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3yr old hitting, pushing HELP!

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  • 3yr old hitting, pushing HELP!

    What are some things you have done to manage your 3yr old's hitting and pushing? Are all 3yr olds very physically unaware or just very into the strength and feeling of it? Does it go away? Does it get worse! All the mothers of 3yr old boys I know (including myself) have at least a little issue with it. What worked for you and your child?

  • #2
    In our case we've handled this a bit differently as I'm pregnant and pushing my bump is really not good. My toddler had been use to climbing onto me and had to stop pretty quick (the day I got prego I got hyperemesis and touching my tummy made me sick)

    We've had to be a bit more stern than we've normally been, trying to also show there is a difference between mum and dad at the moment. Not that pushing daddy is much better, but well for us right now it's better, make any sense?

    We've used the strong, no pushing, no hitting voice when it's towards me, and we've tried to explain that it could hurt the baby, hurt mummy, and how he wouldn't want that. Most of the time he understands.

    DS and DH rough house which makes it harder I think to say it's ok to push when your playing but not when your not playing.

    We've always played spanked, it's coming back to bite us as DS doesn't get that when we're not playing a smack on the bottom isn't as funny. And of course he does it harder than we do it Something we won't play around as much with the new baby.

    I think just the tone we use is enough for DS to know it's something he shouldn't be doing. I don't know of any punishment a 3 year old would understand.

    Just what has worked for us.


    • #3
      i have 2 boys, this was never an issue w/my oldest, now 5. so i can't say it's a boy thing. i have a couple friends whose daughters have gone through big hitting phases.

      my second, though, started hitting at 6mos ! and we still have to tell him "hitting hurts" or "please show love w/your hands". he's now 2. giving him words to use has helped curb some of it. proactively intervening curbs the rest fortunately, though, he's mostly into hitting family members, so we don't have to deal w/peers too much yet.

      i think the best thing after the fact is to focus on the one who was hit or pushed. make sure that person is okay, feels safe, and ask if they would like to say anything to the offender. i then turn to the one who was hit and ask if they would like to say anything and if i can do anything for them. if they don't want to say anything, that's fine, we move on. i do the same thing when someone gets hurt accidentally, too. that's when i really enlist the other to help "check on" the injured. IME, if they do it in these non-threatening situations where they don't feel guilty about anything, it's more likely to carry over when they are actually causing the injury.

      something that seemed to help w/my oldest the other day when he hit his younger was say "oh, i see that you need some more love. i'll give you so much love that only loving actions can come out of you!" and then i kissed and hugged all over him until he was giggling. his anger seemed to be gone and he went on to play kindly.


      • #4
        RE - 3 yr old hitting

        I too have a three year old that hits. He's 3 1/4years old and was the model child up until two days before his third birthday.

        We have good chunks of days and bad chunks of days. My son will hit us when we tell him that we aren't going to do "insert what ever you can think of here". When he was a baby under the age of one year we taught him how to be gentle and showed him the sign gentle. Everytime he was gentle we would make a big deal about it.

        Now things are different as he's 3+. We tried giving him time outs and that would result in me putting him back in his room or back in the same spot a million times (I'm prego so I can only physically do so much -and there's no way I can escort a three year old with an infant in hand come March). We also started taking away things (videos for example). Taking away things sometimes works but what seems to work the most is the following:

        1. When he hits we tell him we use our words not our hands. If he continues hitting during that moment we go to step two.

        2. We then walk away from (saying nothing more) and since he'll follow us we lock ourselves in the nearest room. We will talk to him through the door and ask him if he's ready to be gentle and use his words. He then will say yes and we'll come out and all is well. Occasionally he will test further by hitting us when we open the door so we close the door again and lock it for about three minutes. That's what works for us.

        3. Since we've been doing one and two know all i have to do is walk away to the nearest room and close the door with out locking it and he gets the message and straitens out. He needs to know that it's not behaviour we can be around as it's hurting us. We also tell him that when he hits we feel sad (to try and teach him how his behaviour can effect how other people feel).

