How To Stop Your Preschooler From Biting & Hitting
Created by Swapna Nair Updated on Jul 16, 2021
When your toddler hits or bites you scream, ‘stop it.’ Your child hits out more and stares defiantly. Some parents even spank. It leads to more chaos. Then parents kiss and make up and bribe the child with toys, chocolates. The scene is enacted again, this time in public. It embarrasses you. You squirm, look away from others. Does this sound familiar to you?
A child between the age of 2-7 has to be taught and helped to express oneself. Between the age of 2-4, their vocabulary is limited. They are familiar with primeval emotions of anger. Not knowing how to express they lash out.
- Look out for signs- when is your child lashing out? Is it due to hunger, lack of sleep, is your child wanting attention, some cuddles, is your child being threatened by someone. does your child not want to share, does your child not want to play with another, your child wants another’s toy?
Once you identify the trigger it is easier to resolve.
- Between the age 2-4 the social skills are just developing. Sometimes they may not want to play with anyone. So please do not force. They will learn slowly at school to form a group or to play with another. Some children take a longer time to socialise or play with another.
- Set a routine for your child. Allot time for all their activities. This will ensure that they are fed at the right time, play and sleep at the right time. It is common to see children in India sleep very later. Just because they are in pre-kg or kg, they are allowed to sit up late. During this time they watch too much television or play with gadgets. Sleep is very important. Children ought to be in bed before 9 pm. The earlier the better. A well -rested child is a better mannered child.
- You may be a home maker or a working mom. It is important that at this stage children receive the maximum quality time from their parents and more so from the mother. Please make it a habit to spend exclusive time with your child. If you are a working mom do adjust your schedule so as to spend at least 30 minutes. Nothing in this world is more important. At this age children are not able to express that they want your attention. As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, attention is equal to love. This exclusive time is when you listen to your child, talk to your child, play or laugh or just hang out with them.
- Emotion coach your child. Help and guide them to express their feelings. Teach them to say, ‘mamma I want your attention.’ ‘Mom I am angry’. ‘Mom I am tired’. Mom I want…’
- Or give them a code word like fry-yums. When they say fry-yums it means they need you. This could come in handy in a public place.
- When they throw a fit, hold their hands, go down to their eye level, look at them, call out their name and slowly tell them they cannot hit or bite. Wait for them to calm. Hold them close. Then tell them on the expected behaviour. After some time you can use stories or examples to instil the right behaviour.
- Teach them to apologise. This is very important.
- Brainstorm with them on how they would behave if faced with the same situation. Then repeat the solutions.
- Help them to share their toys. Lay out the rules. ‘Your friend is coming to play. You will be sharing your toys.’ Teach them the positive rather than threatening if you don’t share ….
- Appreciate when they exhibit good behaviour.
- When they hit out or bite, instead of scolding try saying,’ I know you are angry but you cannot hit or bite. What you can do instead….’
- It is important that you role model the behaviour you expect. If you show calmness they learn that. If they see aggression around, they pick up that.
- Do remember it is a temporary phase, They will outgrow but let them outgrow in a positive manner, learning the right behaviour.