What to say instead of “Why did you do that?”, “Don’t hit your sister, it’s not okay to hit”.
I’m sure we’re all guilty of saying something along those lines but it’t not at all helpful to ask children why they did something. They did it because they’re impulsive, because they don’t have the tools to solve the problem in any other way, so when you’re asking them “why did you do that?”
You’re essentially asking them “why can’t you do better?, Why aren’t you an adult already?”
It can create feelings of shame – we don’t want that.
Instead we need to give them the tools. We need to teach them for next time. So for example if your little one is frustrated and is lashed out at their sibling instead of saying “what did you do that for?”, you could say “it’s okay to be frustrated but I won’t let you hit your sister”. Kind but fair.
When they’re totally calm so later you can explain where they went wrong.
Hey, when you hit your sister earlier, it didn’t solve the problem, everyone just got more upset. Hitting makes everyone feel worse. Then give them the tools, give them the language for what they can say next time. Next time you can say “stop, I don’t want you to touch my dinosaurs” and if you think she’s not listening you can shout “Mummy, Daddy, I need your help”.
This is going to take some time. They’re not going to suddenly just stop being impulsive but if we can teach them the language, the tools they need to resolve conflicts, overtime they’ll have the skills to handle situations differently.
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