How to Discipline a Child That Hits

By Kathryn Hatter
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Kids may lash out in anger when they feel frustrated or overwhelmed. Depending on the child’s age, he may not have solid impulse-control skills yet, making it difficult for him to not hit in response. If your child hits, firm and loving discipline will help him learn that hitting is unacceptable. With consistency, your youngster can adopt more appropriate responses to his feelings of frustration.

Step 1

Establish a firm “no-hitting” rule in your home so your child understands that hitting is unacceptable. By communicating your expectations with your child, you ensure that he understands the rules so he can follow them, suggests the Dr. Phil website. You might say, “Hitting hurts people, so we do not hit others.”

Step 2

Tell your child that episodes of hitting will result in a specific consequence. An appropriate consequence might be a time-out in a quiet place for a few minutes to help your child learn how to regulate the impulse of hitting, suggests the KidsHealth website.

Step 3

Remain calm as you discipline your child for hitting. Losing control of your own emotions and responding with physical punishment or yelling does not teach your child emotional control, warns the Ask Dr. Sears website. To help your child learn how to stay calm, model a calm response.

Step 4

Respond consistently every time your child hits to teach him that you will not allow him to hit others. By following through with the promised consequence every time your child hits, he will begin to regulate his impulse to hit.

Step 5

Help your child use words to describe how he is feeling, suggests psychologist Anita Gurian, Ph.D., with the New York University School of Medicine. Once a child learns vocabulary to describe feelings, he begins to be able to resolve feelings verbally instead of hitting when he feels frustrated or angry. You could say, “It looks like you’re feeling frustrated right now, because you want that toy. How about if we talk about that so you can feel better.”

Step 6

Praise your child when he exhibits self-control and responds to frustrated or angry feelings without hitting. Praising desired behavior reinforces these behaviors and makes it more likely that your child will repeat them, advises Gurian.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.