Children who have ADHD and children who are on the Autism Spectrum can often engage in behaviors which can cause great disruption and chaos in their home and school environments. I am going to be discussing many of these behaviors and give you some ideas about what you can do to decrease their frequency.
If you were to prioritize which behaviors you wish to get rid of and fast I am guessing that hitting and kicking might be right there at the top of your list. Hitting and kicking others will not fly in any environment. These behaviors will not increase your child's popularity with other kids. And it just may get them kicked out of class or worse yet, retaliation from kids who don't appreciate being kicked or hit. This is one behavior that you cannot ignore or hope it goes away. You have to deal with it head on.
There can be many reasons why a child may engage in these behaviors. My son had some hitting issues because he was not able to understand the differences in social cues. I will explain. He watched and learned how to play the game "TAG" and in this game as you probably well know, kids smack each other on the back and yell "TAG you're IT." My son began to generalize that if he wanted to play with someone he would just smack them on the back. We had to teach him that this behavior was not to be used outside of the Tag game and that he needed to use other methods to gain someone's attention such as through verbal communication or a gentle tap on the shoulder.
There may be many other reasons for your child to want to hit or kick and these may include:
- They are angry or frustrated and kicking or hitting is an outlet.
- Someone has invaded their personal space and this is their way of protecting this space.
- They are hyperactive and silly and their movements are not so intentional but they end up hitting or kicking people in the process.
- They like the reaction it causes in people and they want to get that reaction again.
- They may not understand that their actions can actually hurt someone.
These are but some reasons. I am sure you all could easily add to the list. Okay so what can one do about this?
- Some children may not understand the difference between a gentle touch and actions which could hurt someone. You may need to model how to be gentle as in how to give someone a gentle tap on the shoulder in order to gain their attention. My son had to learn how to pet our dog, for example, instead of being rough. For some kids, you have to teach this directly.
- My rule of thumb is whatever behavior you wish to decrease, you must find a compatible behavior to increase. In other words, you have to find a replacement behavior. If your child is hitting then you must give them something else they can do. You can replace hitting with a tap on the shoulder or a high five. If they want to kick you can say, "You cannot kick me or other people but you can kick this ball." It is good to figure out if you can, the purpose of the behavior.