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Teaching Non-Aggressive Ways to Deal with Frustration

Question:

My son is hitting and pushing at school. His teacher administers time-outs at school. At home I have used reward charts and have given him time-outs.  Nothing seems to work.

Answer:

We often tell our children to not continue negative behavior, but we forget to tell them what positive behaviors we want to see instead. When your son becomes frustrated or angry with others, he hits or pushes. Use the below parenting tips to help curb this behavior.

  1. Tell him you would like him to keep his hands to himself and use his words to express his feelings. Another option is to ask his teacher for help. Teach him that whenever someone frustrates him he needs to put his hands in his pockets.  If he does not have pockets, he needs to put his “handcuffs” on, meaning that he puts his hands behind his back and holds his wrists.  
  2. Give him a good kid-related reason to do what you are teaching. Point out the benefits to him for doing it this way.
  3. Have him practice. Demonstrate what you mean. Check his understanding by having him demonstrate it back. 

For example, take a situation that has happened in the past at school in which your son hit or pushed a classmate. Then show your son the new way to handle the conflict. Practice daily at home because the more he becomes familiar with this new way, the more likely he will be to use it in the heat of the moment. Praise him when he uses it, and be patient. It takes time to replace old behaviors with new ones.  

It is good that you are using consequences. The more immediately that they occur after the infraction, the more likely your son will see the connection between poor choices and negative consequences. A time-out is an appropriate consequence. We suggest that you fill the time-out with practicing his new behavior because consequences paired with teaching is an effective way to bring about change.

 

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