January 14, 2020 (My Son Hits Other Kids)

My second child is giving me gray hairs on the daily. Like seriously. I feel like I am dropping off a ticking time bomb when I release him to the teachers at school.

My second child is happy go lucky, friendly, smiley, enthusiastic, energetic.

But he is also explosive. He has very little impulse control. While he feels things strongly (including guilt), it often doesn’t hit him until after the fact. Until a friend is sitting on the ground crying, because my son couldn’t control his hands or feet or even his head or mouth.

Because of this, I never know what is going to happen when I pick him up. Will the teacher call me over and take me aside to reveal some new offense? Will I receive more paperwork to review and sign and return?

My kid hits other kids.

In the past, he has bitten other kids, grabbed their hands, or even head butted them.

I understand this is normal. He is, after all, only in kindergarten. This is a time of intense growth, especially in the frontal lobe area of the brain.

Kids these days are expected to do so much at a young age.

When I was young, kindergarten was just a few hours a day, or half day.

Now, most kindergartens are full-day.

I volunteer in my kids’ classrooms. In my son’s kinder class, the kids are expected to be on good behavior for close to 7 hours, from about 8am until 230pm. In class, they are expected to walk, to sit, to follow direction, to keep their hands to themselves, to be quiet, to talk quietly.

There is little room for their exuberance. Their energy.

Yes, they do get recess, twice a day for less than 30 minutes each session.

But that isn’t enough.

I see it every day in the classroom. Kids jumping off things. Kids climbing on chairs. Kids having physical disagreements. I saw five boys fighting over a box of blocks one day, that disseminated into a dog pile of boys grabbing and pulling and scratching and yelling.

The kids run around the room, chasing things they have rolled or thrown.

It is hard to be a kindergartner now.

Instead of playing, the kids are directed by their teachers to learning to read, write, perform simple math calculations.

Instead of getting to go outside as a reward, the kids work hard to be able to use the class iPads, or to watch brief cartoons or other programming on the class video screen (meaning even more sitting still).

I don’t mean to talk trash about kindergarten teachers. I see my kids’ teachers. I know they are working hard every day. And I also know that THEY don’t like the way kindergarten is trending (away from play and more toward academics). The have no choice but to teach their kids this way, because of the expectations set by the school administration and district.

They want to do more art, more music, and to play more games. They want to take their kids outside. The teachers are as frustrated as the children are on the days where they just need to run around.

What does this all have to do with my son and his impulse control problem? (circling back around)

I think my kid is a good kid, who is immature. He has a lot of energy, and he doesn’t always know what to do with it.

The energy (and feelings of all kinds) get bottled up, because there is no real healthy or appropriate time or way to let them out. He is still at an age where he needs to cry to express his feelings, and he doesn’t always feel safe or comfortable doing so in class.

I think forcing him to hold himself in check all day when he would be better off blowing off steam puts him in a position where his still developing brain can’t handle all of the inputs.

When there is just too much, this is why he becomes irrational and impulsive. Sometimes, when things are calmed down and over, he has this look on his face like what have I done? It makes me think of Bruce Banner and his alternate-self The Hulk. Bruce Banner doesn’t know what The Hulk does when The Hulk is in charge, and he often feels really terrible about the things that The Hulk does.

My son is that way. I can tell when he feels really bad because he hides himself away from me, and refuses to meet my eyes or stand close to me.

I think my son would do better in school and would do better with his peers if he could move more in his day. This would give him opportunities to let some of that emotional friction rubbing around inside of him out.

But this is the way it is. Home schooling him right now isn’t an option, though I think it could do him a lot of good to be at home another year.

Is this a blame game? No. I don’t blame the teachers. Yes, I think personal responsibility is important and I don’t let my son think that it is okay to hit his friends.

At the same time, I don’t think that punishing him severely for getting in trouble at school for being unable to control his hands will have any impact. My kid doesn’t think before he acts right now. Punishing him won’t cause him to think because his body is completely out of his control in those episodes (The Hulk is in charge).

So what to do? Even though I feel shame when it is revealed to the other parents that my wonderful angel is the class problem child, I don’t intend to tackle his hitting as a major problem. I don’t think that counseling is warranted or necessary. I think my kid is just that….a kid. An immature kid who has a lot to learn about the world. A kid who isn’t getting all the things he needs right now, and there’s not much that I can do about that right now.

I just know that some more movement freedom would probably resolve a lot of his problems, and alleviate my gray hair issues.

As I type this (and get ready to wrap up this post), I can imagine some of the potential responses from other parents. The call to discipline him, to teach him a lesson about treating other kids a certain way. To take him over my knee and impress upon him the importance of kindness and good manners.

I’m sorry, but I’ve never found that spanking children teaches them anything, aside from the fact that mom/dad gets upset and hits when the child makes a mistake or does something wrong. Seriously, teaching a kid not to hit by hitting him?

Not everyone will agree with me, but spanking a child IS hitting a child. Just because it is on his rear end doesn’t change that fact.

I’ve been on the receiving end of being spanked, and I don’t believe it did much other than cause me to fear and distrust my parents. When the time came when I needed to tell my parents something big and and important, I didn’t feel like I could trust them, and ended up going to the parents of a long-time friend that I knew I could trust.

When my kids are grown, they are going to make bad decisions. When they do, I want them to be able to come to me, and ask me for help. I don’t want them to suffer in silence, because they are afraid of what I might do to them.

As for the hitting problem? We are just going to have to take each day as it comes, one day at a time.

You can find the rest of my personal journal here: https://momadviceline.com/category/personal-parenting-journal-emilys-life/

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