Aggressive 3 yo - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 10-03-2011, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
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So, I posted this in the ask an expert forum but got no reply:

"My son is almost 3.5. Ever since his baby sister became mobile (around 9 months), he is constantly hurting her. He bites, pushes, hits, pulls hair, you name it. And it isn't always in anger...I can turn my back for a second and he has bite her finger.

We have tried everything we can think of. Saying "We don't hit", is comical. Simply restraining him isn't possible unless he could wear a straight jacket 24 hours a day. Time outs don't work because if he views them as punitive, he just freaks out and hits more. If he views it as a special 'calm out' time with me, he thinks they are fun and just goes back to hurting her when he is done.

He also hits me and DH a lot.

Sadly, DH says he has reached his limit and is going to spank every time DS hits. I don't want to spank, but I agree I am out of answers. I also worry that spanking will be like putting gasoline on a fire!

Thanks for any help you can offer."

And now...This last month DS has started preschool. My SIL is one of his teachers and she told me this weekend that the preschool director will be asking to talk to me this week about DS hitting and hurting other kids. greensad.gif I really never thought I would have one of those kids...And I really need some ideas on what to come back to the director with.

Any help is appreciated.
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#2 of 7 Old 10-03-2011, 07:57 PM
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I never had a hitter/bitter, but something that worked for my DS when he was younger was the infamous chart.  I charted his good behavior.   he cleaned his toys!  Yeahhh!  a star!   He shared nice, another star, he listened well that day...another star.....etc.  Once he reached x amount of stars he got to pick a prize from the prize bag.   Which was happy meal toys or stickers, pencils, freebie keychains...etc.   Little junk that made him happy.   Time outs didn't work well with him either.   Maybe you throw in some we didn't hit anyone today stars and he gets a bigger prize.  Like you take him out for ice cream...or a treasure walk or something fun.  

Mommy to 3 gifts from God! 
Nate dog 5/15/04
Lil' G 11/8/07
My Shamrock 3/17/10
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#3 of 7 Old 10-03-2011, 07:57 PM
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I'm not sure I have any advice, but I have loads of sympathy.  I spent the first 2 years of dd2's life playing bodyguard.  Her sister (20 months older) would do a lot of what you described.  Not much could get done in the house unless both dh and I were home.  I literally could not turn my back and I spent most of the time just placing myself in between them.  Giving dd1 attention did help, though it didn't solve the problem.  Only time did.  (But to this day she still blames every bad thing on her, even though she rarely pushes or hits.  Also, our troubles didn't extend beyond the home.  We didn't do preschool, though.)  


If I could hazard some advice, I would say to put everything down and give yourself entirely to this problem.  If your dh is so stressed out about this he's talking about spanking, I think everyone needs to focus on this, even if it means getting behind on housework and other things.  Keep the TV off in the evening and don't turn it on until after they go to sleep (that's more to keep the adults focused!)  Stay off the computer for the same reasons.  Play tag team when dh is home so that the two are never left alone, even 6 feet away and in sight (first hand experience with that one!)   Do you have trouble when you are nursing?  DD1 used to smack dd2's head.  I ended up nursing in a deep chair with wide arms that kept her at arms distance and she couldn't do much harm.  That's if you can't convince him to curl up with you to read a book or watch his favorite video together.  (I also had to give up on trying to get dd2 down for a nap at 14 months because dd1 would hit and scream and dd2 was hard to get down anyway.  Bad combination!  I just gave up.)


     Fair or not, your son needs this extra attention, even if you are just playing bodyguard.  I think it diffused our situation a bit.  Sure, he "should" learn to control his impulses, talk about his feelings, listen to your point of view etc etc, but he's not even 4 and sometimes it's just like talking to a brick wall.   Not saying you shouldn't try, but don't expect him to follow through with what is expected of him.  Get between them.  Don't turn your back.  Find some time just for him.  Eventually.... eventually! If you go about this the right way and don't lose your temper, eventually he'll back down.  Mostly.  Hopefully he'll find some resolution at preschool.  How often does he go?  Does he generally enjoy going, or does he protest?  Does he make friends?  Are you a SAHM, or do you work?


Don't give up on the special time, even if he goes back to his ways right after.  You just can't expect a kid his age to view things that logically and respond that quickly.  Those special times will make a difference.  Make this your #1 priority.  Hopefully your dh can be on board and can tolerate a little messiness around the house if that's what it comes down to.  Eventually......


I guess I did have some advice.

"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
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#4 of 7 Old 10-03-2011, 08:01 PM
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We say 'This is a safe house.  Nobody is allowed to hurt anybody' and the offender is put in their rooms no matter what their feelings are on the matter.  If they reoffend they are put back in with the repeated reminder that it's a safe house.  


I have also tried screaming at the top of my lungs in fury etc.  But actually what I wrote above works a lot better lol.   I never yet have had a chronic problem with hitting though.  

DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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#5 of 7 Old 10-04-2011, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. 


I am feeling so overwhelmed right now.  The preschool director talked about having "professionals come in and evaluate" DS.  I am not even sure what that means, and she wouldn't really give me an answer.  She just avoided telling me anything definite saying she wasn't a professional.  She asked if DS made eye contact with us at home, and I said that he did.  She said that the aggression was really worrisome, mostly because it didn't have a pattern or a noticeable cause.


I feel like such a horrible mom.  I feel like it is because I had PPD, and am on zoloft...And I find myself being angry at DS, because why can't he just be a good kid?  He has been so high needs from the start...He hasn't even been in preschool 4 weeks!


I am sorry, I probably shouldn't even be posting I am a mess.


Thanks for listening.

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#6 of 7 Old 10-04-2011, 02:09 PM
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My dd was like that. At 5.5 years old, we still deal with an occasional hit, but it's lessened considerably/ There are three things that worked for us:

1. Having the same consequence, every single time. Putting her in her room. And yes, we had to pick her up to do this. It had to be done in a very calm manner.

2. Making sure that she was busy enough. I've found that boredom leads to trouble.

3. Using lots of positive encouragement when she wasn't hitting.


Hang in there. It's probably going to take some time. At 3.5 we were in the thick of it and I felt like it would never get better. It got better for us and it will for you too.

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#7 of 7 Old 10-08-2011, 12:49 PM
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