Hitting for attention

QUESTION:

My daughter is hitting and interrupting me, not because she is mad, but because she wants my attention. Why? What do I do?

Answer:

Even if this is the only time she’d ever done this, a firm and immediate response would have curbed the repeated behavior.

I do not allow my children to treat me rudely. Ever. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but the second it does, I respond. I will state to them – even to Aidan who is only 1 year old – “You are not treating me with respect. You need to treat me with respect. I will move away if you continue,” or whatever I’m prepared to do depending on the circumstances.

If your child continues the hitting, you need to remove yourself or hold her in a Bear Hug until she regains control. Yes, holding sometimes upsets a child. But I’ll share a story I shared elsewhere and that will maybe give some perspective here.

One night back in college, I was very drunk at a party. Anyway, there were these football players who showed up from another school. I was in the parking lot with a few friends and this very large man threw a beer bottle at someone. He missed them by a mile, but almost hit my friend. Well, believe it or not, I lost it. I ran towards him, right out of my shoes, and was flying through the air when three friends grabbed me from all sides and held me down. I was screaming for them to let me at him. I was thrashing around. I really wanted to hurt that person.

Now, I thank God that my friends had more control than I did. I’m so grateful that they kept me from attacking this man who would, no doubt, have injured me severely! He was very violent and didn’t care that I was a woman.

Did I want to be held down? No. Did I get angry about it? Yep. Did I resist it? Absolutely. Was I upset with them for awhile after? Yeah. Did I need it? You betcha! And I am so grateful, in retrospect, that those three friends cared enough about me to hold me down against my will and keep me from hurting someone else and myself.

Most people consider how a child feels when she’s restrained or removed. Most don’t consider how a child feels when she isn’t. Children feel too powerful when we don’t respond. Children are injured in their spirit when they are allowed to hurt their parents. They become afraid of their own power–and worried about their parent’s ability to be in charge.

Now, I’m not saying that you’ve damaged your child if you haven’t held them or have allowed them to hurt you. I’m responding to the concern over her reaction to being restrained.

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