Hitting children teaches them that it is acceptable to react violently when angry. It does not help them learn how to get what they need in a socially acceptable way. Children with challenging behaviors have a reason for their behavior. Finding out why the child is using the behavior opens opportunities to meet the child’s needs appropriately. Programs in Keystone STARS can ask their Regional Key for an early childhood mental health consultant at
https:/ /www.pakeys.org/ pages/ get.aspx?page=Programs_ECMH
Sometimes the child is expected to do something beyond the child’s level of development. In this situation, expectations should be lowered to a developmentally appropriate level. Some children use challenging behavior to seek attention that they are not getting for desired behavior. Some are temperamentally easily excited. They may misbehave when over stimulated. Closely observing children can reveal cues about when and why the child is misbehaving. Adults can use these cues to help the child solve problems.
A recently released position statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly oppos- es striking a child for any reason. Children can be physically harmed by being hit.
Whenever an adult feels a need to strike a child, it is best to step back from the situation. Take a deep breath and get control of the feelings about the misbehavior. Give the child an opportunity to take a break from the situation too. The child is not “bad.” What the child was doing is a problem that needs to be solved.