Hurting Others

August 25, 2014


Our children sometimes hurt each other without thinking.  Sometimes it is just a way they demonstrate certain emotions such as frustration or anger. Children may bite, scratch, pull hair, push or hit others.  They may express this outlet on other children or towards adults.

If your child is teething, biting is one action that may be harmful to others. To try preventing this, offer your child a teething ring, or something soothing to their gums.

Some children will hurt others just to see what happens.  Typically this gets a big reaction from the victim and the adult that is present.  This reaction from the victim or adult may accidentally reward the child and the problem will likely occur again.  Hurting others may also be a way for your child to get what she wants, such as getting that toy from the other child.

How do I prevent my child from hurting others or myself?

  • Watch your child closely

o   Try to anticipate the problem and prevent it from happening if possible.

o   Act quickly if your child is about to hurt another child.

  • Encourage Good behaviors
  • Help your child get his words out

o   If your child struggles with getting their words out, provide some assistance

o   Sam, try saying “Joe, I would like to play with the ball”. This can avoid great conflict.

What can I do if my child is hurting others?

  • Give clear and calm instruction on what you want your child to do.
  • Practice being gentle with others, with toys, or with pets.
  • If your child continues hurting others, proceed with quiet time or time outs.
  • Return your child to the activity and praise well behavior and being gentle with others.


  • Do not hit/bite your child back. This may seem like it works, but it is not a good idea. Your child may learn to stop hurting you, but will continue to hurt others. This action of parent biting a child back only upsets and confuses the child if you are doing exactly the opposite of what you are telling them they need to do.