If Your Child Hits Others…

If the child hits others at the age of 1-2, what could be the reason?

There are two main reasons for hitting behavior. One of them is the developmental characteristics of the child, and the other is external factors.

He thinks that the world revolves around him and that he can control everything. He gets upset when he can’t control it as much as he would like and responds in unacceptable ways such as hitting, biting, throwing. A child does not necessarily have to have experienced this behavior in order to learn to hit. Negative attitudes are characteristic of children’s age and sometimes their gender.

One of the most important features of egocentrism is that the child is selfish, unable to fully grasp that others have feelings, thoughts, wishes and expectations and cannot empathize with the other person.

Another reason for hitting behavior is the inability of children to control their impulses. An adult may not do what he goes through by controlling himself if the environment is not suitable. However, it is not possible to see the same attitude in young children. They do their best right away.

A 1-2 year old child does not have the foresight to see and predict the result of his behavior. He sees that the other person is crying because it hurts, and he gets upset about it. However, there is no foresight that he should not hit in order not to hurt and upset him.

Humans are born with aggressive tendencies that ensure their survival. However, social skills are not innate, they are acquired over time. The acquisition of social skills takes place at the age of 3 and beyond.

Since 1-2 year old children do not have the language skills to express their feelings and solve problems by speaking, they respond to a negative situation by hitting them.

A 1-2 year old child who is curious about everything and tries to research and learn by experimenting can also try to shoot him because he is curious about cause-effect relationships. When a child hits one of his peers, he sees that he is crying.

     External factors:Aggression tendency increases in children whose basic needs such as insomnia and hunger are not met or these needs are delayed.

An uneasy lifestyle change, such as the arrival of a new baby at home, a change of caregiver, a long separation from parents, also makes the child aggressive.

A child who does not get enough attention when behaving well may try to get attention by hitting.

The harsh and aggressive attitudes of people in the child’s close environment, such as parents, caregivers, siblings, may increase the tendency of aggression in the child.

A child in an over-controlled environment may show hitting behavior due to disappointments.

Aggressive behaviors can also be seen in children who do not set any limits.

Depression of the parents, use of alcohol or addictive drugs, frequent arguments and fights of the parents cause the child to worry and show his anxiety by displaying aggressive attitudes.

* How should parents approach the child in this situation?

Parents should be calm in the face of hitting behavior and verbally state that it is unacceptable behavior. The child should be told that his behavior is not appropriate, and this issue should not be overemphasized. However, it should be stated each time that the behavior is repetitive and that it is not appropriate. Detailed explanations and advices are useless because the attention and listening periods of 1-2 year old children are not long. The instructions to be given to children of this age should be simple, plain and understandable.

* If a child who hits his parents or other people or friends, if his parents also hit him, how will it affect the child and what will be the consequences?

Striking, whether violently or lightly, on the butt or on the hand, increases the behavior rather than decreases it. The easiest and healthiest way to explain to the child that hitting is an inappropriate behavior is not to hit him. Because for children, everything their parents do or say is true. Parents who try to tell their children not to be hit by hitting them are giving the wrong message to their children. Especially children at this age do not have the mental maturity to grasp the understanding of “do as I say, not as I do”.

Parents hitting the child also causes the child to learn to hit as a problem-solving method. Children who grow up with beatings use the same method when raising their own children.

Parents’ response by hitting the child causes the child’s trust in both his parents and himself to be shaken.

* If a solution is not found for the child’s hitting habit, what effects will this have on his future social development?

Sometimes parents can teach a child to hit as a form of self-defense. They think that a child who learns to shoot will become a successful person who can protect himself in the future. In reality this is not so. Because children who harm others are not accepted by their friends, teachers and other adults. Failure to resolve or reinforce the hitting behavior causes the child to have difficulty in establishing social relations, to isolate from his environment, to be friends with people who behave like himself and to be in inappropriate environments.

* What are your suggestions for the child to give up the hitting habit? What can parents do?

  • Never react by hitting the child who shows hitting behavior. This causes the behavior to be reinforced rather than reduced. Children often imitate the behavior of their parents.

  • When he hits, warn him by saying “nobody gets hit”. Repeat this every time.

  • Avoid harsh behaviors such as pulling or hitting when you are under stress (such as getting somewhere, trying to get food).

  • Make sure that the rules and boundaries you set are clear and appropriate for the child’s age and skills. Excessive or no rules make the child aggressive.

  • The hitting behavior increases in the child who is constantly blocked. Instead of saying “no”, offer him alternatives.

  • Reward every positive behavior by saying “well done, bravo” and applauding.

  • Make sure your child is not tired, sleepless, hungry or sick.

  • Do calming activities such as singing, dancing, reading a book.

  • Let him calm down by removing him from his environment.

  • Whenever you think it can hit, try to stop the behavior before it happens.

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