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Parent Hugging Child
Parent Hugging Child

How to react when child screams, kicks, bites

We are grown ups. They are kids. They learn to live by our rules and to behave as they are expected to. They have an innate, instinctive need to express their will, but they don’t know how to control their impulses. In such complicated situation, why some parents understood kicking, biting and scratching as a reflection of bad upbringing of children, especially when they are less than four years?

Children can upset us very easily, so many parents, instead of always having in mind that they are adults, and that the work of children is to act like ones, they descend on the level of a three-year-old and start screaming, and sometimes even respond to a child with a hit. That can resolve the problem currently, but in fact it will make the situation worse. The moment we lose control over ourselves, we stop being authority to children. Because they feel that very well and because of that children feel insecure, but powerful. In such situations, punishment produces fear, distrust and aversion.

Finally, these disciplinary measures don’t work because they don’t deal with what children are actually trying to tell you, and that is that they desperately need your help in order to express their emotions.

Your point of view and attitude

If you, as an adult and a mature person, are able to accept the behaviour of your child as a temporary “madness”, the call for help, your role and response to this situation becomes much more clearer and better. When you realise it, it becomes bizarre to you the thought that on their misbehaviour you respond with: “How can you treat me like that? I’m your mother, I’m doing so much things for you!

Instead, as a mature and a sane person, you will say: “I see that it is hard for you to stop hitting, so I will help you and hold you in my arms.” Or you can say: “I will not let you hit. You are so anxious that I needed to take my phone away when you wanted to play with it. We will wait for you to calm down and then you will get the phone.

“I won’t let you bite me. That hurts. I will put you down and give to you something that you can bite and in that way nobody gets hurt.


The secret, dear parents, is in fact in allowing the child to express his emotions in controlled environment. Children are doing that in an only way they know, because control over emotions is learned at a later age. They can’t do it otherwise. And if you make them to repress their emotions, if at their call for help you respond with screaming, aggression, ignoring, things will not get better. That help of yours to express their anger, sadness or fear is an anchor for them to keep them safe, and your patience and understanding are the only things that can help them one day to learn to cope with their own emotions in a right way. Don’t teach them to suppress feelings.

And when a wave of anger and rage passes, they will still need you to tell them that their feelings are normal, to forgive them and understand them. After all, how can we be angry at someone whose feelings and impulses are bigger than himself?

The beauty of this kind of response to children’s “excesses” is the fact that children with parents who don’t lose control feel safe. They know that their behaviour will not derail us and they know that they have the support to express their feelings.

With the certainty that Mommy and Daddy will always help when they are needed, even if we are not in the best mood, children feel able to fight without fear of mistake, to grow and to develop self-confidence.

Finally, to children should not be allowed any behaviour and that is not the point of this article. Setting boundaries, decisively, but with respect to the child’s personality, is the best way to teach them to understand the world in which they live and to feel safe in it.


  1. Please help; my 3 year-old daughter has always had, and still has, crying/tantrum episodes every single day when it’s time for bath and teeth brushing. Bedtime is so stressful EVERY DAY! And this is not the only time she is out of control. I have tried it all; routine, stories, positive reinforcement, games, etc, etc., still, nothing works. We can’t figure it out…we would appreciate your input…I’m all ears!!! Thanks!!

  2. Please be patient while we are preparing possible solution for you.

    In the meantime, you can take a look at this article http://www.lifehealthandparenting.com/your-baby-is-crying-here-are-the-reasons-why/

  3. My baby is already 5 years old, but I can remember the bath and teeth brushing and bedtime horror like it was yesterday. I had some advice from my mother; my favorite was time-outs…sparingly. Depending on the child, using a time-out occasionally, beginning at about the age of 18 months, may help him manage his feelings better when he has a tantrum. A time-out can be helpful when your child’s tantrum is especially intense and other techniques aren’t working.
    Placing your child in a quiet, or – better yet – boring spot for a brief period (about one minute per year of his age) can be a good lesson in self-soothing. Also there are videos online on how to talk with your toddler correctly. Most of them are rubbish, but few are gold. I found this one helpful http://bit.ly/1iMHWYm good luck!

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