What to Do When Another Kid Hits Your Child

In the challenging moments of figuring out what to do when another kid hits your child, your reaction serves as a valuable lesson for your child in handling their own powerful emotions. Emily Edlynn, Ph.D., the Ask Your Mom advice columnist for Parents.com, emphasizes that the more you incorporate mindfulness in your parenting approach, the more adept you will become.

My almost 3-year-old daughter joined a Saturday ballet class with other children her age. A classmate struck my daughter in the face while the girl’s father remained silent. The instructor was inexperienced and did nothing. It was difficult for my husband not to lose his temper with the other dad and the teacher. How should we have reacted at the moment, and what should we do if this occurs again?


To the Angry Parent,

Regardless of the circumstances, when any of us observes our child being injured, it triggers our primitive protective instincts. I concur that the father of the other daughter is responsible for discipline, and I assume that the teacher was also astonished that he did not intervene. No wonder your spouse was upset and frustrated in light of this threat to your child and the adults’ lack of response.

Although I entirely see your husband’s emotional reaction, I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like for a group of 3-year-olds to witness an adult lose his temper. In light of this, everyone can use this as a learning opportunity to react differently in the future. It may not be a slap in ballet class, but a comparable circumstance could come with any of our children. The more prepared we are in advance, the better off we will be.

Consider Things from a Child’s Point of View

We are all aware that 3-year-olds are not known for their self-control. This youngster had a strong emotion that triggered an angry reaction, and neither she nor we may ever understand why. This is precisely why adults exist! Can you imagine a group of 3-year-olds abandoned on an island? Absolute chaos. Hence, although an impulsive slap may be “typical” behavior, she must learn that it is neither safe nor appropriate.

It is important to remember that our children and the children of others are always watching. Although it may not feel like it when kids never put up their toys despite watching us do it hourly, they are observing our responses, especially in stressful moments. If a 3-year-old observes an adult losing his temper, she will not learn what to do in that situation.

Remain Calm

If the misbehaving child’s parent does not intervene, you can. Your daughter is experiencing her own tearful response! Communicate calmly to the other child that it appears she has hurt and upset your daughter. This action should hopefully prompt the teacher and the other parent to likewise act or speak. Your composed response reassures your child that the situation is under control.

Your question provides me the opportunity to deliver one of my favorite sermons: the importance of mindfulness and how it can be extraordinarily beneficial in parenting. After almost 2,500 years of existence, mindfulness is once again trendy! Mindfulness practice helps our brains remain calm in challenging situations that provoke intense emotions. Ultimately, this level of composure improves our responsiveness.

How does it work? To summarize hundreds of years of teachings, mindfulness practice cultivates a keen awareness of present-moment thoughts and emotions. The sheer process of realizing at the moment that “my anger is growing and I may lose control; I want to slap that father just as his child slapped my child” helps us respond more successfully.

Meditation is one of my favorite topics because it helps us reach this level of self-control. The regular practice of meditation alters our brains over time, resulting in diminished sensitivity to negative emotions and thoughts.

Since I’ve increased my meditation practice, I’ve been considerably less angry with my children, which is a win-win situation. When we practice even the most ordinary aspects of our everyday life, we are better prepared for parenting emergencies. You may practice meditation at home by using an app or simply focusing for a few minutes on clearing your thoughts.

If There Is Another Time…

As advanced as you may become through mindfulness and meditation, you must also be prepared for a repeat of a comparable event. If the issue reoccurs, it becomes more of a structural concern. Every kid in the classroom has the right to feel safe, and recurrent aggressive behavior that is not appropriately addressed by adults undermines this right.

If this youngster injures your child again, use the previously stated solutions while remaining calm. Then you could take the following steps:

  • Speak to the instructor. Approach the instructor outside of class and communicate your concerns.
  • Ask questions. Determine what steps are included in the dancing program to address behavioral issues in preschoolers.
  • Specify the boundaries you anticipate. The staff and program must establish clear boundaries with the other family, including a prohibition on confrontational behavior during class.

Without a doubt, we will all be in a position to physically and emotionally defend our children. Likewise, the more effectively we manage it, the more protected they are.

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