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We've had on-going challenges in the hitting/pushing department with our 2.9 yr old DS - particularly with other children. This "phase" has been here for a long while and just doesn't seem to be going away <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"> . I keep expressing how "hitting hurts people","it's not okay to push", etc. and have always focused on the child who was hit/pushed, but we're making no progress. I posted here before and it was suggested by a few parents to tell DS that if we hit/push we have to leave - I did do this once.<br><br>
Today, we were at the playground and we had a plan to go to the thrift store afterward - DS expressed that he wanted to find either a car or a superball. He wasn't tired or hungry and we were playing and then all of a sudden (for seemingly no reason), he ran up to a little girl (smaller than him) and pushed her down! The little girl was upset - crying and scared. After I apologized to the little girl and her mom, I picked up DS and reminded him that it wasn't okay to hit/push and I mentioned how the little girl seemed scared and hurt. Then I told him we needed to leave. At first he was happy, thinking we were going to the thrift store. Then I explained that we were heading home and he got very upset. As we walked to the train, I felt like I was being punitive so we sat down and talked some more and I said, "Should we try this again and go back to the playground?" DS said "Yes". We finished out our morning and everything was fine.<br><br>
I'm struggling with feeling like I'm not getting the message across - and I don't want to seem punitive. BUT, this is hitting/hurting another person and that is definitely one of our few/major "NOT okays". I already play with DS the whole time we're out near other children, but once in a while he is so fast! Also, although I've already stopped going to a community play group because of this - I really don't think staying out of a playground (on a beautiful Spring day) is an option.<br><br>
I'm against punishments, but I feel like I'm feeling more frustrated as this continues.
 

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I don't see where GD is not working? Is it because he still hits. You don't say how old he is. Hitting/shoving are a normal aspect of toddler development. They do it as a form of communication. Have you tried getting him to talk to you, saying "use your words instead of hitting/shoving." My dd picks on our lovely dog all day long, pushes and hits him, runs into him with her wooden baby buggy, pulls his hairs and takes his toys away. She is not being mean but is playing with him. However, when I see it happening, I stop it immediately and talk to her about how to express love to the dog the right way and how what she is doing is hurting him. I then ask her to go over and apologize to him and love him. I would do the same thing if she were to hurt another child. My friend's son keeps hurting my dd on purpose during play. My friend goes through the same routine with him that I just described. Makes him apologize to dd and give her a hug and tells him to explain what he wants in words (hard if they are not yet talking). Eventually, he will get it.<br><br>
I know it is tiring to deal with now. Trust me, I was "rescuing" the dog all day today and getting tired of it. Oh, and yesterday she was trying to jump on me while I was trying to stretch. She thought it was hilarious when I proclaimed that she was hurting me. See, they just don't know what they are doing yet. We have to teach them. That is what GD is about, teaching them gently to be respectful and kind people by being so ourselves.<br><br>
Hang in there!
 

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You know, it sounds to me like you are doing all the right things. You don't re-inforce the behavior by any over attention, you remove him from the playground so he can't hurt anyone. I didn't find that my ds1 at that age had any intellectual concept. Eventually he will get it.<br><br>
It took me a long time to get my dses to learn that if they wanted to play outside they were going to have to wear their hats. Like months. It took ds1 months to learn his colors, to count, to recognize some numbers (working on that now) and so on and so on. This connection will be made. This social skill will be taught. There is no shortcut sometimes.<br><br>
If nothing else you are modeling patience!! :LOL
 

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Thanks for the responses! Yesterday, I think I felt like GD wasn't "working" because DS has been going through this phase for what seems like a year (!!) He was also a biter and a pincher <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"> . And you know how it is when your child is the hitter, you get a bit embarrassed - although we all understand that it's normal. We've been working on "hugs instead of hitting/pushing" or some variation, and I'm pleased to say that today at a playground he offered to give a little girl a hug when she arrived - it was actually quite sweet. Thanks for the reminders that things will change in time.<br><br>
OFF TOPIC: kathipaul, I used to live in Seattle and I LOVE that city and part of the country. I can't wait 'til DS can tolerate the long flight back so we can go to Bumbershoot!
 

