.
He woke up in a bad mood and hardly ate his breakfast.
I tried to cheer him up by telling him about all the awesome things that we could do together that weekend. But this only seemed to make things worse.
He kept repeating that he doesn’t want to go on the trip with us. It was a trip that we planned in advance and he always seemed happy about it. But not that morning.
As I was trying to convince him to get ready to go he became angrier. He refused to get dressed or pack toys for the trip.
He started throwing his clothes on the carpet. I went close to him and asked him to pick them up.
He looked at me with an angry face.
“I don’t want to go with you! I don’t want!”, he yelled.
I got down at his eye level and tried to calm him down. But before I could say anything I heard him yell again and he hit me hard with both his arms.
I stopped him by gently grabbing his arms.
“I see that you are very angry right now. But I can’t let you hit me!”, I said.
For a while, he kept trying to hit me. And I kept telling him that I’m there for him and that I want to help him.
Slowly, his anger was replaced by tears. He stopped attacking me and laid on the floor. Tears were rolling down his cheeks but he refused to talk and he wouldn’t let me hug him.
We both sat there in silence for a while. Then he came closer to me and put his head on my lap. I wiped the tears on his face.
He started telling me that he was sad that we were going on a trip that weekend because he will miss a friend’s birthday and the weekly playdate at the park. He never told me about this before. And it really helped me understand the reason behind his anger.
“Do you still want to hug me?”, he asked after he finished talking.
“Of course I do!”, I answered and made room for him to cuddle in my arms.
He apologized for hitting me. I could see that he was really sorry! We discussed better ways to deal with his anger next time and we even agreed to bring a special gift for his friend from our trip.
After this conversation, he dressed up, packed his toys for the trip, and was ready to leave the house in less than 20 minutes. Just in time for me to pack the snacks and be ready for the trip!
Just as we were going out of the door he handed me a little dinosaur toy.
“This is for you, mom! I’m happy that we go on a trip!”, he said.
I knew that it was his way to show me once again that he was sorry for what happened. I smiled at him and he smiled back. For the first time after a long morning, there was a smile on both our faces.
Why do children hit
My son is 5 now and these moments of aggression are rare now but they used to be more often during his toddlerhood. So I wanted to understand his behavior and find gentle ways to deal with it.
For young kids, aggressive behavior is a physical way of communicating when they cannot express their feelings into words. If they are frustrated, upset, hungry or tired, their emotional state has a huge impact on their behavior.
This is why in many situations kids act aggressively towards their parents.
Aggressive behavior is normal for young kids as they learn how to deal with their emotions. The best way for parents to help is to offer them the support they need to manage their emotions and find better ways to express them.
credit photo: Africa Studio / shutterstock.com
What to do when your child hits you
Responding to aggression in an aggressive way (like yelling or punishing) only makes things worse! The child doesn’t get the help they need and this leads to more frustration and anger.
This is why dealing with aggression in a peaceful way can make a huge difference for both the child and the parent.
If you ever wondered what to do when your child hits you, here are 3 easy steps to use anytime you deal with this behavior.
1. Stop the behavior
The first step is to gentle stop the aggression by stopping your child from hitting you. The child needs to know that being aggressive is not the right way to express their feelings.
A simple phrase like “I see that you are angry but I won’t let you hit me” is a great way to show that you care while still setting a limit.
2. Accept the feelings
It’s very important to let kids know that all feelings are acceptable! They have the right to feel upset or angry and talk about their emotions.
They also need to learn how to behave when they are overwhelmed by these emotions and it’s the parent’s job to teach them this.
- “I know that you were very angry and this is why you hit me. I’m here if you want to talk about it.”
- “I see how upset you are. Let’s talk about this!”
- “Let’s take a moment to calm down and see how you feel.” (I use this phrase when my son is very angry and I use time-in to help him calm down and open up to me about his feelings.)
3. Teaching kids better ways to deal with intense feelings
Kids can’t process any information while they are in an intense emotional state. This is why lecturing kids while they have a tantrum or they are very angry doesn’t work.
First, you need to wait for your child to calm down and let them know that you understand their feelings. Then you can discuss better ways to deal with intense emotions and teach your child how to react differently next time.
You can also create a calm down kit to help your child overcome difficult moments easier.
You can find more helpful tips about dealing with children’s intense feelings here: How to help young kids deal with strong emotions in a gentle way.
credit photo: Africa Studio / shutterstock.com
We used this simple method ever since my son was a toddler and it was very helpful! It allowed me to be a gentle parent while still setting limits and teaching him to handle his emotions better.
I hope that it will help you too and bring more peace and connection to your home!
More on what to do when your child hits you
- When your toddler hits you: a new perspective (a very helpful article by Hand in Hand Parenting)
- When Your Child Hits You (great advice from AHA Parenting)
More from Playful Notes
- 4 positive parenting books for raising happy and confident kids
- What to do instead of punishments? 5 gentle ways to discipline young kids
>> Want to remember this? Share these ideas to your favorite Pinterest board!
photo credit preview photo: Alena Ozerova / shutterstock.com