Hello, My 6 year old hit a new nanny we just employed. They had been running around and playing before bedtime and my daughter didn't want to come into the house and go to sleep. So the nanny picked her up to cary her playfully and my daughter said to her "I will slap you" then slapped her! This was done in the middle of them playing. I am totally shocked because this is out of character for her! She is not an angel but my children don't hit!! I understand exactly where my daughters frame of mind was. She didn't like the nanny picking her up and taking her inside and was over excited but I would have never imaged she would hit! The thing that worries me is all that she cared about was that she didn't want to get into trouble. She said "I promise I won't do it again! I won't even hit Sarah (the nanny)". She even refused to apologize at first. I made her come out to Sarah's room and apologize and I made her tell Sarah why she hit and and I told her how it makes Sarah feel. And that Sarah had left her family to come all the way over here and be with us as her new family. I wanted her to understand how bad hitting was and what affect it had on other people. I went on to the point where Sarah ended up crying. which obviously wasn't what I wanted to happen! When I told her what her consequence was (grounded the weekend and no Ipad for 2 weeks) it upset her obviously but I am worried because she's usually empathetic and today I didn't feel she really cared about how Sarah felt! all she cared about was the consequence! How do I make her understand how badly it makes people feel if she is horrible to them or hits them. Generally when she does something wrong she is more worried about the consequences than how she affected people. Having said that she is empathetic and thinks about others in her day to day life.
Good afternoon, I would like to work to assist you today.
I do understand that you are concerned about your daughter's ability to show empathy for the feelings of others, and that you are worried that her concern is more keeping herself out of trouble other than the feelings of others. Can you think of a scenario in the not so distant past where your daughter yourself had been hurt by someone else's actions? (hit by a playmate, scolded by a big brother or sister, etc). An incident that she may have experienced personally, in where she was hurt by the actions of another may be a good place to start in trying to get her to understand the importance of considering the feelings of others.
here is the problem. No one has ever hit her! Or if they have she doesn't remember. I can't think of anything as bad as hitting someone in anger.
And I agree with you completely. Do remember that your daughter is only six, and as you yourself mentioned, she has herself never been hit; this may be a major reason why she doesn't understand how much that can hurt (physically as well as emotionally). Although your daughter has never hit anyone else in the past, there is a first time for many experiences, and this being her first of hitting someone else (it maybe even can be looked at as an experimental action, if you will.) I do think that what you have done so far in speaking to her and explaining that hitting and other negative behaviors hurt other people, and also in taking away the Ipad, which because of her response it appears that she really enjoys. Now for teaching her to have empathy, again, if you can find some event, whether she had been hit, yelled at, lied to, (or hurt in some way), this would be a great starting point to helping her be able to relate to the experience of feeling hurt in some way, of how much she didn't like it, and how you should always treat others the way that she would like to be treated.
There are also many age-appropriate books that discuss hitting. Using tools like books or videos that talk about this issue may be a good way to get through to her as well.
Here is a list of children's books that revolve around teaching children that hitting is wrong and hurts others: http://www.very-clever.com/books/hitting
Thank so much!
I will try the books as well as what I have been doing and I hope this is a one off thing.