My 3 year old hits me all. day. long. (and screams, kicks, etc) - Mothering Forums
Gentle Discipline > My 3 year old hits me all. day. long. (and screams, kicks, etc)
cahwilson's Avatar cahwilson 11:09 AM 07-27-2009
I really don't know how to respond anymore. She started hitting me a lot when we were weaning (due to pregnancy) and I probably wasn't hard enough on her b/c I felt so guilty about having to wean. So now she hits me pretty much everytime I say something she doesn't like (for example no ice cream for breakfast or we will go outside later, etc). We've been through hitting hurts and that whole thing. I've also tried taking her to her room and sitting with her to talk about it and she either has such a fit that I would have to forcebly hold her down (which I'm really not comfortable with and to be honest it doesn't work) or she will get completly stone faced and look at me and say "talk about it mama" and then promptly start singing or screaming when I start to speak.

Our days together have gotten miserable and something needs to change because I am having a baby in January. This is exactly why I didn't want to get pregnant now (we planned on waiting until dd got less difficult) but obviously that didn't happen! Dd seems to throw fits from the time she wakes up until she goes to bed. Heck even during the night she has fits in her sleep.

To add fuel to the fire she does have food allergies that cause behavoiral issues and tantrums that can last for over an hour (very scary she gets complelty out of control). I do feel like we have as good a handle on that as we are going to get and we are working with a wonderful doctor for it too. I just have no idea how to discipline this child because it gets so hard when she explodes. Yet my patience is worn and I am not enjoying being a mother to her. I know everyone says this is a tough age but it has really been more like hell for us. I actually hit her for the first time ever (not hard but still really devastating) after an extremely emberassing fit at the pool. She just looked at me and then hit me 10 times as hard as she could. I don't want this to turn into that. Help!

coloradomama1's Avatar coloradomama1 04:28 PM 07-27-2009
oh mama, i saw that no one replied and had to write because you sound like you're having a hard time. i have an almost 3yr old and 5 month old and i can relate. all i can say is that the next several months will probably be a little trying so try to stay positive and get as much help as you can. whether it's a neighbor or family or a church, babysitter, friend, SO, ANYTHING. just get some help so that you can recuperate after these fits with your LO. that's the only way you're going to keep a cool enough head to effectively and peacefully make it through the next fit. my LO is dealing with her new sibling pretty well but she still has her moments due to her age and i've just accepted that and tried to understand where she's coming from. at times though, it's been very very tough.

hang in there, sorry i don't have any life changing advice for the hitting. mine's been doing this once in a while too (in her sleep too, she can wake up in a FULL tantrum...wtf?!)and i remove her from whatever situation we're in and go sit quietly with her until she can chill out. if she keeps biting, hitting, kicking i just walk away and tell her that when she's ready to be nice i'll come back. she's usually ready in a minute or so and i come back and we hug and snuggle.
KittyDanger's Avatar KittyDanger 06:38 PM 07-27-2009
I am having a similar problem with DS 2 yo. We have tried "that's not nice", "hitting hurts", "please don't hit", "it hurts mommy's feelings..", timeouts w/and w/o talking to him during the timeout and nothing seems to help. I have even tried forceably holding arms/legs to keep from getting hit. I know he knows what "hurt" means, and sometimes it hurts my feelings so much I start to cry. He has an amazing vocab and is very expressive, and my dad seems to think he doesn't understand as well as he speaks but I know that's not the issue. He will apologize but then three seconds later he is doing it again. He even says "no hit mommy" WHILE he's hitting me.

I don't know what to do when he openly defies me. He looks right at me and does the thing I have just asked him not to do.
KweenKrunch's Avatar KweenKrunch 06:50 PM 07-27-2009
I've dealt with this before. Not only does it hurt, but it's embarrassing too.

What worked for us (we live a pretty CL life, though prob. not 100%) was singing the following song:

It sounds like you want to hit!

You're really mad and in a fit!

I can tell you're angry!

But hitting hurts!

Hitting hurts! Hitting hurts!

Hit a pillow. Hit a doll. Hit the floor. Hit a wall.

But please don't hit me. It hurts! It hurts!

You must respect the law of the universe!

Okay, now that I typed it out I am thinking it might sound a little cheesy - but honestly, the fun and distraction of sining a song totally helped to cool my daughter down and take her mind off of being aggressive.

