10 Minutes A Day Can Stop Kids From Hitting

Dear Hand in Hand,snuggle

My 5 year old son keeps hitting his friend and is disrespectful to people, how can I fix this? I am a stay at home mom, my husband is gone months at a time for work so it is just my son and I. I currently stay home with my son and watch two other little boys during the day as well.

My problem is that my son has been hitting the other 5 year old that comes to our house during the day. This has been going on for a month now. He will punch him in the stomach or in the arm. He also does not act sorry when he does these things, and will often times act like it is no big deal.

I have tried taking away toys, time outs, no movie night, stayed home form events and none of this is working.  My home needs to be a safe positive environment for my son and these two precious little boys that come here, what should I do?-Needs Hitting Help

Dear Needs Hitting Help,

This sounds like a tough situation all around, but one we can certainly help with. Here's an article about how you can help children with aggression that will give you some concrete steps to take to calm the situation. The simple answer is that children who act on aggressive impulses are scared. Children don't want to hurt other children. They would much rather play and have fun and laugh together. But when children have moments when they don't feel fully connected to the caring grownups in their life, it's scary for them and that fright comes out in off-track behavior.

Each day, before the other children arrive, spend 5-10 minutes with your son doing whatever it is he chooses to do with that time. Give him your full attention and warmth. Show him the cooperation and flexibility you'd like to see from him for the rest of the day. Be goofy with him. Laugh together. Take that time to remind him that you care, that you really do see him, that you are offering him a safe connection. Let him soak in some of that wonderful attention before the other children get there and your focus is divided by three. Then, when the timer goes off ending this Special Time, let your son know that when the other children leave, the two of you can have 5-10 more minutes together and you'll do whatever it is that he wants to do.

There's no way to tell how much missing his dad contributes to this situation. Here is an article on helping with separation, because those kinds of long absences can be very difficult for some children. There are many other materials on our website that might also help.

The safe and positive environment you are working for is right there. It just may have some feelings crusting over and making it look kind of messy right now. We'll be happy to help you brighten it up a bit with some Special Time and there is a lot more support available for you in our online tutorial, “No More Hitting”  or in our Listening to Children set.

Let us know how it goes,
Julianne Idleman

Messy Loud Real-Life ParentingDo you want more suggestions on how to use Special Time? Check out our free video series. In the first video, you’ll get a step by step guide to using Special Time and some fun examples of what it can look like. Get your videos now.

4 thoughts on “10 Minutes A Day Can Stop Kids From Hitting”

  1. This is great advice – are you able to offer any tips for a single Mum of 5 year old twins re. regular bickering and hitting? One on one time with them is really hard to find as the minute one of them gets my full attention, the other one wants in on the action. It is particularly difficult first thing in the morning when they both want a cuddle on their own and I am trying to get us all out the door for school. Thanks, x

    1. Hi Georgie, that’s a good question and I’m sure a concern for many parents. I only have one child but I have heard of how others have dealt with a similar situation. Patty Wipfler tells her story of bringing up two boys as a lone parent and how she got an older child to come round to the house to play with one of her children whilst she gave the other special time and then swapped around. Lastly when her children had received special time and could play together she gave the older child special time and as a result he became like another family member. It may be tricky to do this first thing in the morning but maybe you could set something up like this after school? Other Mum’s have shared how they would give one child special time and if the other got upset she would continue with the special time but also having her arm around the child who was crying to help them release their upset about not having her all to themselves and then she would swap round and give the other five minutes. These tears can be really healing for the child. Have you read about staylistening? I hope this helps you. It sounds very challenging for you and I’m so glad you were able to reach out here and seek support for yourself. Have you heard of listening partnerships? Something else that I really recommend so that you can get the support you deserve as a parent. Steph

    2. Hi Georgie,
      Wow I can imagine that’s hard! What a lovely mum you are to be seeking ways to make it more peaceful between them. My first thought about the morning squabble is can you maybe turn it into a game? Like trying to kiss them “I want this child, no I want this one too” and possibly they’ll start running away and you’ll have to chase them? I appreciate you need to get things done in the morning, but perhaps you could allocate some time to this first in aid of an easier morning? And can you get someone else to help so you can give good special time after school? The more they get their fill of you, the less squabbling you’ll start to see. I know others have used creative strategies like paying a teenager for an hour or getting another family to come over and play with one child, so you can give time to the other, but you will have your own ideas. All the best with that and let us know how it goes. xx

  2. I love this article ! But I’m still confused . I have 2 boys (nearly 4 and nearly 2 years old ). My oldest has always been very demanding , always needs a lot of connection . I do my best with both of them, especially with my oldest ( ever day I spend time to talk, cuddle, play , special time only with him ). They are very aggressive all day with me and with each other . I’m actually exhausted to give them so much, I feel drained and anyway it’s not really working for me . I don’t know what to do ?

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