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I don't think it is necessarily "punative" to go home in a situation like that rather than going to the playground. It seems like a pretty logical consequence for me. When my 3yo is having trouble being around other kids, I'm not going to take him somewhere that opens up the possibility of the same thing happening again. "Gentle discipline" is not synonymous with "no consequences". For me, sometimes it means eliminating the circumstances that lead to the undesired behavior.<br><br>
Behavior is shaped by reinforcement. You don't want to inadvertantly reinforce negative behavior such as hitting and pushing. All little kids go through this stage, or at least most do to some degree, but I don't think that means we give them a pass for it. It is hard to comment specifically on the situation you described because there are always variables at play that are difficult to relay on a message board. In that situation as you described it, we would have gone home. The message I would have given is that when you are showing me that you are frustrated and angry and can't be around other people without hurting them, then we will go home. I've been in that situation dozens of times. It isn't about punishment, it is about NOT reinforcing the behavior that I see as negative or harmful to others and reducing the chance that it will happen again in a short period of time. I don't want to set my kids up to fail, and I think sometimes giving second chances does that.<br><br>
That's not to say that I don't believe in ever giving second chances. The older the kid gets and the more verbal they get the easier it is to negotiate these things. As it is, my 3yo does not understand the concept of redemption and trying again. I don't think my oldest, who is 7 now, really understood that until he was 6. For him it simply meant that he got away with something most of the time.<br><br>
My point is that just because something may seem punative does not mean that it is not encompassed by gentle discipline. Consequences are important. Young children have a really hard time being empathetic because they are so self-centered. They can't really see outside of their own little box.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">I don't think it is necessarily "punative" to go home in a situation like that rather than going to the playground. It seems like a pretty logical consequence for me. When my 3yo is having trouble being around other kids, I'm not going to take him somewhere that opens up the possibility of the same thing happening again. "Gentle discipline" is not synonymous with "no consequences". For me, sometimes it means eliminating the circumstances that lead to the undesired behavior. .</div>
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ITA<br><br>
We've gone home from places 3 or 4 times in the past few months because dds are behaving inappropriately. They get a warning so they understand, then if it happens again, we leave. No yelling or 'telling off', just a calm reminder, and straight to the car. I dont give second chances at this age (dd#2 is same age as your son) but I do try to set them up for success very soon after. eg last week we left the library Friday am for pushing each other and chasing, bumping into other patrons. But we went back after lunch to get our books, after another talk about expectations for behaviour in there. We went back again today and they told me spontaneously on the way in that they were going to behave well - and they did. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
I think calm consistency and following through is what is needed - I dont see this as punitive. I think leaving the playground if you hurt others is perfectly reasonable and in line with GD.
 

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You've already gotten good advice, but I just wanted to add my own experience with hitting.<br><br>
DD2 was a hitter. DD1 never hit, so this was new to us (we thought we were such good parents because DD1 was so good/gentle! :LOL ).<br><br>
We were lucky (?) in that DD2 rarely hit other children - it was always us that she'd go for when she wasn't happy about something.<br><br>
We were just consistent with telling her 'We do not hit' and moving out of the way when she was swinging. If necessary, we sometimes caught her arms as she swang, so she didnt' hit us. On rare occasions, we needed to hold her arms (as gently as possible!) to stop the hitting.<br><br>
When she calmed down (NOT when she was still upset!), we'd give her better ways to tell us 'using her words' (she was very verbal at a young age) that she was upset.<br><br>
This went on for what seemed like forever - certainly over a year.<br><br>
She's almost 4 years old now, and I honestly cannot remember the last time she took a swing at one of us. She really did grow out of it, and now she does 'use her words' to tell us that she's upset (only now she whines when she tells us, so we are working on 'using a normal voice' - if it isn't one thing, it's another! :LOL ).<br><br>
My mom was just visiting us in January (hadn't seen Mom since last summer), and she commented that she had been so afraid for DD2 with all of the hitting that she did (and the fact that we didn't punish her for hitting). But Mom was impressed (and more than a little surprised) that she no longer hit.<br><br>
Punishment will stop the behaviour faster, but I don't like the messages it gives, you know? It was nice to prove to Mom that you don't have to punish in order to stop certain behaviours (as long as you are willing to be consistent for long enough with re-directing, etc)...<br><br>
Hang in there! It really does sound as if you are doing all the right things, and your ds will eventually get it. 2 years, 9 months is sooooo little...
 

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Also, we have been using PUSH as it applies to the world. Like pushing the door open, pushing the door shut, pushing the cart to the store, pushing the trike or the car. Whatever the case may be. I always say "Push!" (but in Spanish) and he knows that it is then ok to push. And when he goes to push people, I say "Pushing is for the doors." It seems to remind my son he is not to push people.<br><br>
Although, I agree totally that pushing is a very normal behavioral stage. I feel my son pushes tp express emotions and frustrations he otherwise cannot express. Like when he is jealous I am giving another child attention. Could this be possible for your son?
 

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Just wanted to add that my DS went through a long hitting phase, too. I found it to be VERY frustrating. I felt like he just wasn't getting that it wasn't OK to hit people, yell at them, grab their toys away, etc. He was quite the anti-social monster for a while, lol. I had more than my share of embarassing moments, though fortunately most other parents I encountered were very understanding. Still. It went ON AND ON. I thought the exact same thing you did - "something I am doing isn't working", and I started upping the ante, so to speak - showing more disapproval, becoming harsher with the "consequences", etc. - and it didn't help.<br><br>
Good news - we appear to have moved out of this stage. YAY!! I didn't think it would ever end, I was afraid I was raising a bully. But he does much better now - asks for turns, etc. So hang in there! It may seem never ending but it will stop. The thing that helped ME the most (I don't know about DS) was I calmed down about it. Our situation was escalating because I was becoming so frustrated with his behaviour. I took a step back and realized I was not modeling the behaviour I wanted him to emulate, by becoming angry with him. I really worked on remaining calm and matter-of-fact, not reacting harshly, etc., but just letting him know that hitting is not OK, here is something you can do besides hit, a phrase you can use or whatever, and if I see it happen again we will leave. Then we left, calmly (on my part <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">). It was pretty basic but I just decided that there really wasn't anything else I could do about it, short of more punitive measures that I really wasn't happy about. And eventually, it did work. I really think some kids just need more time and understanding to work this issue out.<br><br>
FTR, I am not saying you are getting too frustrated or anything - just sharing my experience. Also FTR, I think my DS is very emotionally mature for his age. Maybe your DS is too? I wonder if that has something to do with it? That was one of the things that used to drive me crazy - DS is receptive to other people's emotional cues, very verbal, etc. - I felt like there was no reason why he couldn't just stop with the hitting already!
 
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