This is a difficult stage, but it does pass.


eko_mom's Avatar eko_mom 07:31 PM 07-27-2009
Same situation, nearly, here. Not quite as volatile, but the screaming, kicking, hitting thing (the hitting and kicking focused mostly on her dad), doing the opposite of what I ask, etc. Our dd is 3.5. our baby is 2 mo. This started pretty much at the same time as the birth though she's loving toward her brother. It seems mainly directed at us or other adults. Although a particularly strong bent toward possessiveness with objects, has reared its head to when playing with other kids. I am at wits end. Feel guilty, 'cause we were so connected and in tune before...at least that's the way I remember it! Not really that halcyon, probably. Its heartbreaking because I did so much intensive AP-ing and feel like it was all for nothing now since I lose my temper, become stern, raise my voice, act roughly now in reaction to the wild uncontrollable times. Its agonizing.

Definitely no advice here, except that the one thing that has helped some philosophically has been a book called Hold on to Your Kids. It talks about "collecting" your children after a break in attachment--which I guess the birth and subsequent caretaking of another child might qualify...this essentially means, getting down on their level, getting into their head space and relating to them. The book says all aggression and willfullness (they call it counterwill) issues are the result of a break in attachment.

This is probably why KweenKrunch's song works...its a way of "collecting" her child back and getting on her level...
DanAbimytwomiracle's Avatar DanAbimytwomiracle 02:41 AM 07-28-2009
My oldest (now 7) has had violent tantrums when he's had a food exposure (soy or dairy). What I used to/still do:

Bear hugs - not forcibly pinning them down, but holding them to you. Don't talk until you can feel them relax a bit, and then keep your voice very low, and even, and stop talking if they get worked up again.

Leaving him in his room/carseat and walking away - if I got VERY angry, it was better for me to walk away than to hit back. So I'd make sure he was safe (his room ia/was childproofed) and shut the door to give ME time to cool off. When he calmed down we'd talk.

Talking to a child in the middle of a tantrum/rage is useless. Even eye contact adds fuel to the fire. when they are calm, say a few things, keeping it very simple, and give hugs and affection.

Just a note about aggression being from a break in attachment: I think that theory lays far too much blame at the feet of the parents, most of whom are really just trying their hardest. Some kids just have tough personalities. My son's personality has been the same since birth, and probably before. High needs, tough to soothe, super sensitive to stimuli and food, always sees the glass half empty. His twin sister is the opposite. I sometimes think we might not be the best "fit" in terms of parent-child personality, but I give 60-70% of my parenting energy to my oldest because he needs it. I know I have made mistakes, but his issues are not all my fault. I see my job as helping him learn to get along with the world and be happy in the a world that he just can't make be what he wants it to be all the time.

If you're interested in a book, try "Raising Your Spirited Child" or "The Explosive Child."
coloradomama1's Avatar coloradomama1 04:29 PM 07-29-2009
"Same situation, nearly, here. Not quite as volatile, but the screaming, kicking, hitting thing (the hitting and kicking focused mostly on her dad), doing the opposite of what I ask, etc. Our dd is 3.5. our baby is 2 mo. This started pretty much at the same time as the birth though she's loving toward her brother. It seems mainly directed at us or other adults. Although a particularly strong bent toward possessiveness with objects, has reared its head to when playing with other kids. I am at wits end. Feel guilty, 'cause we were so connected and in tune before...at least that's the way I remember it! Not really that halcyon, probably. Its heartbreaking because I did so much intensive AP-ing and feel like it was all for nothing now since I lose my temper, become stern, raise my voice, act roughly now in reaction to the wild uncontrollable times. Its agonizing."

not trying to hijack your thread i just wanted to say that the above paragraph is so well put and EXACTLY what i've been feeling since the birth of dd2 but couldn't quite put it into words, i just knew that i was sad over the loss of dd1 andour perfect little routine we had fallen into. thank you for making me feel like i'm not the only one.
D_McG's Avatar D_McG 10:33 AM 07-30-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by cahwilson View Post
I really don't know how to respond anymore. She started hitting me a lot when we were weaning (due to pregnancy) and I probably wasn't hard enough on her b/c I felt so guilty about having to wean. So now she hits me pretty much everytime I say something she doesn't like (for example no ice cream for breakfast or we will go outside later, etc). We've been through hitting hurts and that whole thing. I've also tried taking her to her room and sitting with her to talk about it and she either has such a fit that I would have to forcebly hold her down (which I'm really not comfortable with and to be honest it doesn't work) or she will get completly stone faced and look at me and say "talk about it mama" and then promptly start singing or screaming when I start to speak.
It doesn't sound to me as if there is much of a deterrent. It sounds like she's the one in control What do you do when she's singing and screaming over you? Just reading it makes me feel angry! If DS was that disrespectful to me he'd have to leave the room immediately and take some time to think about how to be calm and respectful. I absolutely don't tolerate hitting or screaming at me. Nor do I do timed time-outs. But I will not be hit or screamed at. And I don't want him to tolerate that from others, either. Part of my job as a parent is modeling how to be treated.
kindacrunchy's Avatar kindacrunchy 11:46 AM 07-30-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by eko_mom View Post
Same situation, nearly, here. Not quite as volatile, but the screaming, kicking, hitting thing (the hitting and kicking focused mostly on her dad), doing the opposite of what I ask, etc. Our dd is 3.5. our baby is 2 mo. This started pretty much at the same time as the birth though she's loving toward her brother. It seems mainly directed at us or other adults. Although a particularly strong bent toward possessiveness with objects, has reared its head to when playing with other kids. I am at wits end. Feel guilty, 'cause we were so connected and in tune before...at least that's the way I remember it! Not really that halcyon, probably. Its heartbreaking because I did so much intensive AP-ing and feel like it was all for nothing now since I lose my temper, become stern, raise my voice, act roughly now in reaction to the wild uncontrollable times. Its agonizing.

