Kids who hit are simply feeling powerless. Now I know it probably doesn’t FEEL simple to you – it totally rattles my cage too, when I see my kids hit. SO many emotions can come rushing in for us as parents when we see our kids hitting!
Those emotions can make it hard to think clearly when relating with our kids, and being overwhelmed by emotion can definitely lead us to doing things we really don’t like, things we wouldn’t have chosen, had we felt FREE to choose.
Here’s the thing, when it comes to parenting, feeling free to choose can only come when you have simple tools that you can pull out of your back pocket, no matter how stressful the situation. These tools support you to problem-solve, support your child to experience success and free up your brain to SEE an abundance of possibilities.
That’s where I come in, a parenting coach who teaches an incredible, ground-breaking parenting model called Language of Listening®
Stick with me, because in this post I’m outlining EXACTLY how to deal with kids who hit in a way that STICKS, and in a way that you will feel proud of!
To do that, I’m going to focus on those powerless feelings that are resulting in your kids hitting.
There are 3 levels of dealing with this issue. Each deeper than the next and each only necessary in certain situations.
Level 1: Coaching your child to express their emotions within your boundaries using SAY WHAT YOU SEE® and CAN DOs
This is the in-the-moment level that is all about holding boundaries and equipping our kids with the possibilities for expressing their emotions. Our kids DEFINITELY need our support with this – especially since the boundaries here are our own. Kids aren’t mind-readers so we assume the position of coach to guide them through.
SAY WHAT YOU SEE® is your way to connect with the child and get them understood. You do this by reflecting back to them anything you see them saying, doing, thinking, or feeling with no judgments or opinions attached.
CAN DOs are our boundary-holding tool that you use invite the child into problem-solving. The problem to be solved is finding a way for them to meet the child’s Need in a way you BOTH like.
Phrases that are commonly used at this level would sound like this:
SWYS: "You’re feeling SO MAD you hit your sister!"
BOUNDARY: "And people aren’t for hitting."
CAN DO: "Must be something you can hit to get the mad out without anyone getting hurt."
This level is for anytime hitting shows up and can usually solve the issue of infrequent hitting on its own.
Level 2: Providing regular, easy, and predictable ways for your child to meet their Need for Power.
Kids who regularly experience feelings of powerlessness are regularly acting IT out (or simply “acting out” as many people would say). That means you can help them overcome this challenge faster by helping them find consistent opportunities to meet that Need within your boundaries.
This Need is all about feeling capable, like your child has something to offer the world, and like they have some level of control over their life. Here are some super-helpful ideas I share with my clients who want to support their kids in meeting this Need:
1) Set up a board game “date” once a week with your child where they get to make up the rules. Also, let them win if they want. You determine that want by asking “Do you want me to play hard or easy?” Don’t consider it cheating – you are not teaching your child it is ok to cheat, you are allowing them to experience being a winner and feeling powerful. They will want to increase the challenge as time goes on by sometimes asking you to play hard and other times choosing to play by the rules. You can trust in their goodness.
2) Find something your child can be all the way in charge of, something that contributes to the family. Many of my clients have had a great experience putting their little one in charge of putting away the groceries. Whether they get to boss everyone around, telling them where things go, or they get to put everything away, themselves, experiencing how capable they are. (You can go back later and shift things that are out of place). A combination of both works well for some families.
3) Incorporate Mini-Power Playtimes into your week. These are 15 minute playtimes I teach my clients to do with their kids. They fast-track your learning of the Language of Listening® tools; plus, when you see them start to meet your child’s Needs, you’ll see your child showing up a calmer, more cooperative version of themselves. They get to be in the lead during these times. You can get a head-start using these playtimes by signing up for my email list HERE. These playtimes absolutely saved our mornings this year before school as they handled my daughter’s school anxiety in 10 – 15 peaceful mins each morning.
This level is for times when the Need for Power is regularly being met in ways that do not fall within your boundaries. People cannot just “stop” themselves from meeting Needs, including children. If a child is regularly pushing the same limits over and over, that is a clear message, one you can coach them through using these tools. This level and the next should always be combined with the first level.
Level 3: Checking in to see if the Need for Power is showing up as a stand-in for the Need for Connection.
When a child is having a hard time meeting their Need for Connection in easy and predictable ways their survival instincts will kick in and they will switch to meeting their Need for Power to compensate. That’s because Connection = Survival for children, and if Connection isn’t happening at the level they need it to, they will feel that their survival depends solely on them – then they REALLY need proof that they are capable and they will definitely start to act that Need out!
What works amazingly-well, here, is those mini-power playtimes again. That’s because in those playtimes the child is in the lead and will meet whatever Need feels the most important at that time. (There are 3 Needs we look for in Language of Listening®: Experience, Connection, and Power) When it came to school anxiety, it was clear through her play, that my daughter was needing to meet both the Need for Power and the Need for Connection. This made a lot of sense to me because she really didn’t like having to be without me all day at school. She would meet those 2 Needs powerfully in those 15 minutes and got ready for school like a champ right after!
Supporting our kids to meet their Needs within our boundaries is our job and our honor as parents and it really does make for kids who rarely have to “act out” those challenges. We ALL show up as better versions of ourselves when it is easy and predictable to get our Needs met. You and I can work together to get your kids there.
Equipping you with the tools to support your kids and yourself to get Needs met within your boundaries is one of the core pieces of my 12 week program for moms who want kids who listen without yelling, threats, or punishment. Learning to use these tools in your unique parenting situation can yield noticeable results immediately and then grow to yield results that last for the rest of your life and your child’s life too! It can be hard to remember what life was like before Language of Listening® for those who truly dive in and learn the model.
During the program we use the 3 core tools of the model to get you to a place where you do feel free to CHOOSE the way you relate with your kids whether things are feeling easy OR hard. And when you are free to choose you will always choose what you like and what you love – getting you to the place where you LOVE the way you parent!
If this sounds like the path you would like your family and your motherhood to follow, send me a message through the form on the bottom of THIS PAGE and we can see if you’re a good fit for the program! Just tell me more about your kids, their ages, and what the main area is that you’d like help with, and we’ll go from there!