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Help with hitting

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
My three year old DS is really struggling with hitting and pushing right now. I saw him shove one of his closest friends for no apparent reason --- he just seemed happy and overstimulated --- and he's also started hitting me and his dad and nanny too. It's usually not a punch but more of a flailing in our direction or a collision or something. He is clearly testing the limits with us because he will also hit himself and ask if that is ok, and kind of half hit us and half high five us to see what happens, etc, etc.

I have been reading every parenting book I can get my hands on. The ones I like all emphasize connection over punishment, but also stress the importance of setting clear limits. My issue is that they don't explain how to set those limits! What can you do when the child simply isn't listening? I have tried couch time (family talk time), pleading, explanations, lectures, and even, I am sorry to say, bribery and threats of toys being taken away. Nothing has worked. Any suggestions?

I should add that I believe this hitting is the symptom of an unmet need -- my hours at work have been too long in the last two weeks and things have been tense between DH and me (largely because of DS's behavior!) --- and I am trying to work on those needs but they are not necessarily quick fixes and the hitting needs to stop.

Another issue is that he has figured out that it truly enrages his father --- so much so that it often simply causes his father to leave the room so that he doesn't explode. I think DS likes being able to exert this kind of power over his dad. Complicated issues....
post #2 of 5
Anyone have any advice for this mama?
post #3 of 5
Me too! We are struggling with our DD who will be 4 in Dec. and she just got a new baby sister a month ago. My DH has been losing his cool with her and we need some strategies!
post #4 of 5

Well behaviorally if DH leaving the room to avoid conflict is giving your LO a sense of power, then what needs to happen is he, your LO, should leave the room instead.  It's action and reaction.  If by hitting and acting out, he gets a result that he finds to be pleasant (someone leaves, he feel empowered, etc) then to change his perception he needs to be the one leaving.  Sure there are two sides to this - you play rough with a friend they walk away and don't play with you anymore, that's a consequence and hopefully in the future they change the behavior to avoid the friend leaving.  But it's all about the perception of the child who is acting out.  Sometimes dad shouldn't have to be the one to leave the room.  If he's "behaving" so to speak, then why should he have to get up and leave his activity to pacify someone else? Especially when that person is in the wrong.  Call it a time out, call it removal from being overstimulated, call it a check in and breathe, it's all different words for the same behavior.


In the mean time, sit down with your LO and come up with an arrangement for special time, let him have input as to what it will involve and what kinds of things you will do in order to satisfy his need for attention.  And when he does act appropriately, tell him! Tell him what things you like to see so he knows to repeat those.  Otherwise you might be missing an opportunity to reinforce something and in the meantime he thinks you didn't see it and moves on to the hitting because it does get a response.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks sassyfirechick! I agree with you! Good luck Tillymonster!
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