Getting kicked in the ribs hurt. And when you see a child kicking another child, it’s code red for teachers. There are a lot of children’s books that can help prevent such situations, and one of my favorites is Feet Are Not for Kicking by Elizabeth Verdick.
The book playfully shares about feet, such as what they look like and what you can use them for. There are also examples for activities, such as counting toes and gross motor movements.
However, the portions around kicking are the ones I focus on the most. The book shares that kicking other children is not preferred. There is even a sample message about what a child can say when someone is kicking them. From there, the book gives examples of what you can kick, such as a ball or leaves.
This two step process – explaining what children shouldn’t do and instead what they can do – is a solid process for changing behaviors. We tend to tell children what they can’t do, such as not kicking others, and leave it at that. Children who hear this may not do it again, but may extend your message to mean that all forms of kicking is negative; and that is not true.
Separating the physical development skill from an emotionally fueled outburst is important: kicking is fine and can be great fun, just make sure you don’t kick other people.