Hitting: How To Stop Your Child From Fighting at School

My son recently started first grade. He is having a problem with fighting both at day care and at school. What can I do to get him to stop?

--Nicole
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Robert Schwebel

Clinical psychologist Robert Schwebel, PhD, has been in private practice for almost 30 years, counseling children, couples and... Read more

Good for you for recognizing a problem and wanting to do something about it early. I suggest you think along these lines:

1) What are his skills? How well does he play with other children and make friends? You can teach him how to join in and play with other children. For example, if the other kids are doing an art project, say, drawing a mural, he might ask them, "Could I draw the trees?" You can also teach him how to invite other children to play with him--either at school or at home. There are many social skills to learn at this age.

2) Consider whether he is getting enough sleep. Sometimes a whole day of school and day care is exhausting.

3) Review his television-viewing habits. Too many children's shows are violent--even cartoons and shows on the Disney channel. Children begin to imitate this as a way to handle conflict.

4) Think about whether there is something going on--at home or school--that is particularly upsetting or making him angry. If so, give him a chance to talk it out.

5) You can help your son learn to manage anger and frustration. Teach him appropriate ways of dealing with these feelings: for example, telling a teacher when provoked or asking for help when frustrated.

6) Talk with his teacher and day-care provider so you adopt a common strategy to help your first grader.

Do not expect an overnight change, but watch for gradual improvement. He is still very young and just learning about how to deal with his feelings and his peers.

-- Dr. Robert Schwebel

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