My daughter is hitting and interrupting me, not because she is mad, but because she wants my attention. Why? What do I do?
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 my 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.
Personally, I fall to the lenient side of most things. I’ve had to get to the point where I respond regardless of the reaction. True, they don’t always like what I do, but it’s never done to harm or upset them. At the same time, if that’s the outcome and I know my choice was appropriate, then we process the feelings and move on. If I step over the appropriate boundary, I apologize and find a better response the next time.
As for interrupting when Mommy and Daddy are talking–that’s actually quite normal for a 2-year-old. Doesn’t make it appropriate. We’ve carried on several conversations against our children’s will. I simply tell them, “Mommy and Daddy will be talking. We can either stay here with you or we can go in another room and come back when you’re ready to be respectful and not interrupt us. Which will it be?”
I definitely believe we have to assure children that they can’t interfere in our marriage. It’s not that the marriage is more important or should put them off for its sake, but children feel secure when the marriage is secure. And children need to know that they can’t come between Mom and Dad in that way. Sure, they try to. But by not letting them we fill them with confidence and surety that our marriage will withstand anything that comes against it. Remember, children (all people, really) test the boundaries when they need to be reminded that they are safe and secure.