Monday, December 5, 2011

"Stop Hitting Me."

On occasions when I have gone into a family's home, I have seen a child hit his parent or family member. This is always very upsetting for the family. The parent usually responds by demanding that the child stops the behavior but this if often only a temporary patch for the aggressive behavior.

In these situations I teach the parent to hold the child's arm so that he can no longer hit, and then to say, "You have stopped hitting, that is the right thing to do." or "Now you're controlling yourself. Your hands are staying down." Usually if the parent is calm and continues to do this, the child calms down and stops.

In the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting approach, Descriptive Praise is the most effective motivator we know that helps children want to cooperate. Descriptive Praise means noticing and mentioning everything your child does that is right, heading in the right direction or not wrong, and saying this all day long like a running commentary.

We teach parents to descriptively praise their child when he is misbehaving for two reasons. Firstly, telling off does not work, it just gives the misbehavior more attention and does not teach the child what he should be doing. Secondly, we need to understand that learning to behave properly is a long process, so if we descriptively praise little steps in the right direction - for example shouting not hitting - more little steps will follow.

Suzanne Ferera (see profile below)

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