Hitting children: Is it a form of disciplining? Definitely a Big No


I have been working with children since 12 years now. My daughter is 15 months.

I primarily work with children with neurodevelopmental delay. I also have children who have delay in speech and communication. When a child can not speak  he/she  would definitely express frustration in some form or the other. My challenge when working with these children is to identify the cause of their anger or behaviour issues when they can not speak. Its tough!

Hitting children: Is it a form of disciplining? Definitely a Big No

When children are younger they communicate through various means. It is a task to identify what they want. Many a times it leads to frustration on part of the parent as well as the child. This is where loss of self control occurs.

It also happens when we just casually tap children on their back and then even that becomes a behaviour.

When children fall we hit the ground to pacify them so that they stop crying. Don’t we? What did we actually do. We in fact reinforced hitting. We did not do it purposely. It happened unknowingly.

Many a times this is a start. When children even hit others we say” No”. Really? What is the child supposed to translate the word No into action as? It is an open ended situation. Instead we need to say keep your hands down my child. What do you want to say or do tell me. Thus we initiate a positive cycle of behaviour.

When we get angry on our child we lose our sense of self control. It actually is our defeat when we hit. We have failed not our child. There are mothers who cry when they hit their child. They feel bad. Its obvious because it hurts. It hurts emotionally, physically and cognitively also. Children are disheartened when they are hit. They lose their sense of belonging. They cant justify this physical action. It is very easy to get angry and yell or hit. It is so very difficult to remain calm and play or work with a child.

Many people justify hitting as discipline. Discipline is internal first and then external. An individual needs the motivation to discipline himself or herself.

The parent needs to start working on some of the mentioned things before beginning to discipline their child:

  1. Firmness in the voice while talking.
  2. Simple instructions work.
  3. Structure is important in tasks.
  4. Positive reinforcement works wonders.
  5. Do you need help- Do ask your child.
  6. Are you finding it difficult? Ask your child.
  7. Break the task into subtasks.

Hitting is now mostly avoided in most preschools and schools. It is actually a form of  physical abuse as it impacts the functioning of children. Children begin to start fearing people. There is also emotional anxiety.  Hence it is very essential that parents and family members do need to develop the same pattern of working with children and handling them.

Many a times children even learn to hit back parents and other children even when such things might not be happening in their own households. This is a behaviour concern which needs attention. The parents need to identify the cause of hitting and then work towards rectifying and correcting the issue.

We aim to having children with optimal functioning and positive mental health. The disciplining methods what we use have to be positive  strategies that enhance positive learning.

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I am a pediatric occupational therapist working at Disha Comprehensive Rehab Centre, Santacruz west Mumbai. I work with children with developmental delay. I am also a blogger and I like to write about children's development. I am a mother to a 15 month old little monster named Aariana.

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