"In the eyes of a child, parents are "mean" when the child discovers that they mean what they say. "

How to Deal With a 5-Year-Old Who Hits

Question

Our son is 5 and just started kindergarten. He's had so many tough transitions this year with COVID lockdowns. One day in March his friends, preschool, extended family were all taken away and then one day in August he started a new school, with no nap, new friends, and a real learning environment. It's been a tough time for us all. The ticket system doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere and now I've gotten a call from school that he's acting so frustrated he's hitting other kids at recess. He's generally a sweet boy who blows kisses to his teachers and loves school but he's struggling to deal with his emotions and frustrations plus a mask all day. His frustrations come out at me (mom) and now they are coming out at his classmates. I believe this is normal 5 year old behavior plus tough times but how can I guide him into handling his frustrations in a constructive way?

Answer

Hello dear mom and thank you for your question!

Being aware that your boy has to handle his frustration is the first step to make it happen and you have already taken it. As you mentioned it’s been a tough time for us all, and we feel sorry for our kids for wearing a mask all day, but this feeling is not going to help them. Guidance will.

As you believe the ticket system doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere, I will suggest you implement a highly surprising system that is going to enable the only person who can help your boy deal with his frustration and emotions: himself.

For that, you are going to give him an offer he can not refuse. That’s what John Rosemond names “The Godfather Principle”. Whenever he comes from school with a note about hitting his friends, he is going to bed right after supper. The first time you will surprise him with this big news: “All right. It seems to me that you are very tired and that’s why you are hitting your friends at school. Going to bed earlier is going to help you cope with that." Do not give him a second chance. He might promise you it won’t happen again. Tell him you talked to the doctor and the doctor recommended longer sleeping hours in order to help him. The next morning you ask him if he feels rested and say that that is how it is going to be from now on. Whenever he is so tired that he can not control himself, he will have an earlier bedtime.

I would not say this is normal behavior for a 5 -year-old. This behavior has to be nipped in the bud, especially if he hits you. Have you read John Rosemond’s “The Well-Behaved child – Discipline that really works!”? That might help you a bunch with effective discipline.

Hang in there!

Denise Rohrer
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

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