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hi as any one any suggestions on any books regarding feelings , i have a little boy who constantly hits other children, he especially targets the smaller ones. He will push them over scratch their face and pull hair.He has been with us for two months now, but does not seem to be getting any better. He is quite happy when he arrives and is happy to leave mum. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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There is one that I can think of called 'Hands are not for hitting' although this doesn't specifically deal with other children's feelings. I'll include the link for Amazon so you can have a look.

 

Amazon

 

Have you observed him to see what makes him react in this way? You also need to speak to his mum and find out how he behaves at home. If this is his 'normal' behaviour then you need to be working together to solve the problem, so that he is recieving a consistent message. I had a little boy like this last year and after speaking to mum discovered that his dad played with him in a very 'rough and tumble' sort of way at home and never told him off if he hit or bit him. Once we were all working together the behaviour improved immediately and continued to steadily over the year. :)

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I've had a chat to mum,and she says he as always be like this and she really can't put it down to any thing ,she is expecting a baby in a months time and is quite concerned how he is going to react to the baby. I thought the problem maybe was with the pregnancy, but mum say's he was behaving like this before.

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Hmm, sounds like you need to be working very closely with his parents. But that is difficult with a new baby due any time now!

 

I would arrange to meet with the parents asap, get as much information as you can, and in the meantime observe very closely to see what exactly sparks these incidents, etc. A log would help, althouhg be careful about showing it to the parents as it could have a very negative impact.

 

I'd then work hard by having him monitored closely, if you can assign someone to do this it would be ideal. Notice and comment upon everything positive that he does. Maybe find him a friend who he relates well to - it sounds like he needs a friend who is as big as him or bigger, and able to stand up for himself or herself! Model appropriate touches and behaviours for him, and put him in situations to be successful.

 

He may well simply not understand that the things that he does hurt others. Some children simply do not yet have that level of empathy yet, and they need more help than others to develop it.

 

Interestingly, I am just writing the next article for the forum - the title is 'Developing Empathy'! It is an interesting topic. We as adults can tend to expect young children to have a level of empathy that developmentally they just do not have yet. Eg, a parent recently told me how upset she was about how her two year old 'tortured' their cat by chasing her and pulling her tail, then laughed when her mother told her off. Of course, this is upsetting, but from the child's perspective, she had no concept that what she was doing hurt the cat, all she saw was a wonderful reaction when the cat scooted away and yowled, and even better, her mum looked funny when she got cross!

 

Empathy is a challenging topic. It is something that children develop slowly, and some need more help than others. Meanwhile, you need to protect the kitty - or in your case, the smaller children - from the child who will hurt them. This takes time, creative thinking, and energy. Plus a lot of patience!

 

You need a multi-pronged approach, a story or two may help a little but probably won't solve the problem. Some suggestions in addition to stories - puppets, soft toys, for stories for all the children about gentle touches. Simple words in explanation, especially if this little boy doesnt have good language skills. Don't use long explanations, and don't 'tell off'. A firm statement, eg 'touch gently' or 'no hitting' works better than trying to get him to understand the complexities of the situation, when he'll shut down and tune you out. Some children respond well to a often repeated rule eg 'we are a no-hitting family/nursery/class'.

 

Try role playing situations and how to give appropriate responses. Use everyday examples and storeis for this. Engage his help when children are hurt, and use positive affirmations that he is gentle and so kind. Eg ask him to help you when you deal with a grazed knee and exaggerate the sympathy expressions. Be explicit about the child who is hurt.

 

Don't push for a 'sorry', as it becomes meaningless. Instead, try asking him what he could do after an incident to make a child feel better. Talk in general about things that make you feel better. Eg: My own daughter decided that fetching a very cold drink of water always helps with an owie or hurt feelings. She takes herself off to pour her sister a drink if she's upset her. Often this is the first sign that tells me that they've had a disagreement! :o Encourage this little boy to find his own ways to help others. Try to step in before he hurts someone and use language that shows trust in him to do the right thing.

 

Finally, be easy on the parents and on him right now, a new baby is a stressful time for a family, and you don't want to blow this up in their minds right now. But on the other hand, it sounds as if they would appreciate a firm plan of action as they are worried about the baby. I'd recommend drawing up a written plan, with lots of positive aspects, to help him at school, and also to help the parents at home. Talking through all these things may help them with the situation at home. They might welcome help, eg by bringing the new baby into nursery to show him off and to show how the brother helps out with the baby and is gentle with him. Books about caring for siblings, new baby on the way etc etc.

 

I'm just brainstorming here, but hope that you can make sense of my ramblings and I hope that they help!

 

Nicola

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