3 1/2 Year Old Hitting and Pushing

Updated on February 02, 2009
S.T. asks from Cleveland, TN
7 answers

Hi everyone. I really need some input from other moms. My 3 1/2 year old son has been hitting and pushing his friends a lot lately. He will get incredibly angry and upset and hit without provocation. I am a teacher and have worked with children this age but nothing that we try seems to work. He will get angry and shout "I am so angry!!!" he has been having temper tantrums. I am just at the end of my wits and feel like a complete failure as a mom. Please help!!!

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answers from Raleigh on

The two things that affect my son are certain things in his diet (red food coloring, in particular) and sensory overload due to sensory integration dysfunction.

You might try simplifying his diet first, only food from scratch for a week and see if he improves. Then you might want to check into getting him diagnosed to see if he has a si dysfunction.

The other thing I have found helpful is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) - a tapping technique on acupressure points. www.emofree.com has a free manual and talks about how to do it every night as you tuck your child into bed. www.tapping.com has a free diagram.

Also, ask him if his head hurts or ever hurts. If so, he may need Cranial Osteopathy or CranioSacral Therapy.

Good luck!



answers from Nashville on

My friend's sister is a pediatric nurse. She said that boys at ages 3 and 4 are growing fast and they have an increased amount of testosterone in their system and they are just more aggressive. She said by school age it lessens.



answers from Louisville on

Sometimes, "without provocation" is relative. My son has sensory problems and he will react in advance of something that makes him uncomfortable, like somebody brushing up against him. So, if someone gets too close and he thinks they might touch him, he'll start hitting them to get them away. Make sense? Anyway, if you don't see an actual cause for his aggression, it might help to get him evaluated by an Occupational therapist. They can help decipher what is a behavioral problem (and give you strategies) and what is something a little more significant. Here's a great link about Sensory Integration/Sensory Processing Disorder. That's what my son has. Before we got him evaluated I thought I was a pretty crappy mom too. I couldn't understand why parenting was so difficult when all my friends seem to love every minute. Knowing what was really going on and what I could do to help has made such a difference. Good luck... Also, the fact that you're even reaching out for solutions tells me you're a good mom. If you live in Louisville, the CP KIDS Center is amazing, they do evals free of charge. http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-proces...



answers from Greensboro on

Many times a child's diet can cause them to be aggressive. Our oldest daughter reacts terribly to food dies. Check out www.feingold.org. Feingold is a 30yr old non-profit organization whose purpose is to inform the public about petroleum-based artificial ingredients in our food supply. These harmful additives cause ADD, ADHD, OCD and many other behavioral, emotional and physical side effects. Feingold is a leading authority on this subject and has helped thousands of families over the years. They were a Godsend for our family. Best wishes.



answers from Louisville on

S., first of all, you are SO not a failure as a mom. Frustrated, unhappy, sad, yes... but not a failure. Actually, you're probably pretty typical.

Now, I am not familiar with John Rosemond but I will say that, although his program may be wonderfully helpful, the key to coping with your son is to understand what is at the root of his outburst. Even though you say his outbursts are without provocation, there may be something there of which you are not aware.

How long has he been having these outbursts? Might it possibly be tied to the birth of your younger child?

Or it could be the appearance of a bi-polar condition.

As far as your own coping with his apparent anger and helping him to deal with it, you should congratulate him for verbalizing his feelings. It's a pretty impressive thing that a 3 1/2 y/o is able to express himself that way. Usually they just lash out and don't even understand why. The next time he starts acting up, when he says, "I'm so angry," take him aside, sit down with him (preferably snuggled in your lap because that is a definite comfort/safety zone for little ones) and just ask him about what made him so angry. (It's possible even he, does not know why he is so angry.) Talk to him about the right and wrong ways of expressing his anger. And explain to him how he makes his friends feel bad when he pushes and hits them. You might even want to consider getting him a punching bag for when he gets angry to give him an outlet for his feelings.

You also want to talk to him about the repercussions of his behavior. Talk to him about learning the best way to respond when he gets angry and how, to help him remember how he is supposed to behave, you will have to give him a time-out (or some other method) to give him an opportunity to think about his anger and response to it by himself. Determine the best way to teach him, be it a time out mat against the dining wall or whatever. Once you have determined what that will be, show him what the ramifications of his inappropriate behavior will be and tell him that, effective immediately, this will be his place/time to think about his actions.

By the way, that old saying, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar"? It works with kids, too. Each time you need to correct him for inappropriate behavior, sit him in your lap or get on eye level with him and hold him close. Remind him of what you have said about his inappropriate behavior and the repercussions of that behavior. Then take him to his place and set him down for a specific amount of time.

If his behavior continues to worsen, you might want to think about talking to his pediatrician about referral to a therapist for more/better ways of behavior modification.

Good luck. Keep us posted.



answers from Lexington on

I know John Rosemond has written about this recently. He suggests things like invoking "the doctors says..." and consequences like telling him (at a calm time) that when he loses control and hits or pushes it means he is overly tired and must go to bed an hour early.

Or, he can have an immediate time-out. Every single time.

Good luck. I grew up with all brothers, and some were just naturally more aggressive than others. Some were quite passive. All that can be done is keep up the consequences, and part of the response is up to the child. (All my brothers turned out just fine).



answers from Jacksonville on

I was stunned to see another recommendation for John Rosemond. Check him out at www.rosemond.com (newspaper column is on there). His books Raising a Nonviolent Child and his Six Point Plan for Raising Happy Healthy Children are excellent resources, and could help you get a handle on your son. Good luck!