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Hello my name is: The mom whose child hits others

child who hits

I see you across the playground. You look over and smile. Our kids are similar ages, and shoot, we might just have a chance of exchanging small talk and becoming friends. But you see… unfortunately I already know how this is going to play out…

Our kids will be playing together, when for whatever reason my son will be the child who hits or pushes your child. I will carry out some necessary discipline, but that smile you had just minutes before will quickly turn to a scour. You will motion for your child to move to another area of the playground, and mumble something under your breath to the effect of ‘some children are just mean, let’s go over to play with the nice kids.’ And I will be left embarrassed, frustrated, and wondering why I even attempt to go out in public anymore.

Maybe it would help if I started wearing a name tag that reads Hello My Name Is: The Mom Whose Child Hits Others.

Since having children I’ve had an epiphany… no matter how hard you try, you can not control another human being. And trust me, I’ve tried. Before my son began this hitting phase, I remember silently judging other parents who had aggressive children because I was convinced the parents simply didn’t know how to effectively discipline their child. Now that I’m in those shoes, I see that although discipline is an effective tool, sometimes kids just do whatever the heck they want.

Boy with ducks

I was at the zoo a while back, and my friend and I were sitting near a play area so I could nurse my newborn while watching my toddler play. My 2 year old runs up to me and says ‘Momma, I just hit,’ and sure enough, I see a little girl crying with her dad behind her…and they were walking up to me. I look down at my toddler and tell him he needs to apologize and that we are leaving the zoo because of his actions, and the dad cuts me off and says “No! It doesn’t matter if he’s sorry. I don’t care if he’s sorry! He hit my daughter, and you didn’t even see it happen. How about you try to pay more attention to your kids and learn to be a good mother!” And with that he stormed off. I sat for a moment in shock, and then the tears came (thankfully behind sunglasses). I looked around to see every other parent there was looking at me, glaring at me even… so I gathered our things and left, crying the whole drive home.

That man had no idea how exhausted I was, emotionally and physically. He had no idea how many nights I had gone without a good night’s rest – waking up multiple times a night with two kids. He didn’t see how consistent I’d been in punishing my son for hitting, and how many different tactics I’d tried. Would he have verbally attacked me the way he did if he had?

I learned a lot that day.

I learned that we never know the full story. And although we are hardwired in our DNA to protect our kids from anyone or anything that threatens to harm them, every child goes through phases. For some it’s biting, or hitting, or pushing, or screaming. For others it’s meltdowns and tantrums, breaking toys, and back-talking. But it’s all a phase. And most of the parents I’ve come in contact with are trying their hardest to help their children navigate these difficult phases.

So perhaps, we can encourage each other instead of reprimand.

We can offer advice to how we’ve navigated those difficult seasons, instead of giving judgmental looks and glares.

We can look past their child’s difficulties, and see another mother, a comrade, a fellow warrior running this race of motherhood alongside us.

Because after my child has made his way to the other side of this phase, and we are at a play date, and your kiddo pushes mine, I will know to look you in the eye, smile, and say “Hey, you’re doing a great job. This gig isn’t easy, we’ll get through this together.”

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3 Responses to Hello my name is: The mom whose child hits others

  1. Noelle July 20, 2016 at 7:07 am #

    Beautifully said. I’ve also discovered that as they grow ive had to continually challenge myself to not gain my identity from my child’s performance (whether good or bad). It’s not a solid foundation and it puts unhealthy pressure on them. But it’s truly a challenge, especially since our culture is wired that way.

    One thing I know for sure, you’re an amazing mama.

  2. Beth Grady July 20, 2016 at 2:23 pm #

    You are not alone. I am the mother of a biter/hitter. One, who like your son, openly admits it and no consequence will deter her when she feels that she has been wronged and wants to lash out. One minute she is getting compliments from a fellow mom on how cute she is and then… whack, she hits that mother’s poor kid! Sometimes I can see it coming, but I’m not able to get there in time to stop it. We’ve had to leave play dates many times because of this and I get an anxious pit in my stomach whenever we go to a play area where we don’t know anyone. I didn’t have this happen with my oldest so this is new for me and like you said, we don’t want our children to do this and we are trying our best. So thank you for sharing this and I hope it helps other parents realize that we are all trying our best and that we don’t want our child to hit just as much as you don’t want your child to get hit!

  3. Debbie July 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. I too (and many many more) am a mother of a hitter/ pusher. He is 8 years old now and thankfully has outgrown that stage. But, for about 2 years it was a nightmare. Luckily I had great friends that we did most of our playdates with and they knew or understood how my son was. He would push kids his size or smaller. Never his older sister or her older friends. I would always discipline him and felt like as long as I was trying, at least I was doing something. I feel your pain for that horrible dad that approached you at the zoo. Shame on him. Karma!
    Now, my son is an incredible spirited child that can hold court and work a room. He still gets into trouble but it is all hands free and because he is trying to show off.
    All you can do is apologize and move on. I think every parent whether they admit it or not has been in a similar situation. Good luck. It does get easier. 🙂