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Loving 3 year old has pretty aggressive tendencies...

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
My 3 year old son is a great kid. An amazing sense of humor and very, very verbal.

His default position when he dosen't get his way is to be pretty aggressive. He either says not nice things or to hurt people. He has become known as the problem child in preschool.

I see it happen and it is almost like he is having "testosterone explosions". I watch him and see that he has little control.

My middle son has Autism but is not aggressive. But, I am pretty schooled in positive behavioral techniques b/c of him. We have tried the positive (recognizing when he uses his words when angry, reward for making it through a day w/o hurting) and the negative (time outs, not getting a favorite snack). Nothing seems to be working.

He seems truly sorry after. (He will get mad at me. Bite me and immediately apologize.)

Sure, it could be a phase but the behavior is not acceptable to me and I hate that the other kids are shying away from him.


post #2 of 3
The first thing that jumps out at me is how much attention this behavior is getting at home....you've tried everything, rewards/punishments etc. Sounds like a power struggle going on and also from his perspective, if he fixes his behavior he will stop getting all this attention. Might be time to try something different and stop the behavior with as little to-do as possible. For my DD this usually involves simply removing her little brother from the line of fire or putting her on the counter where she cannot reach anyone to hit/kick, then ignoring the ensuing tantrum and telling her she may come down when she can behave safely around others. She was also biting for awhile and I tried everything and nothing worked except completely ignoring it. I just let her bite (if it was me) and pretended not to notice or stopped the biting without acknowledging.

I've also tried a whole litany of stuff with DD. I'm not sure if this is what made the difference or if it was leaving playroup/playdates the instant somebody got hit, but overall I would say her behavior is less aggressive now at 3.5 than it was closer to 3.

Here's what we've done:
Talking about the victim's feelings (I bet X was really hurt. How do you feel if someone hits you?) and talking about the consequences of his actions (Other kids might not like to play with somebody who hits/Your teacher needs to keep everyone safe. If you hit too many times you may not be allowed to go to school anymore/I'm embarrassed that you are hitting other kids.)

Give him suggestions on how to work out problems. I remind DD all the time to ask to share or ask for a turn after. Practice on playdates or role play.

Play games where self-control is the object, like Red Light Green Light.

You're not alone...since DD has been three I've been really watching this board and it comes up over and over with kids this age.
post #3 of 3
First I want to say that is pretty normal 3 y/o behavior, little self control. I just recently read Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys and the testosterone thing is really just a myth for boys However they do tend to perceive situations as threatening when they might not be and tend to react more aggressively. Have you observed him at preschool to what sorts of things set him off and how the teachers deal with it?
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