8 year old girl who has started hitting

Michelle - posted on 04/22/2013 ( 4 moms have responded )

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I have an 8 year old little girl. She is the sweetest most compassionate kid you will ever meet. But within the last couple of years we have noticed that she shuts down. If she even thinks you are getting onto her she will stop making eye contact, refuse to speak, and becomes unmanageable. She acts this way for at least an hour after then just seems to snap out of it. But recently she has started lashing out. She has been bullying her sister, hit me, throwing things and lying. We have tried everything that we can think of putting her to bed, talking to her, taking away her stuff, a spanking, time out but nothing is working. We put her in therapy for a while but were told that the practice was to medicate then try and figure out the problem. I am not a fan of unnecessary meds. Any advice you can give will be a great help. thank you

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First off, therapy is a good thing, but take her to a psychologist, not a psychiatrist. A psychologist does not medicate--they are not even allowed to medicate. Obviously the practice you took her to is nothing but a pharmaceutical distributor. The common practice is NOT to medicate first--in fact, you must know the problem before you can properly medicate. Furthermore, medication will alter her responses in a way that will prohibit anyone from figuring out what is causing her to shut down.

Outside of therapy, here are some tips that have helped others deal with anger/resentment/opposition.

As often as possible, do not "get on to her" or correct her. Let her experience the consequences of her own actions. This takes the blame off of you, and puts her in control of both her actions, and the outcomes, so she is forced to take responsibility. For example, if you tell her to wash up for dinner and she refuses, she misses dinner.
If she refuses to clean her room by a set time (or in our house we have a rule that only one toy is out at a time, so if more than one toy is out) pick up the toy yourself, but instead of putting it in her room, donate it to a charitable organization (take it to a drop box collector so you don't have to deal with a sympathetic clerk). Think about things you constantly "get onto her" about, and try to come up with alternative consequences in advance. That way, when it happens, you won't be put on the spot. If something comes up you hadn't thought of, don't panic and do the best you can, but think about it afterwards so you will be prepared next time.

Similar to Julie's reflection chair, we have a "calming glass" (J named it). It is just a glass salsa jar filled with water, glitter, and a few glass beads. When he is upset, he shakes it until he gets the energy out (he decides how much to shake it), then he sits it on the table and watches until all of the stuff inside settles to the bottom. During that time, his brain will automatically sort out the situation--he'll get his emotions in check, and formulate a plan of action to remedy the situation.

When J was younger, I used to help him write down why HE was upset (usually because I was upset, so we would move to why I was upset), then we would brainstorm different ways we both could have handled the situation to avoid getting upset.


You have to eliminate "punishment" completely. You should only be using discipline or learning techniques with her at this point. If you cannot relate the consequence directly to her action, it is the wrong consequence. Does that make sense? It's hard to explain because our culture is so centered on punishing children rather than teaching them. Think of ALL of your daughter's bad behavior as "mistakes" rather than deliberate actions. Think of it like she is displaying the bad behavior because she does not yet know what good behavior to put in it's place. (This does NOT mean that you've failed at teaching her the good behavior, only that she is in a place in her life where she is encountering new emotions for the first time, and you have to teach her to deal with them on her own. As a baby and a toddler, you delt with them for her, which is what parents do, now it's her turn--she's got a good foundation, because she watched you, but she could only see the outside of what you did, now it's time to learn the internal steps)

Renata - posted on 05/29/2013

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i agree with you, I don't think starting any child on meds is the proper solution. if medication needs to be prescribed, it should be when all other methods have failed.

It seems to me, and correct me if I am wrong, but when you say "getting onto her" I assume you mean that she is being caught doing something she shouldn't. My son does something similar. If he says something and other people find it funny or cute and they laugh (in a good way) he gets very angry and begins to cry as if his feelings were hurt or that he is embarrassed, and it usually ends with him storming off and slamming his bedroom door shut. I just try to be very consistent with what I say to him during these outbursts. I start by acknowledging his problem and I empathize with what he is feeling. Then I tell him why what he said was funny to the grown-ups, and then I pump him up, I say "you know not everyone can make people laugh, so you have a very special skill. I mean you're so good cuz you weren't even trying. Then I tell him that when grown ups laugh at something you say it's not a bad thing. I tell him that it startles some grown ups when a young child says big words or says things that kids don't normally say. So they are not laughing because you're being stupid or that you have a rip in your pants, its the opposite you've made them happy and happy people laugh. Then we do some role playing, where he is the grown up and I am him, but we do both scenarios; one where I get laughed at I get angry and throw a fit, and the other where I stay calm and even laugh at myself. The consistency is what will work. It might not happen overnight and sometimes not at all. Sometimes we have stubborn children who refuse to heed our advice. The other big thing is try to talk about what just happened but at a time when she is more calm. Ask her how she is feeling during those times and if she likes that feeling. Ask her why she thinks she feels this way, and if there is anything going on at school. Tell her whatever it is that you love her no matter what and that you wont laugh or be angry. Tell her that you are her mother and you want her to be happy all the time, and when she decides to open up to you, you will stop whatever it is you are doing and you will listen to her without interruptions.

My son began acting strange shortly after he started school, he came home and began acting like an animal and I couldn't figure out where he had seen this behavior. Then one day I got my answer, I asked my son, where did you learn to do this noise and run around like that? He told me his classmates name. The classmate is always in the time out chair at school, and my son is an angel at school. He only tries this out at home just to see what we'll do.

you could do up a sticker board for her and every time she gets through a stressful situation without lashing out or doing anything inappropriate that she gets a sticker. You can make any rules you want, for us we did, 5 stickers got my son a small dollar store toy from a treasure box, this method worked amazingly. Now if there are any bad behaviors that I want my son to stop, I make a new sticker board, get new treasure box toys and the behavior should stop within a month.

I hope I helped a little bit, mothering is hard work. Sometimes we forget to take special time doing the things our kids want us to do. But this could be the moments that shape their character for the future.


Before you consider meds for your young child, do as much research as you can on the drug. Also, look for stories about side effects, because sometimes your doctor won't tell you all the side effect or he might not know all of them. Some medications are given to the patient because it does more good then the bad it does. Don't let your doctor make that decision for you until you have read everything about that drug. I have also heard of some moms who take their child's medication first so she would know first hand what adverse effect the child may face.

oh and I have never met a therapist who pushes medication as a first treatment, so this alone would raise a red flag for me.

I hope that you find an answer and that your child finds the happiness, safety and security, and really believe that she is loved; its something we all want for our children.

Take Care

Gracie - posted on 05/15/2013

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No, don't start her on meds. It'll cause more trouble.

I have used this program called 'Sleep Talk for Children'. It works on the child's subconscious mind. It would be perfect for your little girl. You would be able to see big differences in her behavior. I saw miracles within my son in weeks.

My therapist is Joyce Hue from Malaysia. We communicate via Skype. She only deals with my hubby and I, not with my son. Its worth a try.

Be strong Michelle.

Julie - posted on 04/22/2013

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The first tool that comes to mind is the "Reflection chair" I used it between ages of 8-12
Its a type of "time out" but more age appropriate, and therapeutic.
You tell your daughter to sit in "the chair" (comfortable lounge type) and write down what she did that was wrong (disrespectful, verbally abusive, lying, etc.) why she did it, and one way to handle the situation different in the future. Set the timer for 9 minutes and when it goes off have her read the reflection.
This is a way to get her feelings out on paper, communicate with you in a calm and healthy way and brainstorm new way to change the behavior in the future. Acknowledgements, apologies and forgiveness and new ways of responding all need to be part of a time out sessions, only then are they really effective.

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