My child is 4.5 years old. A little before he turned 4 he started to hit and it has only esculated. He doesnt hit other kids..just me and his dad...once in a while, our pets or his grandparents. It happens when he is told No...or when he is told to do something he doesn't want to do like bedtime. He is very strong willed...very. I have tried time outs. He gets up, throws a fit, cries, becomes violent towards us, runs into things, hits himself sometimes etc. I put him back on time out and the cycle repeats over and over. Often for an hour. I have tried saying "it is bedtime now because you are hitting'. Same thing happens as time out. I have tried taking things away. This works 1/3 of the time. I tried getting down and talking to him and giving him a hug and i get hit. He hits, kicks, pushes, pinches and last night he pulled out about a dozen strands of my hair. It hurt and I was so frusterated. I started to cry and he LAUGHED. It usually happens in the evening. I dont know what to do. I am worried he is going to become a psychopath. I am worried he is going to get bigger and hurt me. He is very strong. I am worried he is being hurt himself and this is him acting it out. I feel like crying all the time. I feel like i am failing. Other than that, he is really good and kind of introverted. He joins in with kids playing but he needs to watch and warm up first. His teacher says he follows directions and has never hurt anyone. She has a hard time sometimes getting him to do his writing and coloring but, it doesnt worry her. He does have a bit of a speech issue. He starts therapy next week. With the pets, he hits the cat when she "sits in his spot" or cause he "doesnt like her" at the moment. We had our rat out and he peed so my son hit him for it. When he isnt aggresive, he is very loving. Sometimes he tries to stop himself and he starts shaking and turning red. Please help :(
It sounds like you are engaged in a power struggle. Bad news, it sounds like you aren't going to win this one!
Since you have identified this usually happens around the same time of day I would make sure his basic needs are met at that time - is his tummy full, is he rested, has he had physical activity? Next, have his emotional needs been met - is he being engaged, does he have the attention he needs? Or maybe he is overstimulated and needs your help to wind down?
Next, what are areas that you can give him power and control? I would say let him control everything that is age appropriate. Examples, clothing choice, self care, what book to read next. He can give input and help in areas where it is not appropriate. This is a great way to include positive reinforcement. For example, when you are making dinner he could wash the vegetables. Then when dinner is served you could proudly point out that he helped make dinner. Also could work with folding laundry, cleaning the house, getting the mail, etc. Don't go over the top. I think a small bit of praise is appropriate but also consider letting him overhear you appreciating him to others.
Now, how can you help him belong? Show him you care. This depends on your kid - does he need physical touch or space, does he express himself w art or words, etc. How does he feel cared for? Help him identify his feelings. You seem mad/sad/other, is that why you hit the cat? Identify how you feel out loud to him. There are some great books for this - If You're Angry and You Know it, Mad at Mommy, When Sophie Gets Angry, Really Really Angry, Hands are Not for Hitting. Your local library will have these and many others.
What is happening right now is reaction along the lines of 'you can't get away with that' or retaliation and his response is intensifying his behavior. This is his way of letting you know the need he is experiencing is not being met. He is a child so he isn't able to tell you - I need help, I need choices, I'm hurt and I need you to understand my feelings and help me feel okay. Over time you can help him let you know his need in a way that is appropriate.
Well, I have more thoughts but my own kid needs me and I've already written a novela. Hope it helps.
What can you do to take care of yourself? What makes you feel refreshed? See if you can figure a way to fit in some time. Do you have a partner, Grandma, Aunt that could give you a break? A baby sitter? A childcare exchange with a friend? It is difficult if not impossible to care for others if you are not being cared for - even self care. Parenting is exhausting work most of the time. We have all been there, you are not alone.
Thank you. I do need more time to myself. I have some health issues and am so tired that...when I do get time to myself, I either use it sleeping or on the net. My brain feels foggy. I just keep saying that this will pass. My dr gave me the names of some good child/family therapists. The hope is that they will be able to help guide us as to how to handle these outbursts in a way my son will respond to positively.
I'm glad you are considering therapy. I go myself and have spent many sessions talking about my children and exploring how to be the best parent I can for them. It is hard, a lot of self reflection was involved. It does get better. Just that you post so searching for an answer lets me know how much you care about your child. Don't be afraid to shop around for therapists, sometimes it can take a few tries to find one that is a good fit. Good luck.