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I’m so glad you reached out here. When our kiddo are hitting or kicking or doing anything toward another child it can be so tough. We judge ourselves, we judge our kids and we can feel judged by others.
First I want you to know that your little girl is GOOD! You are GOOD! She is just going through a bit of a rough time right now. She’s off-track. She’s not thinking well. The hitting is just the best way she has right now of letting you know she’s having a hard time. And you can help.
I think your Mama instincts are spot-on when you mention your own Mom and how she is interacting with your daughter.
What we know about the human brain is: We can only think well and make good choices when we feel safe and connected. This is especially true for little developing brains. The thinking part of our brain really starts growing and developing when we are 4 or 5. Before then, they are really depending on us to help them think much of the time. They are really depending on us to help them feel safe and connected..
In your Resource Center, there are some videos and links to articles that explain why children go off-track, why they can’t think and how we can get them back on track and help them think by connecting. https://www.handinhandmembers.org/modules/research-resource-center/ You might share some of those articles with your Mom. Oh, and on our website, some of our articles are in Spanish. http://www.handinhandparenting.org/?s=spanish
You know when you are criticized or shamed how hard that is for you. So you can imagine what it does to a little developing brain. It can feel pretty scary. So when your daughter gets to the park, she is trying to show you the best way she knows how, that she feels scared and disconnected. At Hand in Hand we say that an aggressive child is a scared child.
What you can do to help your daughter to feel safe and connected is to give her regular Special Time. When you do Special Time you give your daughter your undivided attention for a short amount of time. You set a timer for 10 minutes or so, and you follow her lead. You do what she wants to do. At 15 months, she might not be able to choose something to do. That’s ok. The most important thing is that you are just there, following her around as she plays, giving her all of your love and attention. You shining your love on her for 5 or 10 minutes everyday will do so much to help her brain and confidence grow.
It would be very good to do Special Time before and after you leave her with your Mom and before you take her to the park. Again, giving her all your love and attention for that short period of time can help offset any hurt or negative feelings she may be experiencing with her Mom. When you make her feel safe and connected, she may play better with other children.
Because she’s in the habit of using hitting as a way of signalling you that she’s feeling scared and disconnected, for awhile you need to be on friendly safety patrol. What that means is that you need to stick very close to her at the park, and as soon as she gets close to another child and starts to hit, you gently and lovingly bring the limit to her – meaning you gently put your hand on her hand and say “no, sweetheart. I can’t let you hit”
That might be just the excuse she needs to really have a good tantrum or a good cry. This is a good thing!!! The only reason your daughter is hitting is because she has some hurt and fear stored in her emotional back pack. When you lovingly bring the limit to her, then that sends her brain a signal that it’s safe to let that hurt out. Then you simply LISTEN to her tantrum and crying without saying much. Just let her know that you are sorry it’s hard and that you are there.
Here’s the magic! When we listen to our children and let them empty the hurt that is stored in their emotional backpack (our limbic system) then they have more access to the thinking part of their brain (the cortex) and they can make better choices.
Here is a great article that explains everything I’ve written. http://www.handinhandparenting.org/article/children-hitting-biting-pushing-helping-children-with-aggression-2/
You are such a wise Mama. You know that just telling her not to hit is not helpful, since she’s not able to hear you. She’s not thinking so she can’t stop herself. She needs you to help her stop. She also needs you to help her feel connected and safe. Using Special Time, bringing a limit and LISTENING will do just that! She’s be your happy loving little girl more of the time.
I hope all that helps. Please come back with any more questions about this and let us know how it goes.
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy Gordon
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi