I Hit my Child and Feel Guilty

I Hit My Child and Feel Guilty – Here’s Why!

Parenting comes with challenges, and at times, we might find ourselves resorting to methods we later regret, like hitting our children. This article aims to address the guilt that often follows such actions. It explores ways to manage these feelings and offers alternatives that focus on building a positive parent-child relationship.


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Parenting can sometimes lead to using methods we later regret, like hitting our children. This article delves into the guilt that often accompanies such actions and offers ways to manage those feelings. It presents alternatives focused on nurturing positive parent-child relationships, including effective communication, logical consequences, positive reinforcement, and setting clear expectations. Furthermore, studies underscore the negative outcomes of physical punishment. By adopting alternative methods, parents can create a nurturing environment that promotes growth, emotional well-being, and a more harmonious family dynamic.

Top Questions

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Hitting a child can cause emotional harm, erode trust, and lead to negative behavior patterns. Research shows it’s linked to increased risk of mental health issues, substance abuse, and strained relationships in the future. Positive discipline methods foster healthier emotional development.
No, hitting a child is not an effective or healthy way to discipline. It can lead to long-term negative consequences for their emotional well-being and behavior. Seeking non-violent methods like communication, understanding, and setting boundaries is crucial for their growth and your relationship.
Feeling bad after punishment shows your empathy and concern for your child’s well-being. It’s natural to question whether your actions were appropriate. Use this guilt positively by learning from it, seeking healthier discipline methods, and prioritizing your child’s emotional and psychological development.

Feelings of Guilt

Addressing Feelings of Guilt

1. Understanding Why You Feel Guilty:

Feeling guilty happens when you want to help your child behave well, but you’re uncomfortable because you’ve caused them some harm. This guilt shows that you care a lot about how your child is doing.

2. Thinking About How You Teach Your Child:

Thinking About How You Teach Your Child

Pause and reflect on whether resorting to physical punishment constitutes an effective method for facilitating your child’s learning. Consider alternative approaches such as engaging in open conversations, establishing clear boundaries, and motivating them towards positive behavior.

3. Talking and Explaining:

Talking and Explaining

When your child engages in behavior that’s less than desirable, take the opportunity to have a conversation with them. Elaborate on the situation and the reasons behind why their actions are unacceptable. This presents a moment for you to assist them in comprehending and gaining knowledge from the experience.

4. Saying Sorry and Showing Good Ways:

Saying Sorry and Showing Good Ways

If you feel like you did something wrong, say sorry to your child. This shows them that grown-ups can make mistakes too. Also, show them how to solve problems without getting angry, and that it’s okay to feel sorry.

5. Getting Help and Learning:

Getting Help and Learning

Ask other parents or people who know about kids for help. They can give you good ideas about how to teach your child without using physical punishment. Learning these new ideas can make you feel more confident and less guilty.

6. Turning Guilt into Something Positive:

Turning Guilt into Something Positive

Change your guilty feelings into actions. Promise to learn more about how to be a good parent and then actually do what you learn. This will help you become better at parenting and make your relationship with your child stronger.

7. Making Your Bond Stronger:

Making Your Bond Stronger

Try really hard to make a strong connection with your child. When they feel that you love them a lot, they will listen to you better and follow your guidance.

8. Checking How You’re Doing:

Checking How You're Doing

Keep watching how you’re teaching your child in new ways. Notice the good changes in how they behave and how you feel less guilty about it.

12 Nonviolent Ways to Teach Kids Discipline

12 Positive Alternatives to Physical Punishment for Disciplining Children

1. Effective Communication:

Talk to your child calmly and explain why their behavior is not acceptable. Encourage them to share their feelings and thoughts as well. This helps build understanding and promotes better behavior.

2. Time-Outs:

Give your child a break by using time-outs. This allows them to reflect on their actions and gives you both a chance to calm down before discussing the issue.

3. Logical Consequences:

Link the consequence to the behavior. For example, if your child doesn’t clean up their toys, they temporarily lose the privilege of playing with them.

4. Natural Consequences:

Let your child experience the natural outcomes of their actions, as long as it’s safe. If they refuse to wear a coat, they might feel cold and learn from the experience.

5. Positive Reinforcement:

Praise and reward your child for good behavior. This encourages them to continue behaving well and boosts their self-esteem.

6. Set Clear Expectations:

Establish clear rules and expectations for behavior. This provides a consistent framework that helps your child understand what’s expected of them.

7. Redirection:

If your child is engaged in unwanted behavior, redirect their attention to a different activity or task. This helps them shift focus without negative feelings.

8. Use “I” Statements:

Use “I” statements to describe how you feel. For example, say, “I feel sad when toys are left out” instead of using blaming language.

9. Problem-Solving Together:

Involve your child in finding solutions to problems. This empowers them and teaches valuable conflict resolution skills.

10. Be a Role Model:

Model the behavior you want to see. Show your child how to handle frustration, anger, and conflict in a healthy way.

11. Time-In:

Spend quality time with your child doing activities you both enjoy. This strengthens your bond and reduces the likelihood of negative behaviors for attention.

12. Use Humor:

Diffuse tense situations with humor when appropriate. Laughter can break the cycle of negativity and help your child learn from their mistakes.


A study published in the journal “Pediatrics” in 2020 found that corporal punishment, including hitting, is associated with an increased risk of child physical abuse, mental health problems, and substance abuse later in life.

Another study, published in the journal “Child Abuse & Neglect” in 2021, found that parents who hit their children are more likely to experience guilt and anxiety about their parenting.


Choosing alternatives to hitting not only helps discipline children effectively but also nurtures their emotional well-being. By fostering communication, using logical and natural consequences, and modeling positive behavior, parents can guide their children towards growth and development. Remember, seeking healthier methods of discipline can lead to a more respectful and loving family dynamic.


Question: I hit my daughter this morning and I feel terrible about it. How can I make things better for both of us?

Answer: It’s important to apologize sincerely to your daughter. Have an open conversation, explaining your actions weren’t right and that you’re working on changing. Focus on positive discipline methods, like talking and setting boundaries, to strengthen your relationship and create a safer environment.

Question: How do I get over the guilt of hitting my child?

Answer: Acknowledge your feelings of guilt as a sign of empathy. Reflect on why you felt the need to hit and explore alternative ways to discipline. Apologize to your child and yourself, commit to learning better methods, and focus on building a nurturing connection to move beyond guilt.

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