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What to do When Your Child Hurts Another Child

If your child has hurt another child, first know that you are not alone. You may be feeling a bit confused and upset, but kids hurting kids is relatively common. Still, it's important to understand that the aggressive behavior that results in bumps and bruises (physically and/or emotionally) may be normal, but it also has to be stopped before it worsens.

Addressing Aggressive Behavior in Children

Elementary school age children may hurt others for a variety of reasons. Kids may kick, hit, push, or even dig their nails into others. Your mission is to find out why your child has hurt another child. Whether it was because she was angry and didn't know what else to do, or because she was acting in self defense, expect to get enough information from your child to help her behave in a more appropriate manner.

If your child has hurt another child, consider these tips:

  • Find out why it happened. Let your child know that hurting others is never acceptable. Teach your child about empathy by asking how she would feel if someone did the same thing to her.
  • Teach your child the importance of apologizing. Encourage her to apologize to the other child (providing it wasn't done out of self defense).
  • Focus on teaching your child healthy ways to deal with her anger. Your child may want to talk it out, listen to music to cool down, journal, etc. She needs to learn healthy ways to handle bad feelings.
  • Monitor your child's television viewing habits. Some shows are violent and may glorify aggressive behavior.
  • Try using a behavior chart if aggressive behavior occurs often. Reward good behavior.
  • Speak with a school counselor or doctor for advice if aggression is an ongoing problem that you can't seem to correct.

It's important for parents to make sure they are not using aggressive behavior to manage their own anger. Doing so sends the message that such behavior is appropriate. It is important to always model healthy ways to deal with being upset, frustrated, or angry. With consistency and patience, your child will successfully employ her own non-aggressive methods to deal with her anger!