We need to teach our children not to hurt other children. Hitting, slapping, pinching, scratching, shoving, knocking down, hair pulling and biting are all unacceptable behaviors. Clarify for your child, “We don’t hit. We don’t hurt people. Disagreements are settled by talking, not hitting.” If children do fight, respond swiftly:
• First, intervene at the early shoving stage, or when the hand is raised. Don’t wait for injuries or screaming.
• Second, separate the children without questioning them. It doesn’t matter who you see doing the hitting when you come on the scene. That hitting could be a reaction to a previous blow.
• Third, send both kids to time-out in separate rooms. Another option is to send one child outside. If your child’s friend is aggressive at your house, time-out can consist of sending the friend home.
• Finally, model the type of verbal problem solving you want your child to use when he’s angry. That means no spanking and no rough handling.
During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.