I was wondering what your philosophy is on when a child is “bad,” like when they hit or do something that directly disobeys what you have told them to do. I know you use the phrase “it looks like you need some help” and then help him to follow through, but what about when they hurt someone else? My son is only 19 months so I know it’s a bit different, but he has hit his little friend as well as me and the dog when he is frustrated. My sister encourages spanking (um, no) and my neighbor does time-outs. I don’t think time outs work with your philosophy so I was wondering if you’d speak to that. Thanks so much!
Thanks for writing! At 19 months, I don’t think that a child hitting is being ‘bad,’ even if you’ve just told him not to–it is simply that his impulse-control hasn’t developed yet. And that impulse to hit can be pretty strong! So, you have to teach him what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not. But realize that children at that age can only learn things from imitation, and from practicing many, many times. Children at this age don’t learn from being told what to do, and they don’t learn from being punished. So instead of punishing him, simply correct his behavior: help him touch in ways that ARE appropriate, every single time. If he has hurt somone, tend to the hurt child first, and then go back and help him practice again. Here’s what it looks like when I do it. Let’s say we have JJ who is hitting, and Sophie who get hit. I see it happen but I’m not close enough to prevent it.
Sophie: Waahhh!Me: Oh, no! Sophie, are you OK? (I go over to Sophie, who is not badly hurt. I stroke her arm and back. She immediately starts to calm)Me: JJ, you forgot! You must touch your friends only with your gentle hands, like this! (I’m still stroking). Here, you try. (I take JJ’s hand and help him stroke Sophie’s arm). Yeah…that’s nicer, isn’t it, Sophie? Are you feeling a little bit better? JJ is just learning to touch with his gentle hands EVERY TIME. He’ll get there soon.