        Best of luck and I hope some of this helps. I know of another mom who's boy would hit other kids all the time!!! for many months and has finally outgrown it. Keep it consistent and it will go away.


        • #5
          IME, when children hit, it signifies that something is wrong, either they're not feeling well physically, or there's an emotional need. if you just ignore the behavior, you're also ignoring the need. when your child hits, play investigator. try to figure out the reason why. children who are content and happy rarely hit "for no reason". they may perceive the ignoring or locking yourself away as love withdrawal. they may quit the hitting, but only b/c they're afraid of losing love from you, which may lead to developing insecurity and fear. Kohn addresses this in his book "Unconditional Parenting".

          for more information on time-outs and other punishments, read API's Positive Discipline Principle.


          • #6
            I agree with Dedra, I look at the hitting as a method to communicate. What the child is trying to communicate may not be obvious at first glance (I'm teething and I don't feel well, I'm hungry, I need to reconnect, I am overstimulated, etc). I have found that when my children hit, it is time for me to be right there by their side actively working with them. My son had the language skills at that age to talk about hitting. My daughter did not so it was pretty much 100% redirection with her. I took the hitting as a sign that mommy needed to be right there.

            Hitting is also a part of typical child development. Not all children go through a hitting stage but many do.

            Here's a quote from the Positive Discipline Principle that I always keep in mind when considering a response in a discipline situation

            Controlling or manipulative discipline compromises the trust between parent and child, and harms the attachment bond


            • #7
              I agree with Melissa and Dedra. Children are always communicating with us; it's up to us to understand them. I don't think there is any such thing as 'bad behavior'--I think it's kids just doing all they know how to do.

              When I was trying to hold my marriage together, my DD absorbed the tension and began hitting, biting and kicking. Breaks my heart to think of that time, but I'm thankful that I didn't punish her, but I saw it as a cry for help. I did 2 things.

              First, I took her (and me and the other 2 kids) to a good, highly recommended childrens' play therapist. There we talked about anger, etc.

              Second, I read some Adele Faber books ('siblings without rivalry', 'how to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk'). These are AP recommended books, btw. The best jewel I took from these books was describing and REFLECTIVE LISTENING. I would say to my daughter "Wow! It seems like you're really mad!" and let her talk from there. Fortunately, even at 4 years old she's very expressive. It helped a lot, for all of us.

              I want to understand my kids and help them grow into responsible, able adults, not just squash 'bad behavior.'


              • #8
                Originally posted by PaxMamma View Post
                something that seemed to help w/my oldest the other day when he hit his younger was say "oh, i see that you need some more love. i'll give you so much love that only loving actions can come out of you!" and then i kissed and hugged all over him until he was giggling. his anger seemed to be gone and he went on to play kindly.
                I found this really helpful. Something I learnt from the Faber's books (I think?) was to voice emotions, so for example I might tell my child, "Please don't push Elsa! When you push Elsa, it makes her sad!" A 3yo won't realise that, but might be able to take it on board. I also try as much as I can to get into their mind - why might they be doing what they're doing, and then 'voice the emotion' - "Are You cross because Sammy took your brick?" for example. It really does help, IME.


                • #9
                  Shmi Skywalker- What you describe is called emotional coaching and has been working well for my son and I. I have even used it with my 13 mo old.

                  Everyone else-
                  I used this book that I have found very helpful-
                  Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime

                  One helpful thing that immediately re-framed my thought from that book is the statement "your child is not out to get you." In heat of a power struggle its important to remember they are just kids with needs and wants, no matter how annoying they are! Even though it appears that they are trying to make you as unhappy as possible, they really just want to have a connection with you. They get balled up in their own emotions and need guidance to get out of it sometimes.

                  I have done the walk away, leave him in the room thing before....
                  That might of had a short term effect... he lost his anger out of fear.
                  But what of the long term effect on our relationship. How must he feel I consider him now, is my love the same, can he trust me? I apologized and we talked about it. I tried to reconnect with him and earn his trust back, and devise better ways to deal with the situation.

                  I think its important to apologize if we have made a mistake, and talk to our children. That will teach them to do the same when the time is right. Its also important to forgive yourself and move on.