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Hitting: When your kid is the aggressor
For kids who are working on non-aggressive methods of resolving conflict
Quick Things You Need To Know:
- Check out the temper tantrum & outburst booklist – I’ve been using this list in conjunction with the books here.
- This booklist is for kids who have been physically hitting other people, and some who are psychologically intimidating/scaring/taunting other kids.
- R2 (who is SUPPOSED to be the easy one!!! GAH.) has been getting into scuffles at school. I thought we were long past this and I even remember a few months back thinking “Oh how wonderful it is to be past the hitting/diaper/sleepless night stage!” BUT NO. He’s losing his temper (he has always had a temper) and has started hitting other kids, hitting his teachers, making messes just to be a shit when he’s just a little bit offended. GAH. Like most parents, I’m mortified. His particular hitting is pretty soft – it’s a communication, rather than an attempt to hurt. Kind of like saying “What you have done is so offensive to me I am willing to breach the social contract and do the UNTHINKABLE!” So we’re working on how to get him to control himself and cut it out.
- In terms of kids who hit to hurt, I’m not sure these books would help. But you can try!
- At some point, I’ll also add a list of books about psychological bullying for older kids, which is more pervasive and a bigger issue. But we’re not quite there yet with the Earthquakes.
- I’m requesting all of our current favorites from the library now (December 2019) and plan to update this once we process everything and see what worked, which we won’t know until at least a few months out. So this is just a compilation of the stuff I KNOW won’t work, and why it’s junk (so you can avoid it!)
- I also have a separate booklist on perspectives, showing kids how what they see as a horrible insult might just be an accident or miscommunication. Helpful in connection with these, but that will have to wait for later.
- Also maybe-helpful, this 2016 request thread by Mindy T. on no-hitting books for toddlers. I’ll have to sort this one out when I refine this list, since some of these books are problematic.
Quick & Messy Book List:
Trying these out again – for kids who don’t realize they are bullying
- ‘Millie waits for the mail’ – Millie is a cow who bullies the mailman (it’s from her perspective, she doesn’t realize she’s being a bully) and we discussed how what she thinks is fun is very unpleasant for the mailman. Eventually things escalate and she learns how her actions hurt people. It’s worth a try at least since the book itself is HILARIOUS and worth a read aside from the bully theme. she make amends by becoming his mail cow and loves cooperating with him even more than scaring him. the illustrations are hilarious with millie (a huge cow) hiding in things like wheelbarrows and trees. 2.5 & 4.5 enjoyed it. Perspective
- Henry and the Kite Dragon – Perspective
- Horrible Bear – perspective
- the good dog and the bad cat – todd kessler. tells the story from the POV of the bully (we don’t know that until the book is almost over.) gives us a perspective on how bullies think their actions are justified and reminds us that we need to think before we judge people. labeling them as ‘a good’ or ‘a bad…’ gives me pause, but i think this highlights the problem with using those words to describe individuals rather than actions so we can discuss it. on the 3rd read and beyond, the kids start to squirm with discomfort because they know the dog is in the wrong – hopefully they will remember that the next time they feel justified in attacking someone, perspective
- Dragon Was Terrible – Growth mindset
- the way i act – too advanced for 28m, better for 4.5y. not interesting, but nice to introduce these words (capable) they identified with watching a boy sweep. would be great for reading to a single kid and discussing what they do when they feel like this.
