Hello, I am contacting you because I have tried a lot of things to get my 5 y/o daughter not to hit or scratch at school but nothing seems to be working out. She has had times where she is behaving very well for a while and we have tried to reinforce such behavior but this week has been really bad and I don't know what else to do. We have punished her by not watching TV or playing with the computer, we have taken toys away and today I even took the door down from her room.... I explained to her that having a door for her room was a privilege and that with her behavior she wasn't earning it...she wasn't too happy about it but I don't think is the worst thing for her...later on I decided to rehearse with her behaviors that could trigger her frustration, so I played being another kid at school who bother her and taught her how to respond to such situations...we took turns and practiced over and over...I'm desperate, I feel bad for the parents of the other kids (I would be upset too!) but I am a parent who really cares but just don't know what to do...any suggestions??? Thank you!
You're doing the right things-- role playing, improving her communication, and getting her to express herseld. YOu are rewarding and praising to the hilt her good behavior, and giving punishment when behavior is not acceptable.
The best thing to do I think is to have a systematic plan-- to have a behavior chart appearing where your daughter can see it. Explain to her what each of the marks on the chart is, what she needs to do to earn rewards, what she need to do to earn punishments. Then stick to it -- retraining behavior can take a few months.
If after a few months there is no change in behavior at all, or things get worse, its time to seek professional evaluation to get some assistance in helping her with this issue.
I would suggest trying positive reinforcement. Ask the teacher to keep a record for you, everyday, of her behavior, (my mother did it for my sister when she was 5 as well and had behavior problems at school) and have that sent home with her everyday. Get a glass jar and some sort of decorative colorful gems, or marbles to use as a reward system. Then set up a list of things that she needs to do in order to earn the marbles and have each thing be worth a certain amount, saying please-3 marbles, not hitting-5 marbles. but also make a list of things of that she'll lose the marbles for, so if she hits you, take away 4 marbles. Make sure you have a list though, don't vary the amount based on how you feel or how bad the situation was. At the end of the week let her turn in some of her earned marbles to do something, if she wants to watch TV for an hour that will cost her 3 marbles every time. Have some big rewards like a new toy, a friend can come over, a trip to the movies, something she loves to do or would want to have that she would need to save up the marbles for. Every day for the first week you start this, help her do things to get marbles, brush her teeth in the morning, make her bed, keep her room clean, so she can see how many marbles she could earn by just doing what you asked. Show her how close she is to a big reward like a new toy or a trip to a park. If she starts getting negative marbles, don't allow any excursions besides school. Ask her if she's happy this way, no stuff and no fun. Tell her if she'd follow the new rules she could be having fun . Ask her to try the reward system for a week, to see if she's more happy then don't let her leave her room (in time out) until she promises to try. Tell her if she made her bed she'd get 5 marbles which is enough marbles to watch a movie, and wouldn't she rather be watching a movie then sitting in her room, alone, and upset? If she keeps howling or ignoring you, leave the room, tell her you'll help her but you'll only help her when she's ready to talk and she asks for your help. Check in on her every so often and ask her if she's ready to talk or if she needs your help to make the bed (or whatever chore will earn her some marbles) if she says no, leave, don't say anything else. When she does come out and ask for your help, or she does answer yes. Just go in and help, don't give her a triumphant looks, don't say anything about the pervious behavior, go in help make the bed, make sure she does most of it, use a calm tone, then give her the marbles you promised her, and ask if she would like to watch a movie or save them for something else. Give her a hug, tell her you love her, and that's it. No big lecture, no disapproving looks or tone. It sounds like she's stubborn and you don't want her to feel that if she gives in, you're going to hang it over her head that you won. She needs to feel like your on her side, you want her to get those marbles. If she scratches in school, cut the fingernails back to stubs, and/or let her have her nails painted at a nail shop. Tell her only girls who don't hit can have their nails painted at a real nail shop. Make her proud of her hands. Then tell her again that she can't hit or scratch with pretty nails or it's coming off. Make her repeat it back to your what will happen. If you sense her getting in a hitting mood at home, ask her what will happen if she hits. Tell her she can go to her room and hit a pillow but not people. If she doesn't listen, take the polish off right then. The next week ask her if she wants to try again. Entice her with the nail decals of hearts or whatever so she wants to have them painted, but go over the rule. My sister grew out of that phase pretty quick once we used the reward system and got her to talk about why she does the things she does and if she were in charge what would she do to the child who hit. Allow her to answer, don't always shoot down her answers either, and don't let her try to steer the conversation to something else. Every time she gets in trouble sit down and talk about it. Get her to use her words, not her hands to communicate.
This are all great suggestions...I think the idea of her getting her nails painted is wonderful! She is very girly and into her looks, so I know that she would love that! I will try it this week and see how it goes...Again, thank you all for responding to my concern, your thoughts are greatly appreciated!!!
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