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Appropriate punishment for hitting

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I don't like to use the word punishment but I think thats what I need to use here. My 4 year old son has been hitting my 2 1/2 year sone alot lately. It is unacceptable. I have tried giving him a time out or "break" from his brother but that is not working. What do you do about hitting. He is certainly old enough to understand that hitting is wrong.
post #2 of 13
I wouldn't expect anything to work right away. It could be the time-out will work later. We give dd timeouts for hitting us, and she still hits almost every day, but I don't think we should stop. I think it's important to teach consistency. Or maybe taking away some other privilege instead of or in addition to the time out would help.

In the meantime, I wouldn't leave him alone with his brother.
post #3 of 13
The trouble with "punishing" an angry child by arbitrarily revoking privilages, is that you end up making him angrier. And I say this as a mama whose tried it, and then watched her child spiral out of control in ever increasing frustration and rage.

There have been a number of threads here about 4 year olds and "hitting." I think that its the age. I really believe that age 3-5 yo. is a stage of new and deeper understanding, and that children experience very strong feelings in reaction to things they can see around them that maybe they couldn't see before. Then they just don't know what to do with their strong feelings.

I really think it is critical at this age to give our children alternatives to hitting, in addition to "time out" or "time away" to cool off. And I think it can be very helpful to actually role play or act out, "Next time you feel angry, what will you do instead of hitting?" Help them rehearse the process of using their words to say, "I'm angry!!" And "Mom, can you help me solve this problem!"

I don't think the results will be immediate. I think that your child will gradually transition from hitting to using words, with LOTS of practise and reminders.

I also feel that part of my job as a disciplinarian is to listen to my child when he does use his words, even if his strong feelings are hard for me to accept. Its esp. hard when they express negative feelings about a sibling -- my inclination is to talk them out of it! But I think its important to listen and be understanding. They are more likely to use words (and stop hitting) if they feel heard and understood.

Thats just my 2 cents based on what my children needed/need at that age. My younger one is 2 months from his 4th birthday, so I've been trying to get a jump start on this stuff with him!

Hang in there, mama!

.
post #4 of 13
What I found that has worked for us, is redirecting my son (3 1/2) to another activity when he does something that is inappropriate. Most of the time, I get out the crayons and construction paper and ask him to draw me a picture of how he feels. A friend of mine had suggested this, and at first I didn't think he would be able to communicate through drawing, what he was feeling. But the first tme we tried this, he was "taking a break" (I don't like "time-out") because he pushed his sister down. And what he drew was a picture of him laying on a bed. He said he was tired. He wasn't going to admit that he needed to rest until he had an outlet to show me. Other times he has drawn really dark circles and has said that "sis is driving me nuts!". Even if he doesn't get an emotion out, whatever was bothering him usually subsides with taking a break from the situation, calming himself down, without being "punished." Just a suggestion.

Susan
mommy to Aidan (3 1/2), Fiona (2), and little boo edd 10/27/04
post #5 of 13
a friend suggested to me that the one who is acting out is the one in the most pain. It helps me to think about that sometimes.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
These are some great suggestions. Thank you! I am definatly going to try thr drawing a picture
Sebrina
post #7 of 13
thanks for the post and suggestions. 4.5 yr old dd hit 9 month ds the other night. didn't know what to do.
post #8 of 13
Just wanted to add a and a second on Soogie's suggestion. DS loves to draw and he himself initiated drawing as a way to cool down. Once I realized this was a soother for him, it was easy to redirect behavior. This thing is, aggressive feelings and behaviors are normal, for everybody. Young kids need outlets, alternatives and ways of learning about and dealing with these very normal thoughts and actions.

Ultimately, I'd like DS to be able to use words to express his strong feelings, but at this young age, it's easy to see that words are often times not enough for him to really release those strong emotions. Sheesh, I'm 37 and STILL struggle with "using my words." *sigh*

I try to remind myself often that if DS isn't acting right, it's because he isn't feeling right (Mary Kurcinka - Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles). Getting to the root of the issue, and helping DS through it is often times the best and only route to preventing the behavior in the future. For me, it's about taking time to really focus on DS (admittedly easier because he's an only child), play with him and learn about what's going on in his world. Recently, DS had taken to hitting his favorite playmates year old brother. I was initially mystied and frustrated. After taking some time to really focus on DS, I learned he was having sibling rivalry issues with the babe. Once uncovered, it was easy to see that DS was role playing the scene often (he's big on pretend and role play) and trying to work through it. I joined him one day and somewhere along the line, he seems to have worked through it. *shrug* Sometimes kids themselves can be the very best guide for how to deal with what's ailing them. They still need our help in tuning in though.

Best of luck and hang in there!
post #9 of 13
I tried the "drawing it out" method.......... dd freaked and told me how stupid my idea was. :

She does NOT like ppl making suggestions to her. Imagine that. At four, she already knows everything :LOL
post #10 of 13
Kids, Parents and Power Struggles talks about identifying your child's personality type and responding to their behavior issues with repspect to who they are. For instance, if your child is very rational and logical -- first address the facts of the problem and don't try to empathize with feelings until the problem is clearly defined. However, if your child is very emotional and dramatic -- then immediately and thouroughly empathize and relate to the intense feelings. Only address the problem when you child feels adequately empathized with. I suspect the "Draw Your feelings" thing relates to personality as well. First of all, if your child even likes to express him/herslef with art. Second of all, would she be better with "drawing her feelings," or with "drawing the problem."
post #11 of 13
Soogie, I love your idea of drawing! I can't wait to try it with my ds.

I would recommend reading The Continuum Concept - for anyone who is using "punishment" or "discipline" of any kind. I think that when you draw attention to a behavior and punish the child in any way, you are sending a message to the child that you believe he/she doesn't really know better - that he/she is "anti-social" - and that just makes the problem worse.

Children imitate adults, and when they stray off the path, I think the thing that makes it worse is acting like they need to be "taught" to act differently. Generally, if the adults are not hitting or spanking, children will only do it as a phase, like biting while breastfeeding, and then it goes away if you redirect.

Does that make sense?

MisfitMama
post #12 of 13
The other thing its worth paying attention to in these posts is the mention of being tired. I've often found that my 4 1/2 YO is a lot worse when he's not getting enough sleep. Every time he starts driving me nuts with negative behaviour, I've looked and realized his bedtime has slipped back to "too late" again. We re-adjust and things generally get better.
post #13 of 13
There's definitely some good ideas here. But I have a question for anyone...
I have a 7.5 yo who never hurts our little 8mo dd, but has been getting in trouble at school a lot. Not for anything too bad, just not following directions and other things like that. We've tried everything and finally I think that is starting to get better. But just yesterday (After three days in a row of doing great in school) he ends up getting in trouble at his after school camp for really hitting someone. He started out just kind of pushing and then ended up tackling this kid and hitting him with a water bottle!!!!! I was apalled! Unfortunateky when the two of them get together, they always get in trouble. I don't know what to do about it! The camp won't let him go today, and I didn't really get mad at him. I made him not play last night when he got home and asked him to sit and think about why he wouldn't want that happening to him. I hope that's enough??? Any ideas on how to help him not get like that with certain friends who incite that kind of anger?

Sorry for the book!!!!
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