Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Hitting

My 3 year old daughter has started hitting me.  Out of anger, frustration, not getting her own way.  She has been doing it now for almost a week and I have been having varying degrees of non-success in trying to get her out of it.  It is mainly me she hits, though she did do it to her father once at the weekend.  To my knowledge she has not hit any other children - I would be mortified if she did, of course, and am anxious to rid her of this nasty behaviour before it becomes habit.

See, my daughter has been pretty good at expressing herself for some time now - so it isn't borne out of frustration in that respect.  No, she is having a phase of always wanting her own way and doesn't like to be told no, or to stop, or to come, or to not do that... When she has made her mind up or decides that she suddenly want to defy me, she'll suddenly stop, shout "No!" and hit me.  And if she misses, she'll keep trying until she makes contact.

Before I remembered the perfect parenting time-out manual, reinforced by lots of superior Mumsnetters (and other forum-dwellers) I shouted at my daughter and told her how naughty she was.  I shouted so loud I hurt my throat.  Needless to say she did it again, and again.  And I knew I was doing the wrong thing.  So I did an Internet search to find out what was the right thing to do, knowing that it wouldn't be to lightly spank in return (I have not done this, by the way).  Yay, time-outs, of course!  That magic cure-all that did actually work for us in other disciplinary matters for a while.  As my daughter has never been frequently naughty it was a good occasional strategy to get her to take responsibility for calming herself down after which we would have a little chat about what had happened.  Perfect parenting by the trendy manual standards - gold star for me!

Except that this time the time-outs are having no effect.  Out and about my daughter is resisting boundaries and refusing calming methods and I'm having to resort to hoisting her up and carrying her off in disgrace - sometimes for her own safety (when stopping in the middle of a road, for instance).  I can see the looks of others and imagine what they are thinking 'what a horrible child you have', 'what a bad mother you must be' and I keep imagining myself snapping and giving her a smack.  I sometimes feel like doing this in the heat of the moment, but of course I don't.  Now... it is a strategy, whatever you think about it (it's certainly not popular currently) and I find myself thinking 'well I had the occasional spank and what harm did it do me?'   None is the answer, and I grew up well adjusted and not at all violent - same as my sister (though we did fight each other on many an occasion!)  But to reconcile with this form of discipline for use with my own child I feel that I ought to examine what my motivation would be.  Would it be a genuine last resort to teach consequences or would it be an act of frustration on my part?   At this point it would be the latter and I am not okay with that.  Thankfully I have the self-control not to lash out (as I'm sure 99% of parents do) but sometimes feeling like I want to is a little difficult to reconcile and I have to ask myself would I feel comfortable if someone else in authority (childminder, pre-school teacher, grandparent) spanked my child.  The answer is that I wouldn't and so I really don't want to go there myself.  However, for the really naughty child who's parents have tried every consequence and strategy possible?  Well, every child is different and I am feeling a little less judgmental in that respect than I did before the hitting started.

But anyhow, maybe the time-outs will come good in the end.  I'm certainly going to persist and I have numerous other consequences, such as loss of TV privileges and withdrawal of favourite toys and books for a period before I ever feel the need to reconsider the dreaded spank.  Wish me luck and feel free to offer (non-judgmental) advice i.e. no debate on the merits or demerits of specific forms of discipline, please - you can go to Mumsnet for that!

7 comments:

  1. Oh, I feel for you and have been in a simalar situation of late. My usually calm son has been having the odd obscene outburst of screaming at me because something doesn't go the way he wants. Last week he did it on the walk home from nursery and I was livid. I did not want to be one of those parents dragging a screaming child behind me and yet that's what I was.

    His favourite part of the day is to have his two bedtime stories and then he likes to talk about the day in great detail. That night he didn't get to have any of that and I sent him to his room as soon as we got home, as much for me to calm down as for him. I find myself using the 'bribe' of no bedtime stories if you're naughty more often than I'd like but for now at least it is working. We'll see what happens...xx

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    1. Oh thanks Mummy Zen, it's good to know I'm not alone, though of course I'm sorry you're going through similar. And yes... I too was one of 'those parents' and I hated it.

      I hope your method carries on working and hopefully I'll soon find an equivalent before I start bashing my head against a brick wall in frustration or cry in public (about as socially acceptable as spanking!!!) :)xx

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  2. I guess I only really know about this from a special needs perspective as my girls never hit me. But the one thing I have learned is that often kids seem to get a kick out of a reaction, so my aim (need italics here lol) is to remain calm at all times. That seems to calm him and prevent him getting to the meltdown/hitting stage. Time out didn't work with him and most punishments don't either - except removing all his consoles and games and locking them in the garage, which he know now is the punishment if he turns violent. I know it sounds drastic, but an angry 11 year old can be quite dangerous! It should be just a phase with Babyzoid xx

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  3. Sorry to hear this lovely. MC went through a phase where she would lash out if she was having a bit of a melt down but she'd just do it once, even if she missed. Thankfully it only happened in the house. We got through it by walking away and ignoring her totally. Not speaking to her or making eye contact. We also take her favourite toys away too and thankfully she only went through a short while of trying it on. Good luck xx

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    1. It looks like ignoring is the way to go! Worked for us too in the end, thankfully! Lovely to see you Heather :)

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  4. I wholeheartedly feel your frustration. Baby Badger went through a period a couple of months ago where she would hit me when I was trying to get her to sleep. If I reacted at all she thought it was a game, to the point of her crying and saying "want to hit Mummy"! I ended up turning away and ignoring her whenever she did it and it seems to have stopped for now...

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    1. I'm glad it stopped, Mother Badger. I have to say that a similar method worked for us too. Not rewarding the behaviour...!

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