Friday, June 10, 2011

What do I do when my kids hurt someone??

A sweet Facebook peep wrote me this morning and asked me if I've ever had any of my kids act out in a temper tantrum and if so what advice I'd give her. MY KIDS??? Oh nooooo... Of course not... they are perfect little angels... ehhh hem.. ok maybe I they have hit, pinched, bitten, kicked, tripped and FEW others things. BUT other than that they are so GENTLE. Hee hee.. I asked her if I could share my response with you because we all know us Mommas gotta stick together. These questions of what to do are challenging and are something I have truly struggled through to find answers on how to help my cutie pies not be little terrorists. Here is my answer to her...

Hi there!! I have dealt with that with all of them at one point or other actually!!!

The most effective thing I've done is that whenever they hurt someone I pull them aside and I say something along the lines of, "People are NOT for hurting. People are to love. How would your heart feel if "insert hurt persons name" hurt you like that? Would you be sad?? Please talk to "hurt person" about how you feel about hurting her."

THAT is the first step. If they hurt someone again soon after we've discussed this I tell them very kindly the SAME thing all over again but then say very sweetly, "You come be with mommy. You are having trouble being with other people without hurting them."

At first they usually even love this. Often their behavior might be because they need to settle down and get some good attention. I don't just stay still though. They hold my pocket or stay right with me and help me do whatever I happen to be doing. Soon enough they will want to go do something else and I will say VERY sympathetically, "I REALLY WISH YOU COULD BUT YOU CAN'T right now." They will ask why usually. I'll say, "It's Mommy and Daddy's job to make sure NOBODY hurts anybody in this family. Should I let anyone hurt you?? Should I let anyone hurt Zoe?" I go through the whole family. Then ask them, "Did you hurt someone in this family today?? Should I let you hurt our family?" (Always make sure to wait for their responses and stay open, kind and sympathetic. We want this to be a discussion not a lecture.)

OR if it's someone else not in the family I go with it's my job to make sure all the people in this family are safe people and don't hurt children... Or whatever... You see the trend.

Anyway, this usually turns a light on and they will seem to get it. I will say, "If I let you go play are you going to be a dangerous person who hurts my family or a safe person who loves people?"

If it happens again I do the same 2 steps but they stay with me a LOOOOONG time and FEEL the pain of not being able to play while I say sweetly, "I'm so sorry sweet heart. You just aren't a safe person. You hurt my family. I love you and I need to watch you to make sure everyone is safe BUT you can get some toys and play by my feet."

I've done this with every one of my kids and it works!! I even did it with an older child when she was 8. She had lived in a very hard situation and was doing spiteful mean things like giving her sister a pinch on the sly when she didn't do what was wanted.

For this child I made a chart cause she was older of how you gain trust. It was things like, look in people's eyes when you talk to them,use words when you are angry, tell someone when you are frustrated etc... I would give her check marks every time I saw her handle a situation the RIGHT way. For awhile I told her I couldn't trust her anywhere. She had to carry a baby monitor with her and have it plugged in so I could hear everything if she wasn't with me. She had to sit in church with us so I could, "Make sure she wasn't dangerous."

I take physical violence uber seriously. Some people probably think I make too big a deal out of a pinch but I figure it's much better to make the point when it's a tiny pinch than wait till they are beating the crud out of each other and used to acting out with violence when they are angry. So we have 0 tolerance on hurting people.

I can truly say our children rarely purposely hurt each other anymore. In a new situation sometimes the little ones get territorial and I'll have to do a quick refresher. Anyway, hope that helps. That's probably WAY more than you were looking for. :-)

I know what it feels like to not know what to do. I really had to think this through when we adopted an older child. I knew her heart was not malicious. She was simply doing what she knew to do. Still she was 8 and we had a 3yr old so I had to nip it in the bud QUICKLY! So it's a subject I thought through extensively.

HUGS!! Angel


k. templeton said...

Great advice! I have three small children and I really needed to hear this today... :)

Shonni said...

Great answer. I have to bring a few pretty close often until they decide to play nice. Hurting others is just never OK.

Peggy said...

That is exactly how we handle things at our house. Our children were never allowed to hurt each other physically or call each other names. It saddens me when parents let that go and pass it off as "that's how siblings treat each other". How will children know how to treat others in the world if they can't treat their own family well?

Joanna B said...

Great advice! I am curious, can you tell me what you do when one of your children hurts you or your husband? We have a daughter who has been home for 9 months, and she just turned three. I feel like I am totally clueless when it comes to discipline! Thanks!

Amy said...

You're such a good mama! I'm so proud of you!

Wendi said...

Love this. Thanks for posting.
P.s. My mom read this last week and used it on my kids this week...worked brilliantly!

Wendi said...

Love this.
P.s my mom read this post and then tried it out on my kids this week. :) Said it worked like magic. Yay!