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5 Steps To Using Words, Not Fists

My son (the lil' hammer dude) is like most kids - impressionable and teachable. (I see this as an upside to having kids, because if you don't censor your own bad behaviour, they pick it up!!).

note to self - hide the candy wrappers better so my six year old doesn't see them in the garbage and get upset when I won't let her have any

Anyway, more about Lil' J. He has learned to talk about his anger, rather than hitting. Here's what worked for us:

Step 1) Intervene if he is hitting, pushing, or otherwise being physical with his anger.

Step 2) Sit down at his level and wait for him to calm down.

Step 3) Ask him why he is angry, listen to what he has to say.

Step 4) Tell him that it is OK to be angry, but that it is NOT OK to use his hands to show anger.

Step 5) Show him another way to express his anger: for example, by using words.

Steps 4 and 5 are particularly important. I truly believe that kids are not born wanting to hit or be violent - they just don't know how to express themselves. I also think it's important that he deal with anger, so that it's not bottled up inside.

This morning, for example, he didn't get to play in the school playground like he usually does because of the rain. He was very upset, but because we've been through the five steps listed above, he walked nicely with me, holding my hand, and talked about how angry he was. I told him that I understood, I'd be angry too, it's OK to feel that way, and I was very proud of how he uses his words to tell me.

Because he had been taught how to express himself without getting in trouble (which would have made him angrier), he got over it in about two or three minutes, and started laughing talking about something else entirely.

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Jaina said...

Wow, I'm impressed. That's awesome.

JEANNE said...

I'm fortunate that he's a pretty good boy that way - he's happy in general and is just not that physically aggressive. The few times that he has hit, it was easy to steer him in another direction because I don't think hitting is really in his nature. Lucky me :-)

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