Ugh! My most dreaded issue has returned: Blake started hitting again!
For a long while, he was doing so well that I don’t remember the last time he did it. I happily classified the past hitting as a phase, and now it is back :(.
He isn’t doing it a lot, but in the past week, he tried to hit (me or dad) 3 times when angry or frustrated. I have heard from the teacher once in the past month but yesterday, I had my embarrassing moment. A few parents were having a chat at Centre Island waiting for the kids to get off the rides. I mentioned that Blake is taller than the average 4 yr old and can get physical, and one of the kids’ grandma slipped out: “I think he does have that problem, because I overheard a kid reporting to mommy that Blake hit, and the mom rolled her eyes and said, how many times have I heard that before!”. Upon hearing the story, I turned beet red, wondering why I have not ever gotten any feedback on this from the teachers and had to find out this way. As I tried to probe a little further, the other moms all chimed in saying how it is so normal that I should not worry about it and tried to change the subject to make me feel better.
The truth is: we’ve tried everything. We’ve tried empathy (how would you feel if someone does that to you), stopping him mid-air and firmly tell him “we don’t hit”, putting him to time-out when he does it, as well as acknowledging his feelings (I know you are upset, frustrated) and teach him to problem solve or communicate using words, I even threatened him at times that if he does it, he’ll have grave consequences such as taking all his Lego away, but none of these strategies worked too well.
He never hits to hurt (it’s usually a pat on our arm while giving us dagger eyes) but rather to use it as an act of defiance. He understands it is wrong, sometimes regrets doing it after, but at the moment, it is I am going to show you that I am not happy. He hates time out, but the consequence alone isn’t sufficient enough to stop this act.
One thing I’ve learned a lot from this is to really understand your child’s personality and try to accept it. I’ve come to the realization that I have to stop wishing or molding my child into the kid I want, but to accept and embrace who they are, good and bad. I know it is important to be in tune with their feelings.
Blake has never been indifferent about what he wants, and he is a very passionate boy. For those who know me, you know the apples didn’t fall too far from the tree. However, he also is very impatient and seems to be lacking emotional intelligence than some kids his age. I have been trying to teach him to better regulate his own emotions by: doing by example, communication and role playing. I know all this effort will have a positive effect down the road, but for now, the results have been inconsistent.
Maybe there isn’t a way to completely stop this kind of behaviour. Maybe he will grow out of it. Maybe we don’t provide him enough outlets to channel his physical energy? Maybe he keeps on doing it because he always gets a reaction, but can you really ignore the action of hitting as a parent?
Why would a boy who shows lots of empathy for others, and has a warm, sweet heart by nature choose to be so testy with his hand? Or is it in their nature to be physical and we are making too big of a deal out of this?
Any advice and feedback?