- I’m furious- crary – best for 4+, Q was excited to see this both at 4 and 7, loves reading all the different scenarios and finds it very engaging despite the dry illustrations and simple storyline. was perfect for him since the story is about a little brother who destroys an older brother’s baseball cards, and it gave us a chance to discuss how it feels when that happens and how we can react to it, since it’s very topical for the way Q feels and why he hoardes so many things (peaked at ages 5-6), scripts for impulse control, tantrums & outbursts, redirecting anger
- anh’s anger – boy gets angry because grampa makes him stop playing, has to go to his room to ‘sit with his anger’ and has no iea how to do that, meets an anger monster and they try out iffernet ways to work out anger. both boys enjoyed it at 3&5. Normalizes Asian family, asian boy protagonist., redirecting anger
Psychological Bullies (Kids who intimidate others)
- Alan’s big scary teeth – alan has big scary teeth and likes to intimidate and scare the other creatures int the jungle. turns out he’s really insecure because his teeth are false teeth. once he’s found out, his worst fears happen and everyone laughs at him. when he finally starts to cry and shows his vulnerability, the animals show kindness, and they realize that they can work together, and he can use his teeth to help, not scare (trimming trees, opening cans).
Worthless & Dismissive
No Hitting Henry! (regan) – i like the layout where they give you choices in scenarios, but text isn’t great. “Follow Henry as he finds himself in tricky situations in which he must learn to stop hitting and choose to stay calm.” like no – he can be angry and change his behavior, but he can’t CHOOSE to feel calm. also weird syntax feels like it’s written for presentation slides, not for kids. gives scenarios and “what should henry choose to do?” and at 4 & 6, they KNOW what they should choose to do. But what tools are we giving them to get from knowing to doing?. i also don’t agree with all the scenarios – a kid takes his train and the correct option is to tell a grown up, which I disagree with – he should handle it on his own. most kids act out not because they don’t know better, but because they don’t have the self-control to do better. i feel like a book like this would just make them feel like losers the next time they lose control. also gives options without proper scripts “Tell Janeka that she needs to join the end of the queue” is not going to end well, it sounds bossy and commanding, as a child will translate this into a direct command. author has other poorly-written titles like “don’t be sad, sam.” and “don’t get angry, annie” DUDE WHAT NO. Get angry, Annie! Own your anger! Use it! Just don’t hit.
Peace, baby! – linda ashman – meh. tries to say try being peaceful instead of hitting, but skips past the hard part of acknowleding those emotions, talking them through, and working on it. makes it look deceptively easy, which sucks for kids who are told they should use hands not hitting, but not how to translate between those two and get to that point. simplistic to the point of frustration “Sasha, bouncing on the bed, conks you on your sleepy head. You could hit her, or instead, try pace, baby.” like what? How exactly does she ‘try peace?’ SHE’S A BABY. Spell it out! Dismissive of the valid feelings conflicts like this bring up, like kids are expected to just quench emotions and exercise complex social diplomacy thing without any tools.
Armond goes to a party – nancy carlson – this is NOT a book about bullying, but we use it to demonstrate how Armond’s friend and mother are pressuring him to do things that make him uncomfortable. What they are doing is more coercion and child abuse than bullying, but it’s a good way to illustrate how they can abuse and ignore someone’s agency when they think they are doing good. Be VERY careful with this one, as the author intends to paint the abusers in the right.
When I feel angry – spelman – okay for 3yo, but a bit too advanced with examples like people making fun of him (which doesn’t happen until closer to late 4). I’m not sure R2 got anything out of this at 3, and it’s too babyish to bother Q at 5. Book feels to didactic and boring for a 5yo. This is fine but it’s not entertaining and There are better books about managing anger out there. Q doesn’t understand it at 20 months and just ends up hitting and copying the angry guy in the book.
hands are not for hitting- don’t get again, not good, boring. (toddlers – outgrew around 2.5 years)
no more hitting for little hamster – ford & williams -never seen anything more adorable than a cute little hampster going fucking rage on a friend and smacking them, but the focus on the hiting and he resolution being secondary makes his a nope. I do like that he doesn’t hit the one friend who doesn’t label him, but the book puts the onus on victims managing bullies and speaking carefully around them, not on the bullies. it’s also not so easy to magically get a kid with impuse and anger issues to suddenly stop hitting just by getting them to promise not to. adorable but unrealistic. problematic for victim-blaming