A boy hit a little girl and took her toy.
Me: “Did she give you the toy?”
Me: “Hmmm, hitting doesn’t work. You should try something else. Let’s check in on her, give it back and figure out a better plan.”
I don’t lecture, pressure, or shame. My words highlight the problem. Hitting doesn’t get you a toy.
Instead, I use his attention to work on problem-solving.
Me: You can ask, ‘Can I have it when you are done?’ When you are ready I can help you.
To the girl who got hit.
Me: “Yikes, that was a surprise. He is learning to use his words. If he comes back and asks for the toy you can say yes, no, or maybe later. I will be here to help him work on waiting or being disappointed. I will help you tell him what you want so you don’t have to be scared about getting hit. Hitting you is never a choice.”
Focusing a child’s attention on the specifics of a failed technique is key. If hitting didn’t get him the toy he is forced to develop or use a different response.
Coaching both children allows them to feel empowered. Showering a lot of “sorry” in this situation creates a FIXED impression that one child is a victim and the other a bully: both children are trapped by adult strategy.
Do this early on. It helps to correct this behavior earlier. In the event that hitting becomes the go-to asking for the toy is no longer a choice. “If you hit, you have lost the privilege to play with it. If you hit her you have lost the privilege of playing close by.”
The hitter does the work of repairing. learning appropriate problem solving and respecting others.
The hittee gets support being heard, not wavering, and demanding respect.
Remember, as children grow hitting, biting, and yelling will morph into whining, sass, intimidation, and coercion. If we support both children constantly then one won’t have an advantage over the other.
This I rarely a one-and-done fix. You have to commit to nurturing this growth.
What do you think?
Need home or school support? I am happy to help!