Many parents still believe that telling a child to hit back is the right choice on the playground. In an Ireland where we have recently criminalised the hitting of children by adults, do we really want to tell children that hitting each other is the way to deal with playground problems?
Children need to learn to deal with issues in ways that will teach them lifelong skills. Hitting back is not a lifelong skill.
Here are ’10 ways to’ tips to support your child if they are experiencing playground problems:
- Support your child to stand up for themselves using words not by hitting back.
- Role-play the situation with your child. Help them find the actions and words to deal with the other child.
- Allow your child to talk about issues. Ask the child what support they need from you as the parent. Ask them what they think they should do. Explore with them the outcome of those actions. Decide if the outcomes are positive or negative.
- Make a plan to deal with the issue but make it their plan. Praise them for thinking this out and coming up with the plan. When their plan succeeds they will grow in confidence much more than if it was yours.
- If the plan backfires you can go back to the drawing board with them.
- Support and encourage your child to try again. Look at what they did, what went wrong, and ask them again what they think they need to do.
- Explore the options with them but do not tell them what to do. Facilitate your child to come up with their own ideas. They are very capable of thinking this through. This is the life skill: problem solving. The first plan is usually not the right plan but most of the time you will get there.
- Never allow your child to walk into danger. Alert a teacher to a challenge your child faces, if you need to, but ask them to be vigilant as opposed to jumping in.
- All too often we jump in and want to fix things for children. This is where we. In the past parents encouraged children, maybe a little bluntly, to sort it out for themselves. They didn’t have time to get involved. Today parents can be too involved. Do not fight their battles for them.
- Remember, the hitter is usually a bully but they may have issues with confidence. They may be bullied in the home or living in a domineering environment. This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.