Parenting Tips: How to React When Your Child Hits in Preschool

Child bullying another child

One phone call parents hope they never receive is from a preschool to report that their child hit another child in class. While your first instinct may be to discipline your child about their behavior, it’s important to stay calm and take the time to make it a teachable moment. St. Cecelia Interparochial Catholic School has some tips on how to talk to your young child after they hurt someone else.

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Have Them Explain What Happened

Let your child explain their side of the story before you act. Understanding their mindset and letting them feel heard before you decide how to handle the issue is important. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding, or a game got out of hand. While hitting someone else is never okay, it may have been genuine self-defense or an accident in some circumstances.

If it’s evident that your child purposely hurt someone because they were angry, this is where you need to pull them aside and speak with them more seriously.


Explain Why Their Actions Were Wrong

At times, very young children may not exactly understand that what they did was wrong. In their minds, they may have been justified in their behavior. Perhaps they were feeling angry, hurt, or jealous, and that is how they chose to express it. They need to know it is okay to have big feelings, but they need to make positive choices in acting on them.

As parents and caregivers, it is our job to teach preschoolers how to deal with their emotions appropriately. 

  • Calmly explain why it isn’t okay to hurt others, even if they are feeling angry. 
  • Ask them how they would feel if someone hit them.
  • Discuss what they should have done instead in the situation so they know for the next time. 

Once your child understands why their actions were unacceptable, ask them to apologize when ready. You never want to force a child to apologize if they don’t mean it because it teaches them to lie about how they feel.


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Model The Correct Behavior

Set a good example in your home life to ensure it doesn’t happen again. When your child gets angry, show them how to handle their emotions in a healthy manner. Set an example that rather than physically lashing out in anger, there are better ways to handle your feelings.

Some examples include:

  • Deep belly breathing
  • Sitting in a quiet space to calm down
  • Speaking calmly about who or what upset them. 

Watch how they react to these alternative ways to handle anger from here on out.


Enroll in a Private Catholic School in Florida

St. Cecelia, a Catholic private school in Clearwater, Florida, has a no-tolerance policy for violence. You can ensure your child is in a safe environment while learning at school. If you want to enroll your child in one of our various academic programs, call us at 727-461-1200 or visit our admissions page.

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