Originally Posted by Brigianna
I was little, maybe 5 or 6, I used to recreationally torture my younger cousin. I would pull him away from the adults.... I wasn't trying to get any needs met, it was just fun. Today of course I'm embarrassed at the memory of what a demon-child I was. Fortunately my cousin is a very forgiving man who doesn't hold my demon-child self against the adult I am now. But I certainly didn't have that good motivation. I do today, but that's because of a conscious choice on my part.
I would disagree here -- what if the adults had been paying enough attention so that you couldn't have done this? What if an adult had been 'filling your cup' by playing with the two of you together?
Originally Posted by Brigianna
A 3 yr old isn't immoral when he hits his playmate any more than he's immoral when he mis-remembers the alphabet. But he needs to learn and be taught.
This is waaay waay beyond the scope of this thread, and we still haven't helped the poor OP -- but, this gets to the notion of 'original sin'. I would argue against that -- no a 3 year old isn't immoral, but it's because s/he doesn't have the impulse control, not because s/he needs extrinsic rules to not hurt people.
I can't believe that a 3 year old really wants to hurt someone. It's that s/he can't think of anything better to do, can't take another person's perspective and realize BEFORE the action what the consequences are, and they can't control their impulses. None of that is moral for me. All of that is developmental, and it's part of my job as a parent to help give my child other strategies (using words, and HOW to use them), and to keep them out oif situations where their lack of impulse control is going to be a problem.
So, if we're crossing the street, my 23 month old needs to hold my hand - because she doesn't have the impulse control to stop if there's a car coming. If we're at the park, she's free to run.
Similarly with hitting, with little ability to control impulses and no ability to take another's perspective, I'm going to rely more on action, not explanation to keep my child from hitting. I will explain too, but it's short and sweet and most likely AFTER I've dealt with the behavior "be gentle. I don't like to be hit."
When a child is little and hits repeatedly, then it's my job to set a boundary first by preventing her from hitting if I can (saying "be gentle"/stopping the hand), and second by separating her from the victim if prevention doesn't work. Until she develops reliable impulse control (and my 23 month old ain't got it!), I need to do those two things. I won't do a time out at this age because she won''t 'get it'. But I will sit her on the couch to remove her from her brother or walk away if she's hitting me. I will remind her to be gentle. I will shadow her and sit next to her while she plays so I can catch that hand when it's going back and teach her that hitting is not allowed. I will step out with her in a group situation that's become too much for her.
Finally, I think it pays to remember that kiids don't reason like we do either. This I think is where setting boundaries only
verbally fails - and it's how gd gets a bad rap. My one year old insisted on try to put large lids on small pots and vice versa because she honestly couldn't tell by looking that they didn't fit. At age 3, our son played hide and seek by covering his head with his blanket. When our son learned that the busses stop running at 1 am and start again at 5 am, he thought that the bus drivers ALL worked until 1 am, slept for 4 hours and started again at 5 am. Our explanations of shift work made no sense to him.
So for that reason, I don't expect them to understand that 'MiKayala doesn't like to be hit." and use that as intrinsic motivation not to hit. Not before about 4 or 5 at least. That doesn't mean I won't say that, so as to try to teach it, but it's not my major way of setting that boundary. Instead, I model the behavior I want, and help direct them to appropriate behavior.