How often have you had this experience?
Your darling child has once again hit their little brother after you’ve
- talked to them about what they should do instead
- scolded them countless times after they’ve hit their brother before
- given them activities to keep them busy and out of trouble
What’s wrong with them?! Why can’t they do what you asked? Aren’t you doing a good enough job of providing them with things to do? Are you doing something wrong as a mom? Is your child just awful?
All of these questions, and the assumptions underlying them assume one of two things:
- there’s something wrong with your child
- there’s something wrong with you as a mom
How demoralizing those attitudes are! If you believe either of those statements it’s hard to feel loving to either your child or to yourself. It’s difficult to problem solve when you’re feeling demoralized, too.
What would be more helpful, and would allow you to make positive changes in your child’s behavior would be to look at the problem – hitting – in a totally different way.
Instead of thinking that there’s something wrong with your child – they’re naughty or mean ….
Instead of thinking that there’s something wrong with you – you’re a bad or incompetent mom …..
Assume instead that “not hitting when they’re upset” is simply a skill your child hasn’t learned yet.
- Perhaps they have a good grasp of language usually, but when they’re upset they lose the ability to express themselves with words.
- Perhaps they are very physical beings, and using their bodies to get what they want is their current go-to strategy
- Perhaps they can use words when they’re upset, but they haven’t yet learned that just because you ask for what you want, doesn’t mean that the other person is going to give it to them!
In all of these cases, they’re not being ‘bad’ or ‘naughty.’ They’re just lacking a skill.
This is good news, because if they’re lacking a skill that means they can learn the skill, and won’t have to hit to try to get what they want. And it’s good news because that gives you something positive to do – figure out how to teach the skill they’re lacking (after you soothe the injured party!).
Can you see how changing your assumption shifts your attitude? Although you might still be upset in the moment – children hitting each other can be a big trigger – there’s something you can do to make things better in the future.
When you can make a plan to address a bad situation, you have the power to change things for the better. You’re no longer helpless against a situation you can’t change – a defective child or a deficient mom. You have the power to plan and put into action a plan to teach the skill they’re lacking.
You’re also likely to have more loving feelings toward the hitter after everything has calmed down. After all, they aren’t naughty, they just haven’t learned a skill yet.
You’re also more able to give yourself grace as a mom. Children need to learn so much in order to grow up to become the wonderful people they will be. They need time to learn and someone to teach them, and you can be that someone.
The next time your child does something ‘wrong’ try to see it as them lacking the appropriate skill to do the ‘right’ thing.
I believe it will help you be a better – and happier – mom.
Now, what’s one skill your little one hasn’t learned yet?
Until next time,
Stay Safe, Be well,