There are lots of different reasons kids hit. It is a form of behavior, not a function. Form, as in what the behavior looks like, the action that happens. Function, as in why the behavior happens, what the child is communicating with the action. It is the function that holds the information about how to change the behavior.

For very small beings, under three years old , it can be understandable since they are just learning the words to express their needs and wants. Yet, if someone else is hurt, hoping language skills improve is not an effective behavior strategy. When repetitive hitting happens, a plan to attack this behavior needs to be put in place. (Tweet)

Whereas I go into detail in my forthcoming book about how to create this plan, the first step is to understand why the small beings hits.

And the best way to determine that is to ask some questions. Notice if the small being’s behavior aligns with any of these questions:

1) Attention

  • Does the other student (the child that is hit) have a big reaction that is funny to the kiddo that hit?
  • Do multiple adults come over and talk to the student about hitting and on a scale of 1-10 how severe are their reports?
  • Do the parents of the student have conversations over and over again about stopping hitting?
  • Do other children in the classroom notice each time this students hit and comment on it?

2) Escape

  • Does the small being removed from places as the consequence for hitting?
  • Do you notice that the behavior happens when the small being is uncomfortable with the activity or situation?
  • Does the small being enjoy the place where they have been removed after hitting?

3) Self-Stimulation

  • Does this student like big hugs or other physical interactions that provide a similar feeling to what may be experienced during hitting?
  • Does the small being think it is funny when they get hit accidentally? Noticing their response can provide a lot of information.

When you have determined the main cause of the behavior you can use that information to form a plan of attack.


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