If I could just hit him!

An exasperated dad of a 12-year-old boy told me “I wish I could just beat him! That would straighten him out.” He went on to explain that as a child he had been frequently beat for misbehaving and he quickly learned not to misbehave. His son had just been suspended from school that day for fighting and he was at wits end trying to figure out how to deal with this boy’s behavior.

Hitting an adolescent is a very bad idea. In Dr. Michael Bradley’s book, Yes, Your Teen is Crazy, he explains it this way:

“You are now officially discharged from the army of hitters of children (if you were ever in that group). As the parent of an adolescent, you must assume the status of conscientious objector. You don’t do violence anymore. You don’t hit, smack, butt, throttle, jab, or even look like you might ever do any of these things. You draw an invisible circle around your kid and you never cross over that line uninvited.

You do this for two reasons. The first is that hitting doesn’t work anyway. The second is that smacking an adolescent is an experience very much like whacking at an old stick of dynamite. Often, it doesn’t explode right away, but when it does, it will demolish everything around it. The question is why would anyone whack at a stick of dynamite or at an adolescent?”

When you’re experiencing this level of challenge and frustration with your child, it’s time to get some outside help. Hitting your child is definitely not the answer.

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