Child hitting parents
Hello everyone,

My wife and have a sibling group of three older children that have been placed with us for two weeks. Two boys - age 9 - are fraternal twins and a girl - age 6. I was wondering if anyone has dealt with a child that was abusive to everyone in the house. One of our boys has hit or kicked my wife and I approximately 6 times in two weeks. He has thrown things at us. He also hits his brother and sister pretty regularly.

His hitting incidents usually occur as a response to some other form of discipline ( go to bed, don't take my keys to the car, stop hitting your sister or brother)

In addition he does talk back a lot and when he has not hit us he likes to make a threat with his fist or an object.

While the hits haven't hurt physically I am concerned about a potential escalation in behavior.

We have tried grounding and taking away of priveliges.

Any thoughts? How concerned should I be about this behavior?



PS - Yes, I am very concerned.
I'd be very concerned. I had 8 year old twins and one of them hit us, hit his brothers and worse, controlled all of what his twin did or said.

He needs to pay restitution to whoever he hits or kicks, needs to be within your sight as much as possible, and needs to be in counseling(perferrable with and adoption/attachment specialist.)

If at all possible, do not have the twins sleep in the same room and keep them seperated as much as possible unless you are present.

Is this a foster or adoptive situation? I recommend researching a lot about attachment disorder.
Does he have a therapist yet? If not, I hope it will not take a long time to get one.

Obviously he is very upset right now with the changes that have occurred in his life. He probably has witnessed and experienced violence in his first home. He is very young and kids don't have very good impulse controll.

I don't have experience with a child that hits, but my daughter used to run at me and squeeze my arm hard with her hands (and fingernails).

In general her punishment for touching me in anger has been that she loses out on attending her favorite Friday night party (kid party that is at the local recreation center for 7 to 14 yr olds). She gets to stay home and keep me company (which I make a big deal of about how happy I am to have her stay home with me).

I don't suppose your foster son has much to lose. You don't want him to feel like he cannot succeed. Maybe you could sit down with him when he is calm and draw up a little contract about it. Explain to him that you love him but will not let him hurt anyone, and that you will not let anyone hurt him either.

Supposedly out-of-control kids are frightened by their own behavior and will feel a lot of relief if the adult can calmly handle them and keep everyone safe from them. It is really important that you do not yell, you have to be the emotionally-strong one who is calm and ultimately in control.

Good luck with that! ha, sorry, it is hard to be calm when a kid is being scary. I remember my daughter used to get a knife and stab pillows. I'm lucky that my daughter is basically a big chicken. She told the cops (the time she was so out of control that I called 911) that she was too chicken to hurt herself and even more too afraid to hurt anyone else.

The Boys and Girls Town people have a free 800 number with counselors. Maybe part of your contract with your foster son would be for him to call them when he feels like he wants to hit. They told me that if a child is hitting an adult the adult should calmly describe the child's behavior to them while telling them you do not like it.

I'm sure you will get much more helpful responses than mine. I am so glad my daughter (so far) limits her aggression. She told me once that she'd rather be like her bdad (the hitter) than her bmom (the hittee). Perhaps your fson needs to know that there are more than two choices (hit or be hit).

There is a book called The Defiant Child by Dr. D. A. Riley. It is a pretty good book. Also the book called The Explosive Child is an interesting and helpful book.
Behavior intervention needed
You have a very difficult situation. You need to use some behavioral parenting skills here. Here are the skills to use:

Stop-Redirect-Reinforce for behaviors that can not be tolerated (such as hitting parents, or hitting siblings with the intent to hurt).

Planned or purposeful ignoring (called Pivot) for behaviors that are inappropriate, but not destructive of people or things.

Positive Reinforcement of appropriate behavior - You need lots of this.

Set Expectations - this is a tool where you communicate the expectations, in a positive way, and also the payoff (reward) for meeting the expectations.

Stay calm and avoid coercion. This reduces conflict and promotes cooperation and good behavior.

Use empathy. Essentially, respond to emotional statements kindly, calmly, and reflect back the emotion being stated. Such as, "I know you really want stay up late. But it is bedtime." "I see you are super upset. I'm sorry."

Traditional discipline (punishment) is not the way to go with a difficult situation like this. The above skills are taught to Florida Foster Parents in a course called "Parenting Tools for Positive Behavior Change".

You may also try finding a Behavior Analyst. This is the science of behavior. It will be FAR MORE EFFECTIVE in this case than will a therapist.

There is hope. Good luck.

Tom Dozier, behaviorist
You may also try finding a Behavior Analyst. This is the science of behavior. It will be FAR MORE EFFECTIVE in this case than will a therapist.

I respectfully disagree with you on this. The behavior is very likely trauma based and until the trauma is addressed, the behavior will not improve. Just improving the behavior is like taking asprin to relieve the headache from a brain tumor. The headache will be gone, but the underlying issue will still be present.
Send them back - it does not get better - I KNOW.
it will be frustrating when your child hits you or hurts you with any other things just need to teach your child anger management skills and you need to encourage your child to read a book, draw a picture, take a deep breath, or go to his room when he feels angry.
All times are GMT. The time now is 10:10 pm.