Stop the hitting, pushing or screaming – before it begins

two brothers fighting

The children are playing harmoniously but suddenly the quiet is pierced by screams, tears and accusations – “He hit me!” “He took my toy!” You have no idea what happened, but you know you will now be forced to unravel the mess. One word can make all the difference.


There can be magic in this word.

Teach your child that whenever another child does something that frustrates him or makes him mad, he can yell, “Help,” and you will come.

For example, initially when you go to Sam reinforce him for using his words rather than resorting to hitting or pushing back, by giving him what he’s requesting. (This is temporary.) You'll explain to the other child that Sam is learning to use his words, and ask that child what he needs to be happy too. After just a few times Sam will learn he can trust that you will come to help, then you can teach the children to work together using problem-solving skills by saying, "Sam says he would like a turn. When will you be finished, Mica?" Mica replies, "In an hour." That's when you turn back to Sam, who has no idea how long an hour is and say, "Mica says he'll be finished in an hour. What do you want to do while you are waiting?" Help Sam make a plan. You can even turn it into a visual chart of three things he can do while he's waiting. Then turn to Mica to let him know Sam is waiting. You'll find that within minutes Mica is finished and handing over the toy.

Peace can begin with one simple word. “Help!”

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