The Read Balloon: Hands Are Not For Hitting

great kids' booksIt’s a little depressing to walk into one’s local bookstore and utter the words, “So ah, do you have a book called Hands Are Not For Hitting?” Which is just what I did the other day. Doctor’s orders, literally. I know, yikes. For the past couple of weeks, little angel-face Harper has been hitting her friends and sometimes random other youths. Never us or her brother, but I think we get the message, right? It’s the weirdest thing – it’s not when she’s mad, and most of the time it’s just an airy, obviously symbolic swat. She often seems a little surprised afterwards.

“What I did?” she asked as I dragged her out of the sandbox the other day (baby strapped to my chest, of course – ever the graceful image of motherhood, that’s me!). “Why I hit that Elmo-child?” The kid in the Elmo shirt was sitting there stunned, having just been gently bonked in the forehead with his own shovel. “I don’t know, Harper, maybe because you’re suffering the light psychosis that is being 2? Or because it is precisely 5:00, your evil-time?”

It’s funny, too, because my horrified reaction to this training-wheels-bullying reveals to me a weird expectation I subconsciously harbor that Harper will behave like I did as a child. “Did I ever hit?” I asked my mother recently. She reported that she could never recall me hitting or doing anything physical like that. “With you at that age it was more that you were, ah, a bit, high-strung. Real, ah…sensitive.” So I burst out into tears and cried, “WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?”  No but really, the hitting thing is just so weird and foreign to me, and I know it’s a normal developmental whatever but also it is a bummer.

So anyway, Dr. Deena prescribed Hands Are Not For Hitting. Harper has really been into it, which for some reason surprised me. It’s a really simple board book, which has not been her thing lately. (We are still in the grips of the achingly long Charlie and Lola’s…) But these “Free Spirit” people know what they are doing. At first I was a little disappointed that the book doesn’t go into why kids hit or don’t hit – it just matter-of-factly says, “Hands are not for hitting. Hands are for…” and then lists nice things like “saying hello” or “playing.” Huh? But really, isn’t that the need-to-know at this point? “Listen, kid, just don’t.”

And while I can’t say it’s totally stopped the hitting, she does ask to read it a lot, and studies the cheery illustration of a plethora of hands for long periods of time. She “read” it to Alton recently after he was thrashing his hands around wildly, and explained to him that hitting makes friends sad. So there you go! Should you find yourself in need of an anti-hitting propaganda picture book, here you are. Hands are not for hitting. Repeat after me. Hands are for…turning book pages…typing…blogging. But hands are not for hitting.

Hands Are Not For Hitting

Hands Are Not For Hitting, by Martine Agassi, Ph.D., and illustrated by Marieka Heinlen. Recommended by Harper and Dr. Deena.

2 responses to “The Read Balloon: Hands Are Not For Hitting

  1. I know a young man (I’ll call him “K”) who at a certain age started pushing kids down. I recall him being more like 4. We didn’t have a book and our exhortations and attempts as behavior modification didn’t work.
    One day at the Brookfield Zoo in suburban Chicago ,K pushed a seven year old. The seven year old pushed back hard. K hit the ground. His parents were suitably apologetic. K cried and cried.
    I didn’t consider it a “teachable moment” but as far as I know, K never push another kid.
    The law of the zoo…

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