Monday, June 25, 2007

When Children Hit

When Children Hit


Hello. I have two of your books - A to Z and PD for Preschoolers and neither quite addresses our issue. On the topic of hitting you say: When your preschooler hits you, decide what you will do instead of trying to control your child. Let her know that every time she hits you, you will leave the room until she is ready to treat you respectfully. After you have told her this once, follow through without any words. Leave immediately. The thing is, if I try to do this, my son chases me (and his dad) out of the room, hitting all the while. I cannot leave without him hot on my heels. If I remove him (pick him up), he is kicking and screaming and will only stay somewhere if I lock him in. How do I approach this? Thank you for your time. Caroline


Hi Caroline, I experienced the same challenge with one of my children and used what Dreikurs called "the bathroom technique." I would go to the bathroom and lock the door. (If you decide to do this, be sure to have a good book to read.) The first time I did this I thought Dreikurs was nuts because my kids (two of them) followed me and were pounding on the door. One even slipped a note under the door. However, I stuck it out without saying a word, and pretty soon they went away. The next time they treated me disrespectfully (honestly can't remember what they did--it was so long ago--which shows how unimportant it is), I went to the bathroom again. This time the kids didn't follow me and they stopped their misbehavior.

There are two tricks to making this work:

1) During a calm time, let them know in advance what you are going to do. (Maybe during a family meeting.)
2) When you follow through don't say a word. No lectures. No threats. Just let them have their feelings.

It doesn't take them long to learn that if you say it you mean it, and if you mean it, you will follow through. This is a great model for them about how to treat themselves respectfully instead of trying to change someone else.

My best to you,
Jane Nelsen


Anonymous said...

I don't understand this method. I'm going through a similar situation. This technique, however, seems to suggest that anytime your child wants to make you leave, or have run of the house, all they have to do is hit you, and you'll go away. So, the child hits me, and I have to go in time-out? I do not mean to be disrespectful, I just want to understand.

Jane Nelsen said...

Positive Discipline has hundreds of valuable tools. This is just an example of one solution. If it doesn't work for you, then try another tool.

The keys are:

1. Agree in advance with your children what will happen.

2. Kindly and Firmly follow through.

You might decide with your child that if he/she hits, then that they will have to go into their room until they are ready to act more appropriately.

Anonymous said...

Leave an angry pre-schooler alone while you're in a locked bathroom? ARE YOU kidding?? Raised 4 kids, never did this technique. Very stupid.