Definitely no advice here, except that the one thing that has helped some philosophically has been a book called Hold on to Your Kids. It talks about "collecting" your children after a break in attachment--which I guess the birth and subsequent caretaking of another child might qualify...this essentially means, getting down on their level, getting into their head space and relating to them. The book says all aggression and willfullness (they call it counterwill) issues are the result of a break in attachment.

This is probably why KweenKrunch's song works...its a way of "collecting" her child back and getting on her level...
Wow, this is great! Well, not really, cause it stinks. This is exactly what i have been going through for 3.5 years with my oldest. Ever since my youngest was born and I have been trying to collect hm ever since. Now we are going through some PT for some issues (long story) and counseling.
So, my suggestion is to sit down and really observe yourself and the triggers. ONe thing that really made me look hard at my parenting was "KId Cooperation " by Elizabeth Pantley. I was proud for being a democratic parent but now I am seeing how that isn't quite effective. Too much talk, not enough action, letting him bait me, and not being consistent. I will say the lack of consistency was a comfort level trying to find my way thing. And seek out help! Talk to a developmental ped, get some counseling, something! My son is seeing the therapist now but I need help in parenting him. So, I need to see her separately. And I still fall off the wagon. I yelled and slammed doors yesterday cause I was so frustrated that he just won't go to his room to calm down and he is getting to big for me to take him there. I give him two choices and he ALWAYS picks a third on his own. He has to be by himself otherwise he just baits and gets angrier.
Anyway, been there and still there and finally getting help.
Hope this helps!
Good luck!
It would be good to get started now before the baby comes because that will throw a whole new wrench into the situation
violet's Avatar violet 12:58 PM 07-30-2009
another post mentioned "The Explosive Child" --- I highly highly recommend it. Age 3 is tough, but it's also an age when some behaviors become apparent that are not of the "grow out of" variety. That's when we started noticing my son's sensory processing issues.

You mention the hitting and the tantrums all day and the allergy diet, are there other behaviorial quirks? Has she been evaluated?

You also mentioned discipline and this: I just have no idea how to discipline this child because it gets so hard when she explodes.

The biggest thing I got from the Explosive Child is that we can't effectively discipline during or even immediately after the emotional explosions. The kid is in the "monkey brain"(our own family term, no reflection on the child), the emotional state, not the thinking state. Not rational. And so expecting my ds to learn a lesson and retain it at that point is a lost cause. That's different than the traditional parenting/behavioral model which says "consistency consistency, respond to the problem in the moment so they associate the negative consequence with the act." Not so with explosive kids. We role play and practice the desired behaviors when everybody is rested and stable, even happy. In the emotional moment, we ONLY practice calming down strategies and then restate the rule.

It can and does get better. The explosive child book also talks about the "basket method" where you, for a time, put aside any parenting issues that do not relate to the safety of family/child. So no fights over veggies or shoes or coordinating outfits in my house. Those are not worth the emotional response. But hitting etc. we focus on. So it's not about consistency in enforcing my parental authority in all cases. I let a LOT of stuff slide in an effort to keep everybody calm and stable most of the day. That way ds has the resources to deal with the transitions and frustrations as they come up. I'm getting long winded.

I just want to encourage you to seek out any underlying causes and give yourself a break -- children come with their own path to follow and these issues are no reflection on your parenting. Find a positive path together and things will improve.
NicoleCS's Avatar NicoleCS 01:14 PM 07-30-2009
I feel for you mama and I'm sorry your days are so hard for you. The only other suggestion I can offer is consistency in routine and excercise and activity. Some children thrive on routine, knowing what to expect and how their day will unfold. I think she's probably old enough to begin to use a chart/calendar. You can create your own...Today is Thursday ..on Thursday's we...let her help you...then use it as a tool to stay on track. Make sure you add plenty outdoor and playtime, plus quiet/cuddle time.
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