My 4 year old does not stop hitting children at preschool - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 04-16-2013, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Everyone,


My son is a caring and nurturing boy with family and friends...He shows kindness and sincere affection for others in ways that you expect a grownup to, nit a 4year old! BUT,

My son has been in numorous problems for hitting other children at school. He does not display this behavior outside of school, and I am at my wits end.....Please help! What am I doing wrong???? This is not behavior that we show our son, and he only displays this kind of behavior in school....I don't know what else to do!



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#2 of 6 Old 04-16-2013, 06:52 PM
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Kids often act differently in a group than they do at home so it isn't anything you are doing. I used to role play common kid situations with my DD using toys and role play handling them appropriately, we read a lot of books that had kid conflicts and resolutions, and when the teacher reported an issue I asked my DD in private what had happened and had her plan what she would do instead the next time.

As a preschool teacher when I tell a parent their child hit a lot during the day or had an off day in other ways I don't expect them to do anything beyond talking to their child in order to reinforce that their behavior wasn't appropriate.
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#3 of 6 Old 04-17-2013, 03:57 AM
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Not easy. The hitting is a behavior , a symptom. We really have to get an understanding of the conditions - the more detail the better - under which he displays hitting. he does not hit all the time. We are need to get your ds input - what are his concerns , his perspective - not easy , takes time to drill down, besides the lagging skill set to deal with these situations in a flexible and adaptable way. once we have a clear understanding of his concerns, we can share ours and then invite him to collaborate with us and brainstorm mutually satisfying solutions. This is what Ross Greene's CPS collaborative problem solving is about. There is plenty of free info on the web

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#4 of 6 Old 04-17-2013, 05:44 AM
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Hitting by kids that age is often out of frustration, so I'd try to find out if something is frustrating him. Maybe talk to him about school and if he ever gets angry and what makes him angry, that kind of thing. Then you and he can maybe try to figure out other things he can do to when that situation comes up. It's a different environment for kids - being surrounded by a bunch of other kids their same age all wanting the same thing at the same time. It isn't a situation he probably faces at home so he doesn't have the frustration at home.

I think the key is that just saying not to hit doesn't give him tools to use to keep him from getting upset, or how to deal with being upset. If he still gets upset, he'll still look for a way to respond, and it might just be a different kinds of physical response. (At least he isn't biting, you know?) So I'd try to look past the behavior and find the reason for his behavior. If you and he can work to solve the reason for his behavior, the behavior will end. But I would also talk to him about various things you can do when you're angry so he has tools other than lashing out. Being confident in saying, "That makes me angry!" is one thing he can do. Kids are used to acting rather than speaking. At my daughter's school, they're taught to "use a bug and a wish." So if something makes them angry, they're supposed to say, "It bugs me when you X and I wish you would stop." Something like that. Maybe if he practices so he has something to say when he gets angry or frustrated.
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#5 of 6 Old 04-17-2013, 02:39 PM
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One thing that I have come to notice with kids when they are first in group settings is that they have never really had to compete for limited resources before.  What I mean is, when you are at home playing with your kid and your kid wants to use the red car you let him have the red car, because you don't really care which car you use.  When your kid wants to sit on that specific part of the couch, you scoot over.  When your kid wants a green cup to drink out of you grab a green cup when getting the drink, no big deal.  You teach your kid to use their words, so you say "use your words and ask for xyz."  At home, they use their words "I would like to play legos now" and bam!  it's time to play legos!


But at school...... there are several kids who want to play with the red car, the green cups have already been handed out, and someone is sitting on that spot on the couch.  So the kid uses their words, "I want to use the red car"  but see here's the difference between interacting with peers and interacting with grown ups, the red car is also important to the other kid, so the other kid says  "nope, I'm using it."  WHAT!  But I used my words!  I did everything I was suppose to do and that other kid said NO!  That is when I see the most hitting occur (especially in the 4-6 year old set, younger kids often hit because of a lack of words and older kids hit because they used their words and it didn't work!)


My suggestions on how to deal with it are not that helpful,

1.  don't be as agreeable at home, fight for *your* right to the red car "I"m still using the red car, when I'm finished I'll let you know."  Make a point of taking your own turn in things and having that last for a while.  Don't give up your spot on the couch, suggest an alternative etc.

2.  Talk about how it is okay for the other kid/grown up to say "no" to a request.  "You need to use your words to ask for the red car, but if other kid says, 'no' that's okay.  You can find a different car/toy to play with.  Let them know you'd like a turn when they are finished"

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#6 of 6 Old 04-22-2013, 08:04 PM
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One guess is that he does not know other skills to negotiate sharing, use his words to say "Stop", etc.


Many 4 year olds enjoy role play where they get to act out ideas for how to solve problems with peers.


Also using a "Wheel of Choice" is a tool I teach for children to learn to solve conflicts with others and most 4 year olds can easily use the Wheel of Choice. (I added a link to an explanation of the Wheel of Choice."


Is he an only child? Does he have opportunities at home to solve problems with other kids?

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